You know how they release a bunch of movies in January that you had no idea even existed? Restaurant news in Chicago is like that in January, too— the big ones all opened at the end of the year, now it's time for quirky little ones. Will they be surprise hits or duds quickly swept under the rug? Who knows! First up, the Trib reports that we're going to get a restaurant from the biggest chef in Peru, Gaston Acurio. "Biggest chef in Peru" may not sound that great an accomplishment but Acurio's main restaurant, Astrid y Gaston, is on the World's 50 Best Restaurants List and he has a 32-restaurant empire, so it's time to get excited about authentically done, high end Peruvian. Look for Tanta, the third location of a concept also in Lima and Barcelona, at 118 W. Grand this spring. [Tribune]
• C-House, which lost chef Nicole Pedersen to Found (sounds really weird when you say it that way), managed to outlast the place that opened around the same time that it was always confused with, Custom House, but is now closing. The upscale restaurant at MileNorth, a Chicago Hotel, the former Affinia, opened in 2008 to a big splash under chef Marcus Samuelsson, though we've heard little about him in Chicago (as opposed to nationally) since. Its last service will be Saturday night, and a more casual concept will be unveiled after a renovation.
• Cru Kitchen & Bar, last known as Cru Cafe & Wine Bar to us, announces a new menu and a new team: Alex Shalev as Executive Chef, Benjamin Augustine as Beverage Manager and Becci West as General Manager. Shalev is a veteran of Park Grill and Sola; Augustine was at Sepia, as was West. No word about what former chef Richard Roettgen, an Alinea vet, is doing now.
• In part because they got so many calls wanting them for New Year's Eve, critical fave Vera resolved to start taking reservations. Over the phone and via email for now, but they hope to be up and running with an online reservation service by the beginning of February.