Whimsical and Wonderful: Claudia for the Holidays

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The end of the year is a great season for restaurants, and many of us are looking for a special place to celebrate the holidays with friends and family.

Chef Trevor Teich, who was on our very last Big Heat list before the pandemic, has worked at some of Chicago’s best restaurants, including L20, Nomi and Acadia. Now Teich hopes to inspire a suitable holiday wonder in his recently opened Claudie in Bucktown. Born from its rented pop-up, Teich continues to wow minds with clever and delicious plates of innovative cuisine.

We had the chance to dine at Teich’s Claudia pop-up several years ago, and the best way to describe the experience is that it was a wonder. Plates of improbable combinations and creative interpretations of traditional dishes were prepared in front of diners at communal tables, then for a moment everything fell silent as we absorbed the beauty, creative energy and wonder of each culinary composition. , sometimes fanciful.

“The general concept of Claudia’s tasting menus tells a story through the food,” Teich explains. “Your server is like a guide, a storyteller in your private adventure.”

The menus will be playful, drawing inspiration from the experiences of Teich’s childhood which, according to him, will be universal. A dish called ‘Snails in the Woods’, a forest of tempura snails, dehydrated mushrooms, edible flowers and more, is a tribute to his brother, who brought creatures from walks in the woods to terrorize their mother, Claudia. . Teich says his mother always encouraged him to be creative, hence the restaurant of the same name.

Penny candy, homemade gummy bears and other high / low treats are part of the menu, along with classes tailored to each guest’s interests and personality. When booking, guests are asked questions such as “What makes you feel like a kid again?” Or “What are your favorite hobbies,” then Teich tries to surprise his diners with dishes that seem made just for them, a kind of holiday gift that speaks directly to every guest.

“If you’re a sports fan and it’s your favorite pastime, maybe we’ll get you a little Manchester United flag, or something,” he says. “If you’re someone who has a nostalgic feeling that comes from watching the movie ‘Hook’ with your kids, maybe we’ll give you a Peter Pan-type keepsake in the middle of your dinner. ensuring that we provide people with a really fun experience.

Customers can order from a regular chef experience menu, which consists of ten courses, or from an extended menu of fifteen courses. The restaurant also has a bar with an à la carte menu of “crunchies”, such as half-shell oysters, pâté en croûte, foie gras torchon, oysters and lobster pâté.

Chris Crispino and Jessica Dennis join Teich as sommeliers, and they’ve created an old world wine list along with more modern options. Cocktails are also a mix of classic and modern.

Claudia takes over the space where Takashi, Dixie and Stoneflower were based, but Claudia will feel different from any of these restaurants, thanks to design firm Siren & Betty, who have reworked the vibe of this little white brick house. in Bucktown, a slightly whimsical, environment that suits many culinary offerings. The restaurant will feel bigger than before, with two floors and a full bar. For Teich, it is a dream that he was finally able to realize.

“It has always been the goal,” he says, to open a restaurant after seven years of pop-ups. Like many restaurateurs, he closed the Claudia pop-up in 2020 when the coronavirus swept across the country. “It was very hard, and having always wanted to open a restaurant, I’m very happy to be out on the other side,” he says. “Now I have the opportunity to give people jobs, health care and a place to work and to be proud of what they do.

“We’re just trying to make a really special restaurant, just trying to make people happy. I want this to be a fun experience that people think is right for them.

Reservations are available now through Tock. The ten-course tasting menu is $ 225 and the fifteen-course chef’s table menu is $ 265. Both offer optional wine tastings. After a difficult year and a half, Teich, who demands that staff be vaccinated and provides guests with masks and hand sanitizer, hopes fine dining can be fun again, even in today’s climate. Claudia is well suited for a Christmas party, reflecting the joyful spirit, whimsy and wonders of the season.


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