Randy Zweiban, formerly of Norman Van Aken’s Miami outpost Norman’s and Chicago’s Nacional 27, opened up his new spot, Province, last week. When I spoke with Zweiban recently he said he’d chosen “maybe the worst time in the last 150 years to open a restaurant.” He wasn’t worried though, saying his former mentor Van Aken always used to ask why, if the restaurant business was so hard to make money at, was there a restaurant on every corner in America? Hard to argue with that. That being said, Zweiban’s new LEED certified dining room featuring reclaimed wood, cork, a breathtaking ceiling mounted grove of petrified Manzanita trees, and mouth-watering food photography from Laurie Proffitt is pretty inviting. The food featuring Zweiban’s famous ceviches should also be a hit. 161 N Jefferson Street Chicago IL 60661 (map); 312-669-9900; provincerestaurant.com
Offal at The Bristol
The Bristol, Chicago’s newest gastropub/beer and pork/salumeria/casual dining spot, is featuring a “fifth quarter” menu replete with charcuterie and organ meat. People are so hot for it that the sweetbreads sold out during opening weekend, leaving very little left over for the following week. That being said, chef Chris Pandel knows his way around the parts of a pig, or for that matter, we’d guess most living things. On a recent night he improved some seared pork liver, topping it with fennel vinaigrette, bitter greens, roast chanterelles, and toasty hazelnuts. The dish was nose to tail fantasy nosh. I look forward to sampling more of Pandel’s inventions. 2152 N Damen Avenue, Chicago IL 60647 (map); 773-862-5555
The Publican, the spot from Paul Kahan and the Blackbird/Avec team that has been anticipated longer than the fourth Indiana Jones movie, is finally open. So as not to disappoint, i.e. with a freaky space ship scene, chef de cuisine Brian Huston is filling the menu with the whipcracking and wisecracking you’d expect: a full roster of pork, oysters, and beer. So far, the cider-glazed pork rinds and bacon rillons are the hit, followed closely by pork rillettes and sweetbreads prepared schnitzel-style. Opening weekend allegedly saw three hour waits, so it's best to wait for a calmer weekday before you visit. But if Avec’s weeknights are any indication of what’s to come, there will never be a perfect time for you to visit. 845 West Fulton Market, Chicago IL 60607 (map); 312-733-9555
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