If you’ve sampled chef Jimmy Papadopoulos’ affable in the aftermost four years, affairs are that you’ve had his aliment after anytime accepting had his food.
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Four years ago, Papadopoulos ability accept adapted you a prime steak and conceivably lobster bisque at Sam & Harry’s in Schaumburg. Two or three years ago, it would accept been craven paprikash and potato pancakes at Bohemian House, the hit Czech restaurant in River North, breadth Papadopoulos was aperture chef.
By all accounts (mine included), the chef served both restaurants with distinction, alike admitting the cooking, in his words, “was not accurate to myself.”
Now, acknowledgment to a accidental affair with Boka Group restaurateurs Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz (and a tasting audience that reportedly blew the duo away), Papadopoulos is “cooking with my head, affection and soul” as chef and accomplice at 3-month-old Bellemore.
The restaurant sits in the West Loop breadth that was home to Embeya. I bethink Embeya as actuality a decidedly appealing restaurant, but what Karen Herold (Studio K) has done with the amplitude is a barbecue for the eyes. Sitting in Bellemore is like visiting a once-grand estate that’s center through a above restoration, breadth avant-garde and cornball elements mix happily.
Done principally in white and dark-wood tones, the aerial dining allowance offers wood-clad, uplit columns casting affecting shadows. Abeyant half-globe lights and assumption chandeliers accumulation affluence of soft, diffused illumination. Exposed pipes and ductwork run forth the ceiling, while costly booths and bentwood chairs add nostalgia.
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The art is avian-inspired; a far bank appearance a mural of aerial owls, the lounge breadth has a nude-with-plumed-bird painting, and on either ancillary of the ornate, marble-topped bar are two abeyant birdcages absolute blimp peacocks.
The card offers simple but memorable choices, yet additionally abnormally circuitous dishes. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
Papadopoulos’ aliment echoes the affair of adequate elegance, alpha with his ability pie, which apparently is destined to become the basin of 2018 in Chicago. It’s a $65 allowance that presents two baby slices of oyster-custard pie, elaborately topped with osetra caviar, a aboriginal Beaujolais ability and diced apple. It’s rich, buttery and blue all at once, with a affable acerb finish. The accompanying canal of best Champagne is the consummate touch.
“I was abashed (the dish) would accomplish us attending airless and pretentious,” Papadopoulos said. “And in the aboriginal month, we awash 225 orders. It’s angry into this bougie bite, and now we advertise almost 20 orders a night.”
The Hawaiian rolls, a appreciably added attainable ($8) opener, ability accept absurdly simple by comparison, but if there’s such a affair as chef-y Hawaiian rolls, these are the ones. Four pull-apart, house-made rolls accept all the candied fluffiness you’d expect, topped with a bit of sea salt. What turns the basin into a knockout is the accompanying butter, alloyed with country ham and topped with smoked sesame seeds, saba-stewed attic and some crisped ham $.25 to reinforce the butter’s attenuate undercurrent.
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There are simple but memorable choices, including a bright winter bloom with aerated Gorgonzola, calamansi-marinated hamachi crudo and melt-in-mouth curls of baldheaded foie gras over persimmon marmalade and crumbs of amber brioche. The chef’s affiliation of absurd razor clams and razor-clam ceviche, alloyed with sweet-potato tots, fabricated me anticipate about the absurd clams at Howard Johnson’s, which I apprehend dates me terribly.
And again there are abnormally circuitous dishes, such as the tartare of venison loin, cut into cubes ample abundant to accommodate a compact mouthfeel, placed over aioli adherent with bonito flakes and topped with Tokyo turnips and feel lime. Within the tartare, $.25 of broiled pumpernickel add crunch, pickled pears accord acidity and fermented-garlic-glaze trumpet mushrooms addition the umami factor.
If you’re activity nostalgic, the absurd sweetbreads are Bellemore’s abutting answer of Papadopoulos’ assignment at Bohemian House. Molasses-butter-lacquered sweetbreads over brewed kraut are absolute by dates and alacrity seeds; a basin of dogie demi-glace contains a tiny island of apple-date mustard, whose sinus-clearing backdrop Papadopoulos attributes to dots of “weaponized alacrity oil.”
Main courses accommodate a adorable porcelet with rutabaga, pickled prunes and tiny chicharrones, served alongside broiled cabbage. Cornish hen with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and semolina-potato dumplings is a nice comedy on craven and dumplings, and augment ravioli with sheep-milk ricotta and robiola cheese is alike bigger with a absolute of agilely broken atramentous truffles (a $15 upcharge for the truffles).
Crisp-skinned atramentous bass gets a mollusk escort with a scattering of mussels and a few dabs of uni, set on broiled fregola and a foamed lobster sauce. With supremes of auto and grapefruit for balance, this is one of the best dishes on the menu.
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The avoid is a superstar. The bird is dry-aged centralized for three weeks, acceptable the affluent flavor, and served as a trio: Thin slivers of honey-glazed, orange- and fennel-dusted breast, bonbon leg meat blimp into a brittle croquette and a crepinette of avoid affection and thigh. It’s a beauty.
Pastry chef Allison Schroeder has formed at Blackbird, Girl & the Goat, Sepia and Sixteen, and she’s accomplishing agitating assignment here. An aboriginal candied I actual abundant admired was her chestnut brioche, presented in exploded chunks about pear sorbet, verjus-poached pears and brittle chestnut chips. I attending advanced to what she’ll do with summer fruit. I already absence her amber pave, with black-sesame crisps and persimmon marmalade, but the amber pudding, which replaced it, is acceptable consolation. This is a deep-dive dish, a high-sided basin in which dark-chocolate pudding is hidden below layers of assistant mousse, amber curls, malt tuile and assistant crisps. It takes a while to get the abounding effect, but it’s account the wait.
If you’re activity indecisive, there’s a tasting card ($85) of six chef-selected dishes, all pulled from the menu.
Wine account is top-notch, whether you’re interacting with wine administrator Sarah Carpenter or the nattily attired sommelier Jamel Freeman, whose picks for me were adventuresome and spot-on aliment matches. Beverage administrator Lee Zaremba produces accomplished affair with artistic ingredients.
Service was agitating on all my visits. I consistently accept that I’m accustomed at high-level restaurants, but the staffers did annihilation apparent to let on.
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