There are lots of restaurants in town with big plans for New Year’s Eve (see our regularly updated guide), but it’s swan-song time at these two, which will be missed:
After ten years in business, Meritage Cafe and Wine Bar is closing January 1, but not with a whimper. On his last night chef Troy Graves will offer a seasonal five-course prix fixe dinner for $85 from 5:30 to 10:30 PM. At press time the menu wasn’t 100 percent set, but there will be curried suckling pig with charred pineapple coulis and seared foie gras (let the authorities close him down for serving the banned delicacy, Graves says); lobster ceviche with blood orange emulsion; oysters on the half shell with passion fruit sorbet; goat cheese soup with balsamic-grilled red onions; and wine-braised pheasant with chorizo grits and braised greens. A cocktail party (with cash bar) follows the dinner and goes till 2 AM; no reservations required for the party. Owner Christopher Peckat is quick to move on: his new barbecue place, Risque Cafe (3419 N. Clark, 773-525-7711), is slated to open in late December.
Chef John Bubala, who’s also closing his ten-year-old restaurant the first of the year, goes out in style with two seatings at Timo. The first, a three-course prix fixe meal for $50, will be served from 5:30 to 8 PM; the second, four courses for $80, is at 9:30. Among the 20 items diners can choose from are risotto with sausage, smoked Gouda, and asparagus; “chef’s whim” house-made ravioli; pork shank with gnocchi, bacon, and roasted onions; salmon with Italian barley and black olives; steak in red wine sauce with rosemary; and six desserts, including a creme brulee trio and a chocolate gateau. Both seatings include a glass of champagne, and the Dan Cray Trio plays jazz at the second seating. “Like Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew,” says Bubala. “No Sinatra.”