There's plenty of reason to be zealous about this River North restaurant by Michael Taus, which serves interesting and inventive American cuisine in a beautiful loft space. Designed by New York architect William Leeds, the converted warehouse, bedecked in muted earth tones, mossy greens and eggplant and olive accents, is nothing if not serene.
Making its name (meaning "the energetic pursuit of excellence) its mission, Zealous offers a frequently changing menu of contemporary cuisine. Appetizers include Maine lobster ravioli with warm bagna cauda vinaigrette and crispy pancetta and yellowfin tuna tartare.
If anything, you'll have difficulty choosing an entree; selections include dishes like grilled veal rib chop with chanterelle mushrooms, oven-dried tomatoes and sweet potato fries, and sesame-crusted Chilean sea bass with pan-fired rice noodles and red coconut curry sauce. Wine lovers take note: A 15-foot glass-enclosed wine cellar houses the restaurant's 750+ wine selection.
A bamboo-surrounded chef's table, private dining room and bar and lounge area allow a variety of experiences to be had. Dinner tasting menus, prepared by chef Michael Taus and chef de cuisine Sam Burman, include a five-course meal for $85 ($75 for vegetarians); a seven-course Chef's meal for $105; and a "spontaneous" seven-course Chef's Table (which seats 6-10) meal for $125.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz