|Robert Hoffman (via Eater Chicago)|
Originally opening as a sister restaurant to Chicago Firehouse across the street, bringing chef Kendall Duque along, the food program quickly went astray. Mainstay proprietor Matthew O'Malley feels executive chef John Caputo righted the ship, now bringing in Robert Hoffman (Moto, Otom, BOKA) to run the kitchen. He officially took over on Valentine's Day.
But how did City Tavern get to this point? Months before the opening, at the conceptual inception, Duque was tabbed to run both restaurants. Hoffman says Duque was "possibly overwhelmed" by running both projects, as well as care for a newborn child. "Things (in the kitchen) that were seamless were no longer seamless," O'Malley says, and "things went sideways" in late September. Duque is now spending time with his family.
When Duque left, Mainstay moved quickly to fill the role, tabbing Jackie Shen (Chicago Cut, Friendship Chinese, Red Light) to take over the dining program. Shen didn't work out either, and was ousted within two months. Shen's interest in diverse Asian cuisines didn't line up with the "tavernesque-Americana" ideals of City Tavern, and "what we were looking for and what was produced didn't match up," according to O'Malley.Has anyone been recently? If so what are your thoughts?