Yes He Cans

A pickle-filled first taste of Perennial Virant

Between Vie and the new Perennial Virant, Paul Virant plans to build his already robust collection of preserved fruits and vegetables to a whopping 3,000 jars by the end of this year's growing season.

The chef's handiwork is on prominent display at his new Lincoln Park restaurant, where rows of Ball jars filled with last summer's bounty add color to the muted walls of the airy dining room.

And their contents add punchy, vinegary vibrancy to many of the menu's best dishes: A sauce of pickled hot peppers and their pickling liquid, reduced with spring garlic, brings Thai sweet chili sauce to mind. Spooned over a round of garlicky chicken sausage ($14) and served with peppery arugula, it satisfies in the way of the best Southeast Asian dishes.

There's nothing new about a Werp Farms lettuce and Prairie Fruits Farm chèvre salad. But Virant's pickled baby tomatoes–brined in a sweet dill-pickle style, then puréed and blended with olive oil to make a dressing–lend the salad ($10) unusual complexity.

Pastry chef Kady Yon turns his preserved blueberries into a lovely tart, but our favorite bite from her dessert menu included smoked Seedling Farm dried cherries.

Plumped and smoke-kissed, they topped a boozy Templeton rye panna cotta ($8), the unexpected smoke making a familiar ingredient taste exciting and new.

Perennial Virant, 1800 N. Lincoln Ave.; 312-981-7070 or perennialchicago.com