Le Bouchon Turns 20 - Chicago

A Bucktown favorite turns 20

Le Bouchon may be classic, but it's far from stale.

Bucktown's charming French boîte, which turns 20 in June, has been humming with energy and creativity since owner Jean-Claude Poilevey's son, Oliver, rejoined the fold in January.

After a stint at The Publican, Oliver's return to Le Bouchon (and sister restaurant Le Sardine) heralded a revamp of the bistro's menu. The classics are still there, like a quartet of beet, carrot, lentil and celery-root salads ($7), and steak with herb-packed Maitre d'Hotel butter and a pile of thin, superlative frites ($20). But, during a recent visit, they were executed with greater care than before.

Bistro standards are joined by a handful of updated and brand-new dishes. Salmon for a tartine is now cured in-house, and draped over toast with lemony crème fraîche, green garbanzo beans and salmon roe ($8). Sausages made at Le Sardine are available daily ($8), as are new compositions like sweetbreads with romesco ($22) and seared duck breast with blackberry sauce ($23).

One of our perennial favorite elements of Le Bouchon remains unchanged: On Monday nights, the entire wine list is half-price, an inspired excuse for a toast to la vie française.