Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Monday, August 6, 2012 2:02pm
Subject: Best Rooftop View in Chicago
Hey RR – Remember that restaurant we went to last time you were in Chicago, Perennial Virant? It’s that one where mixologist Erin Hayes made us some crafty cocktails… Anyway, their rooftop bar just opened and the view is insane. I know that they gave you a sneak peek when it was a construction zone, but this place is madness. I’m talking 360-degree views of the city with incredible cocktails and food. The cocktail program theme is “destination cocktails.” Every few months, they’ll highlight a few different countries and do a few drinks riffing on the classics. They’re starting with Spain, Cuba and Mexico and I may or may not have tried them all already. Not that you asked, but I think my two faves are the Parker Paloma, which has tequila, grapefruit bitters and grapefruit soda and the Rose Sangria, which has fresh strawberry puree mixed in.
While we all loved our meal that night downstairs at Perennial, the concept that Chef Paul Virant has come up with for upstairs is pretty cool. There is a column of “base” ingredients to start from and then you choose an “accompaniment” from the column below, giving the diner a chance to get creative. (But don’t worry, there’s an asterisk on the menu that allows the kitchen to veto any poor decisions.) In keeping with my habit of telling you what to order, keep an eye out for the “base” semolina crostini – it’s frickin fantastic! – and then choose what you want to put on top. We also tried the “base” sliced steak with the romesco sauce “accompaniment.” I’m telling you, I grew up in the stockyards of Chicago, but two of the best steak dishes I can remember were from Paul Virant.
Paul and farmers go together like white on rice, so this menu and its options will most likely change often, or as often as a new ingredient gets pulled from the ground, washed, cooked (sometimes) and put on your plate.
I have to give a nod to the service staff. While the place is in its early stages, everyone is quite friendly and willing to help, from the attendant in the elevator to the servers and bussers. This is no surprise given that this is the newest project from Boka Restaurant Group.
the J.Parker (at Hotel Lincoln)
1816 N. Clark Street, 13th floor
Chicago, IL 60614
And that’s what’s on my plate!
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!