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AUGUST 17, 2006
May Street Market

Maystreet At dinner last night it dawned on me that, while I've claimed May Street Market as my favorite new restaurant in Chicago, I've never written about it. I've been there now four times -- for both lunch and dinner -- brought numerous people, including my parents last night for mom's birthday and have referred even more there. Time after time, I've not only had great meals, but also have heard from everyone I've sent there how much they loved it.

One of the biggest draws for me is Chantal Randolph, the restaurant's general manager and now partner, news she revealed to me last night. This woman is why going to dinner is wonderful. When you get greeted with a huge smile and are continuously delighted by her warm presence and her effusive discussions on the beauty of food, that's a dining experience.

But the other draw, obviously, is chef Alex Cheswick's innovative menu and gorgeous presentation. He graduated from CIA and has worked in the kitchens at Tru and Le Francais in Chicago as well as a couple of spots in Germany and Switzerland, influences that are definitely notable in the food.

By now, I've sampled nearly everything on the menu -- both spring and summer. Last night, I had pan sauteed scallops that were near perfection, served with purple rice, a dollop of pesto and so much flavor. The heirloom tomato salad was a nice light start, with the accompaniment of tomato ice a perfect touch.

An excellent menu staple is their signature lemon grass and carrot soup with black mussels and their mini burger trio of venison, seared tuna and beef with pomme frites is out of this world.

And their wine list -- carefully selected from vineyards around the world -- is so accessible, friendly and easy to navigate. While my dad wanted to venture to Italy for a barbera, I gently brought him back to Napa for, what else, the Joel Gott '04 Cab, which has a great blend of ripe cherry, sweet plum, a touch of chocolate with just a hint of dryness. It leans toward a Zin, which doesn't surprise me with Joel's love of that grape.

May Street is truly a wonderful experience. It's classy, comfortable and not over-the-top experimental like some other new spots in Chicago. It's a keeper.

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Joan Pike

I live iin Ithaca, NY and I can't wait to visit Chicago to try Alex's food. I went to CIA when he was there and knew he would be fabulous.

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