Gilded Pleasures

Simplicity shines at River North's new dining destination

Ask chefs what they want to eat on their days off, and they almost always say "comfort food."

Case in point: Gilt Bar chef Brendan Sodikoff, who built his new River North restaurant around those very cravings for simple dishes and big flavors.

Start with a dose of freshness–shaved raw root vegetables with Champagne vinegar ($8)–while perusing the menu. Carnivores should not miss the toast with tangy onion jam and roasted marrow bones, split lengthwise for easy access ($13).

Pappardelle pasta–served with inspired accompaniments, like diver scallops, chili and celery ($16), or small chunks of rabbit confit and salt pork ($15)–is wildly buttery but delicious. By-the-book pot roast in a deeply flavored wine glaze ($19) would earn Grandma's approval. Pair it with the city's best smashed potatoes, made memorable by the addition of dark, savory, roasted garlic-chicken jus ($5).

Dessert is old-school indulgence: house-made ice cream, thick hot fudge sauce, chewy bourbon-pecan bars and caramel corn.

The chic salvaged and industrial interior is matched by a stylish cocktail list, courtesy of The Whistler's Paul McGee–who's currently helping turn a downstairs room into an underground cocktail-only lounge, set to open in a month.

Comfort food and underground cocktails: Yes, we'd say they're golden.

Gilt Bar, 230 W. Kinzie St.; 312-464-9544 or giltbarchicago.com