Brasserie Inspired, With a Modern Fillip
Sunday suppers built up quite a following during Chef Adam Vickerman’s first stint at CafÃ© Levain more than two years ago. After he left—first to open Tosca, another of Turtle Bread’s properties, then to cook at the Guthrie’s Sea Change—the tradition fell by the wayside. But now Vickerman is back, and so are the regulars who fill the dining room with a relaxed, end-of-weekend buzz.
“I like to slow things down on Sunday night,” Vickerman says. “It’s a very different pace and atmosphere from a busy Friday or Saturday.”
While he steams mussels, braises short ribs, and fries frites during the week, Vickerman is dreaming up a three-course meal of more intricate plates—still brasserie inspired, but with a modern fillip that makes Sunday night special. One recent Sunday supper ($25, or $20 for the vegetarian option) started with tartly dressed greens and a soft-boiled egg—a classic, to be sure—but a grana padano cream and a smear of chili oil took it into new territory. A succulent, rare hanger steak came on a lush barley risotto, barely tinted with asparagus fondue. Dessert was a homey-looking sweet bun stuffed with strawberries and house-made ice cream, and dressed up with a burnt sugar tuile. The optional wine flight paired a GerwÃ¼rztraminer, Merlot, and a brut with the menu.
As June arrives, Vickerman says early season greens and radishes will inspire his Sunday menus, along with the first of this year’s berries and the last of the morels and ramps—“green and bright flavors,” he says. “The less I have to do to them, the better.”
4762 Chicago Ave. S.