A Chicago Restaurant Brings Fresh California Cuisine to the Midwest

Start your meal with one of the fluffy-yet-crisp pita dishes, served alongside abundant ahi over green chickpea hummus, or a wood-fired eggplant with creamy whipped ribolina. Follow that with another star on the menu: Harry’s Berries Strawberries. Mr. Wu-Bower found the strawberries at the Santa Monica Farmers Market — people were lining up to get them — and, after tasting one, knew he had to import them to Chicago. Served with soft stracciatella, seasonal snap peas and hazelnuts, the dish is accompanied by seeded 1979 bread, courtesy of the head baker at Publican Quality Bread, Greg Wade.

It’s somewhat unusual that a California-inspired restaurant would have not one, but two sections on its menu dedicated to carbs, but Mr. Wu-Bower said that diners can’t get enough of the pastas and rustic wood-fired pizzas. PST also serves dishes that are intended for two or more: whole roasted duck, roasted Slagel Farm rib-eye or the Mount Lassen trout served with a zesty, clean zhoug and, of course, pitas for sopping up the sauce or eating the fish like tacos.

The pastry chef at PST, Natalie Saben, worked at the now-closed restaurant Grace, which had three Michelin stars. Her desserts are an elegant counterpoint to a casual dinner. A chocolate tart is paired with peanut dukkah, the Egyptian spice mix, and peanut ice cream, and a slightly savory buttermilk cake is served with huckleberry sorbet, spice meringue, basil and honey ice cream.

PST follows a trend set in Chicago in the last couple of years at restaurants like Summer House Santa Monica, Bad Hunter and Ema, where the focus is on fresh produce and leaner meats, and brightly lighted rooms that bring people together.

“I love eating with family, both blood and not,” Mr. Wu-Bower said. “It’s my favorite thing to do. When you break bread at the start of a meal, it just feels right. You tear hot bread, run it through the sauce — life and conversation is a little better. For me, that’s the heart and soul of what we do.”

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