Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eater Chicago Updates Chef Shuffle at City Tavern

Based on our experiences at City Tavern (1416 S. Michigan) we're comfortable saying that the restaurant  has been a good addition to the neighborhood.  They've even won a Bib Gourmand rating in the 2013 Michelin Guide.  While this was all fine and dandy, there has been a little uncertainty back in the kitchen.  Eater Chicago recently posted about some changes in the kitchen:
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?

14 comments:

Bekki said...

We went for the first time in January and the food and drinks were amazing. Good for a date night. I wouldn't go there for a regular-type thing, but good for a nice night out.

EJM said...

We had dined there when they opened and thought the food was decent. Ended up there again two weeks ago after skipping a long wait at another restaurant. We had an excellent meal (actually the Cgo Restaurant Week prix fixe) with entrees of fried chicken and skirt steak. Food selection and quality were really good, especially the chicken. Service and drinks were excellent as well.

Anonymous said...

And the story in a few months will be they need a new chef or manager or whatever. Any place that is owned by Matt in that practicular buildibg will always have one foot in the air. the best thing for the sloop is to get some new blood down here from up north.

Anonymous said...

I was a huge fan of City Tavern. It was a nice change of place from the usual sports bars in the neighborhood. Every time I ate there, the food, drinks, and service were consistently solid... then a few weeks ago I went on a Saturday night and it was HORRIBLE. The food was bland, the service was awful. The only thing that remained good was my drink. I was so disappointed!

Anonymous said...

We went for the first time about a month ago and the place was a solid 5. I am excited to see the changes as I believe the place could really turn around. They were out of the 2 wines I tried to order and also 2 of the dishes. That was really unfortunate. Also, the deviled eggs were not to my taste at all. However we both loved our entrees. I look forward to going back as this is a restaurant I would hit up weekly for a neighborhood evening out on a Friday or Saturday. Also our waitress was not very good--incredibly slow to fill drink orders, give us utensils, and bring menus. But again the entrees were really good - excited to return in March!

Dan said...

I posted in the forums a couple days ago about my brunch experience here. I thought the food was great as well as the service. They place wasn't packed but there was a decent amount of people there. It's not your standard brunch fare so if you want a typical meal, go somewhere else. If you want a little bit of adventure in a menu, then this is your place.

South Loop Social Light said...

Haven't tried the restaurant out personally, but my girlfriend went a while back and deemed it terrible when they messed up eggs during a brunch. That alone encouraged me to pass on it. Maybe I'll give it a try this spring.

Anonymous said...

They took the the mussels and the ribeye off the menu which were both fantastic. I look at the new menu and dont see anything worth ordering.

Anonymous said...

I went on Saturday. The meat loaf was pretty bland, but I tried the fried chicken with honey and it was top notch. I will go back again, and look forward to a spring menu.

Anonymous said...

I tried the meatloaf but instead woofed down the fried chicken and chocolate cake and had a milkshake and blah blah blah

You people make me sick.......

fat.

Anonymous said...

We were there last week and it was pretty good. Mussels were the special and also good. I like their draft beer menu -- a lot of hard to find selections on it. The flghts are great and let you try three for the price of a normal pint

the girl across the street said...

my boyfriend and i have been a handful of times. and each time we decide to give it another shot we're reminded of why we're not in love - despite our desire to be!

service has been our number one kicker with City Travern. we sat there with empty coffee cups and a corner full of dirty dishes and watched five people (including our server) walk past us before the maitre d finally cleared them.

additionally, we're not meat eaters, so our menu is narrowed down - which we're used to and are fine with. but the last two times we've visited the two same items have been unavailable: wild mushroom and duck tartlets & the veggie quiche. when your menu is narrowed down already, having one viable option removed twice because they're "out of dough" is kind of questionable. i'm not master chef, but i can safely say even i know how to whip up some dough for a quiche.

with all of that being said, we probably will give it another shot and keep an open mind. if the service spiffed up, that alone would make this more of a go-to spot for us.

SB said...

I SO wanted to love City Tavern after reading all the inital rave reviews. Make us love you with the return to greatness--Close to home and a nice cozy spot.Admittedly I'm a good cook so really like to be wowed when I fork over $$ for the joy of eating someone else's special recipes....I was SO disappointed and knew something had to be up with the kitchen for the food to change from the original reviews to the ones I've been hearing-and reading.The fried chicken was greasy and too sweet, the app of chicken livers with oysters sounded fab but was an undistinguishable fried flat fiasco of flavorless disks on a plate. Ugh. The drinks were really good-but not enough to make up for so-so service, no bread with dinner, and blah food. New chef!?! Excited to hear about changes-so we can all come back for really good food as promised when City Tavern opened in the Sloop.We want to love them!!

Anonymous said...

I miss the old menu. All of my favorites (asparagus and egg, pork chop with bacon, salmon with lobster meat, the list goes on..) are no longer available. Hoping to see some changes again soon.