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Public House has taken all the trappings of a typical sports bar—TVs everywhere, fried cheese curds and free-flowing beer—and yuppified them. This isn’t an insult. A hefty beer list boasts American craft ales and specialty Belgians for the beer snobs. Meanwhile, chef David Blonsky elevates bar staples, making corn dogs out of Kobe beef, and mustard flavored with pineapple and beer. Those fried cheese curds? Here, they’re served with a healthy dose of eggplant caponata and Parmesan-peppercorn.
Newly appointed executive chef Moosah Reaume seamlessly churns out Vongerichten’s trademark farm-to-table dishes such as roasted beets with housemade yogurt, and whole-wheat flatbread topped with spinach, goat cheese and herbs. Photo: Joe Bankmann
Quad Cities–style pizza is known for its medium-thick, malt-heavy dough, traditionally topped with finely ground sausage, spicy red sauce and mozzarella. Wackier varieties include taco pizza, teeming with mozzarella, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and tortilla chips. Olé?
Les Nomades vet Chris Nugent hasn’t lost his attention to detail, his mastery of French cooking techniques, his penchant for luxe ingredients and a pleasantly drawn-out tasting menu (eight courses for $90) that reminds diners this is a special event—even if they are drinking their own Trader Joe’s swill with it.
Feeling gummy bears for your chocolate–peanut butter yogurt or the need to pile a dozen toppings over a gallon of fat-free? At the Forever Yogurt chain, there’s no counter kid to judge; you pick the cup, you pull one (or three!) of the 14 handles, you pile on the toppings and you plop your concoction down on the scale.
Waffles taps the full potential of its namesake dish with unexpected combinations, such as green-tea waffles with lemon-ginger Chantilly cream and a Mexican chocolate version with orange anglaise cream. The kitchen even distinguishes between a Brussels waffle (thick, crispy and yeast-leavened) and a Liège waffle (caramelized and chewy).
Buttermilk and glazed yeast classics are staples, but the Twitter feed updates dough lovers of daily specials that run the gamut from pistachio to birthday cake (that’s a cake doughnut dunked in vanilla glaze and festooned with rainbow sprinkles…duh). Photo: Dave Rentauskas
Sitting back is the only way to enjoy the show, orchestrated by executive chef Craig Schoettler, a master of the obscure known for filling futuristic serving vessels with booze that infuses before your eyes, concocting 32 types of ice and incorporating white-hot ingredients ranging from finger limes to Batavia Arrack. Add to this the best bar bites in town and the Aviary steps out of the Next shadow positively shining. Photo: Jason Little