Just as my chef son, Ryan, was feeling like it was time to move on from Chicago, after living there and establishing a career as a chef for four years, an amazing opportunity came along to keep him planted in the hipster city.
He had attended college in Boston, then New York. After graduation, he announced his move to San Francisco, which didn’t last long, and eventually to Chicago. Like every parent, I suppose, I had hoped Ryan would settle in our home state of Connecticut, I mean Connecticut employs chefs too. But, deep down, I recognized his wanderlust. I often return to something my friend reminded me when Ryan first moved: “You taught your children the world is their oyster, and they listened.”
It’s true, I still miss the opportunity to just drop everything to visit him if he were a car-ride away. I feel cheated on holidays he can’t spend with us (we’re lucky to see him one holiday a year). I cherish the one family vacation we make every attempt to hold onto each year. There are also so up-sides to Ryan living in Chicago.
First, it’s a wonderful city. We have visited him more than a handful of times and manage to explore something new each time.
Moreover, Ryan has opened us up to a whole culinary world we hadn’t a clue existed. He began working as a line cook at Longman and Eagle in Logan Square, a Michelin star restaurant (another term I learned through my son) where he eventually worked his way up to sous. Then he moved onto another restaurant, owned by the same group, Dusek’s, a gastropub in Pilsen, that would earn its first star while Ryan was a sous chef there. And finally, he helped open the Ruin Daily with some close chef friends he’d made at the previous two jobs. We enjoyed every meal we’d eaten at the restaurants where he cooked; we also have been to many other famous restaurants in Chicago on Ryan’s recommendations. He’s certainly a young man with champagne taste and caviar dreams.
In the Fall of 2017, Ryan was referred by his former chef d’cuisine, Matt Kearney, from Longman to a job working at a new restaurant opening in the Lakeview area called the Tied House. It hadn’t even been renovated when he had his first interview and tasting with the owners. While he was in the running for the executive chef spot, he accepted an offer to work under a James Beard award-winning, executive chef, Debbie Gold, and the opportunity to build this restaurant alongside of her to learn the ropes. Incredibly excited during each stage of development, Ryan worked for four months learning every aspect of what it takes to open a restaurant until its much anticipated grand opening.
We were invited to a friends and family opening, prior to going public, and couldn’t be more excited for the four of us to support and celebrate all the hard work he put into the evolution of the Tied House, Chicago.
Lakeview is a lovely, upscale, mostly residential part of Chicago with a spectacular view of the water. When we first arrived, we immediately noticed Schubas’ Tavern, a long withstanding icon, on the corner next to Tied House, separated by an open patio with a large, copper fireplace, fire roaring inside. (Schubas’,Tied House and Lincoln Hall are all part of and owned by the same company).
After entering down a long, dimly lit hallway, we reached the host station, the restaurant opens up to a bright, sleek, modern room. Very beautiful were my first thoughts. My daughter, an interior design student schooled me on Gensler Architecture and Design, world renowned, who designed the restaurant.
We were greeted by two servers who could not be more accommodating throughout our meal. And while we attempted to order, Ryan sent out a sampling of each dish anyway; I presume to get our thoughts on all of them.
The meal and service were terrific. Even if my son were not a chef there, I’d say the same. I promise. The presentation of each dish was like looking at a piece of artwork. And the dishes, flown in from all over the world, were stunning. There was a palpable synergy about the whole evening.
The dish I’m most looking forward to returning for Carnaroli Porridge (I know, it sounds weird, but it was DE-LI-CIOUS!) Honestly, everything on the menu was excellent, but my favorites were: Parker House Rolls and Bone Marrow Butter, Raviolo, Beeswax Aged Mackerel, Braised Pork and every dessert on the menu.
The next night we attended a V.I.P. gathering where we got to meet the many people who had a hand in the creation of this restaurant. They served hors d’oeuvres, some of the smears and rolls from their menu and an open bar. This time we sat across from the bar at a cocktail, high top. The bar is stunning. When Ryan finally had the chance to join us, he gave us a tour of the entire building (even the kitchen). Such an amazing design. We made our way up to an events room on the second floor, which was also brimming with guests, where we ate and laughed and chatted until the evening came to a close next door at Schubas’ Tavern. At this bar, I felt like a returning guest at my neighborhood bar. Schubas is a cross between Cheers and a pub you’d find in London.
Everytime we’re in Chicago, we try to do at least one new thing. After having breakfast at a routine favorite, Eataly Chicago, this time brought us to Water Tower Place, a vertical mall. I think there were eight floors with tops ten stores per floor. It reminded me of the kind of mall one would see in New York City. My favorite stop was the Dr. Seuss Gallery, but I also loved the Lego display of the Chicago skyline. Visually, Water Tower Place is the most beautiful mall I’ve ever been to. So, it certainly will not be my last visit.
If you haven’t been to Chicago and are looking for a weekend getaway, I highly recommend it. (Read up on my prior ChiTown posts for some other hot spots to visit).
I am so incredibly honored to have been part of the Tied House opening. I look forward to seeing it make its mark on the Chicago culinary scene.
Take a look at the reviews!