What to Eat at Perennial Virant, Now Open in Lincoln Park
Talk about a quick turnaround. In late February, the Boka Restaurant Group surprised us all by pulling in chef Paul Virant (of the acclaimed Vie in Western Springs) to take over Perennial in Lincoln Park. Renamed Perennial Virant, the space was reconceptualized and completely renovated. Now, less than three months later, we have a brand new restaurant from one of the most respected chefs in country. Not bad, right? The rush seemed lost on Virant, who was as serene and calm as we’ve ever seen a chef on opening night. He let us have a look around the dramatic new space, and also let us sample a few of the dishes you can now order.
Turns out that the preview menu released a few weeks ago was actually pretty close to the final version, which means that Virant had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish. The menu is divided into two sections. Guests can decide whether to order a three-course seasonal prix fixe menu for $37, or go à la carte and get one of the 15 plates to share. We were assured that most weren’t necessarily “small plates,” and that many were big enough for a meal.
Of course, it is nice that a chef renowned for his use of local produce would open a new restaurant across the street from the bustling Green City Market. “How convenient is that?” he told us. “I love that we have such great access to market.” To be sure, the menu is chock-full of spring produce, from ramps, green garlic, rhubarb, spring onions, and, of course, asparagus.
The old Perennial was a striking space, and we wondered whether they would even have to do much decorating at all. But a drastic remodeling makes the space feel like a completely new restaurant. The layout is more open and simple, with none of the trees — remember that? — or fabric from the old incarnation.
There is much more we could discuss, but this should probably do for opening night. Check out our walk through, and also take a look at the official menus.
Perennial Virant, 1800 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL; 312-981-7070