Beatrix: A Bewitching New Boutique Restaurant in River North
This is what we needed: a fusion coffeehouse-restaurant with free Wi-Fi and a bar where you can order a fresh-juiced blueberry Tom Collins.
We had to get this quick blast in about Beatrix. Like the man said, it's healthy, with enough gluten-free picks to satisfy the wheat-worriers and a new school of chef's specialties for the more daring among us. The Lettuce Entertain You offering on Clark Street is mixing up fresh juice cocktails (the Pineapple-Habanero Margarita caught our eye); a big chunk turkey, sweet potato and greens meatloaf dish that sounds inspired; and fat breakfast platters of homemade Belgian waffles that made us blush, they looked so decadent.
The ambiance is upscale but casual enough to grab a burger, the kind made with prime beef and housemade giardiniera and Kennebec fries (pipe down Francis, it's a burger). Finish with a tower of Indian-style ice cream, a Vanilla Bean Kulfi that will push your voice up an octave in praise. The menu, created by chef partners Susan Weaver, Rita Dever and John Chiakulas, isn't imposingly experimental. (Though if you've never had chia-seed pudding, or don't know what a chia seed is, you might wonder why all those tiny black eyes are staring at you.) The combinations are zesty and righteously creative.
Peter Frost over at the Tribune told everybody to check out the generous portions of chili-chocolate-glazed salmon with miniature corn tortillas punched up with almonds and sweet red peppers. Maybe that's the reason they're already getting the celebrity treatment: ESPN's Michael Wilbon and actor Michael Shannon of HBO's Boardwalk Empire were sighted fueling up. What they were eating is another matter.
Make it a date, or two.