New Chefs, New Menus

Some of Chicago's hottest restos have new chefs -- here's what's cooking

Sepia, the stylish West Loop restaurant that hit the scene in 2007, is currently undergoing a transformation. Not only is Andrew Zimmerman, previously of NoMI, MOD and del Toro, Sepia's new executive chef, but the restaurant has also hired Scott Tyree as wine director. And, if that's not enough of an evolution for you, Sepia has also added outdoor seating. Zimmerman's new menu shows an assertive yet understated touch, staying true to Sepia's rustic-meets-refined sensibilities. And, yes, they've kept the famous flat breads! (Think: wild mushroom with kale and garlic; applewood smoked bacon, pears and blue cheese; and lamb shoulder, caramelized onions and olives -- all $6 each.)

Loop mainstay 312 Chicago is starting a new chapter with chef Luca Corazzina, an Italian native and a veteran of such restaurants as Vivo and Figo Ristorante in west suburban Glen Ellyn. Corazzina brings his heritage (his mother was a professional chef in Padova) to his cooking, which is evident in 312 Chicago's new dishes. Try such contemporary spins on Italian staples as "ippoglosso," roasted Alaskan halibut with cauliflower puree, pancetta, fava beans, onions and watercress ($25); and "filetto di Manzo," grilled beef tenderloin with gorgonzola-leek puree and roasted fingerling potatoes ($32).

Wicker Park's Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge also has a new chef in the kitchen. Executive chef Noah Sandoval has taken over for "Top Chef" alum Radhika Desai, introducing his contemporary American cooking to the intimate spot's new spring and summer sharing menu. Sandoval, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of New Orleans and former sous chef of Verbena in Richmond, Virginia, has created such inventive dishes as venison carpaccio with arugula, peach, rosemary and juniper ($11); sea scallops with corn pudding, sweet potato and tarragon ($14); and pork belly with mustard demi glaze, bok choy and pickled red onion ($12) for the daring dining destination.

And, finally, in other top toque news, chef Hans Aeschbacher will take over the kitchen of Trader Vic's on June 1. The popular personality, known for his frequent radio appearances and high-profile positions at Lawry's Prime Rib, the Chicago Stadium and United Center and, most recently, at Smith & Wollensky, will keep the island-inspired menu at the legendary mai tai lounge and restaurant mostly intact, adding his signature touches here and there.

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