VENUE DETAILS

Cafe Levain

Price:

Cuisine Type:

Serves:

Handicap Accessible:

Yes

Outdoor Seating:

No

Handicap Accessible:

Yes

Outdoor Seating:

No

Rating: No Star No Star No Star No Star

REVIEW

You remember Levain, right? Critics' darling, foodie favorite. I was all over it when Stewart Woodman ran the place. Ditto the Steven Brown era. I mourned its passing. But you know what? It's been nearly a year since the doors closed. We all need to move on.

To his everlasting credit, owner Harvey McLain has. As promised, he reopened the restaurant as an affordable neighborhood bistro. When he joked last winter that he might call Levain 2.0 "Peasant Food Only," I half-believed him. But then he went with Cafe Levain.

It's a name that suits the enterprise's new approachability. Out-of-towners bearing gold-plated expense accounts probably won't be hopping the No. 5 bus for the trek to 48th and Chicago -- although, let's face it, did they ever? But I suspect that plenty of locals will add McLain's latest venture to their dining calendars. If there's a place for a spur-of-the-moment Tuesday night dinner, this is definitely it.

That's because chef Eric Sturtz has a talent for coaxing flavors out of everyday ingredients -- chicken, less-expensive cuts of beef and pork, root vegetables -- and then treating them in time-tested ways.

"Maybe they should have called it Cafe Brown," observed my friend, and he was right: The low-and-slow methods that Sturtz has at his fingertips -- roasting, braising, browning -- brush a golden glow of goodness onto so many plates. There's a reason why they call this stuff comfort food.

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