There isn't really a philosophy behind VERMILION's fusion of Indian and Latin flavors--owner Rohini Dey and executive chef Maneet Chauhan just happen to like both cuisines. The Indian ingredients, like cardamom, garam masala, and lentils, dominate the several dozen tapas on the menu. The Mysore lamb chops are marinated in a spiced lentil mixture then grilled and served on a minty red onion salad; the tamarind shrimps are coated in black pepper and served with white mung beans and a daikon salad. The fusion concept comes through more distinctly in a number of larger dishes: the tandoori skirt steak, for instance, is served on garlicky spinach with fried plantains; the blackened tamarind ribs come with yucca fries and sweet-corn salsa. There's also a small list of traditional Indian entrees like lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, and, for vegetarians, daal makhani (slow-cooked black lentils). Small plates are a better idea in this space, though, which is trendy enough to attract club-goers looking for a quick bite. One of the walls is painted bright red and hung with black-and-white photos shot by Indian fashion photographer Farrokh Chothia, and there's usually Latin or Indian lounge playing. The highlight of the meal may be the wonderful smell of seasonings that fills the restaurant. Vermilion is at 10 W. Hubbard, 312-527-4060.
You can enter VIAND, a tapas-style American brasserie from the Kimpton Group, from inside the Courtyard by Marriott hotel lobby or from the street on Ontario. Chef Jay Denham's eclectic menu is as ambitious as that of any stand-alone restaurant: there are more than 20 small plates, including country-style duck pate, seared beef with blue cheese, and Kobe meat loaf. The rum-glazed double-cut pork chop (served with a sweet-potato hash that's a perfect complement) is tasty and well prepared. There's a separate menu just for martinis--the unique and sometimes successful combinations include the bubbly martini (lemon vodka topped with chilled champagne and kirsch-soaked strawberries), the Sapphire salad martini (garnished with gherkins, olives, capers, and pearl onions), and the unappetizing apple pie martini (with Calvados and cinnamon apple squares). A few items from the menu can be ordered from room service. The restaurant has a black, white, and red art deco motif; the kitchen is separated from the dining room by a wall that's low enough to see over but high enough to mitigate the kitchen noise. Viand is at 155 E. Ontario, 312-255-8505.
Located on the former Glenview Naval Air Base, the month-old FLIGHT offers a variety of wine flights. But chef Joe Campagna's food is the main attraction. His trio of seafood tartars is a good start--the diced sea bass gets a southwestern touch with fresh corn and cilantro, the tuna is prepared Asian-style with sesame oil and garlic, and the salmon is marinated in a Mediterranean mixture of olive oil and parsley. The tiny New Zealand lamb chops, also done three ways, are a treat as well--the six chops come two each with a basil-mint salsa, an herbed Dijon-mustard-panko (Japanese breadcrumb) crust, and a red wine reduction with juniper berries. If you're just in the mood for a snack, there are plenty of options on the appetizer-heavy menu, including a Mediterranean platter of refried hummus, pepperoncini, and roasted red pepper salsa. Campagna plans to offer a few more-substantial entrees in the near future. Whatever you order, wine director Adam Bloom will help you choose a suitable wine from the 15 flights, 80 glasses, and several hundred bottles on the list. Bloom, who's completed three of the four levels at London's Wine and Spirit Educational Trust, thoughtfully combines a group of Gewurztraminers for his "spicy whites" flight--a 2001 Thomas Fogarty, a 2002 Gundlach Bunschu, and a 2001 Domaine Weinbach. His "smoky reds" flight mixes varietals, combining a 2002 Ben Marco Malbec with a 2002 Veramonte Cabernet/Carmenere and a 2001 Hacienda Monasterio Tempranillo. He also offers color-blind flights, combining reds and whites that pair equally well with recommended dishes. "Customers come in and think they want to order just a chardonnay," says Bloom. "But it's my job to make suggestions, and I'm pleased so far at the positive response and willingness of customers to go with my suggestions." Flight is at 1820 Tower, Glenview, 847-729-9463.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eric Futran.