mk, an old paint factory located in a row of box warehouses, is a two-story haute-cuisine temple of timber, brick, exposed ventilation shafts and monochrome art. mk namesake Michael Kornick is the brainchild behind what he likes to call a casual family restaurant where "you can come as you are but you'll be treated at a heightened level." Kornick handed over the day-to-day reins of working the line years ago, but his talent lies in attracting and nurturing top-notch talent.
Erick Simmons, previously sous-chef at Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas, carries on past-chef Todd Stein's tradition of simply presented seafood with dishes like chilled Maine lobster drizzled with a zingy lemon vinaigrette and rich tuna tartare with an exotic spice infused Moroccan oil cured relish. Simmons also serves up great offal, including crispy veal sweetbreads with earthy trumpet royal mushrooms and smoky green apple vinaigrette. No matter who's manning the kitchen, the crispy pomme frites served with a decadent truffle cream are still one of the best side dishes in Chicago.
Kornick has also hosted the talents of some of the city's best pastry chefs, including Mindy Segal who left to start Hot Chocolate; Kate Neumann currently puts her own twists on Segal classics like "cake and shake." She's her own woman though, and her silky ice creams, citrus kissed granitas and decadent chocolate confections are singular.
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Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant