Tim Graham worked under Rick Tramonto at Tru before running the kitchen from 2007 to 2009, where he was known for using his biochemistry and food science background in experimental cuisine. From there, Graham closed Brasserie Jo and opened Paris Club for Lettuce Entertain You. As Chicago magazine first reported, he's left LEYE to open a moderately priced, casually elegant Mediterranean concept this July in the Langham Hotel at Travelle. (Yes, that's "travel" with the accent shifted.) We got Graham on the phone to give us some more details on the project.
"Lettuce was an amazing company to work for," Graham says. "I had a lot of mentors there. Then this opportunity came along and I thought it would be a good, comfortable transition. The Langham has a lot of the same structure that I'm comfortable working in so the transition isn't as large as I had thought it would be. It's amazing in a hotel setting like this how much support you have."
Expect entrées at Travelle to be in the $24 to $28 price range with items like pita balloons, flaming chicken saganaki and Turkish pepper paste on the menu. There will also be an eight-seat kitchen table that offers a special tasting menu.
Graham will also be responsible for in-room dining, where hotel guests will be able to order items like tuna nicoise a la carpaccio and handmade pastas from Travelle's menu.
"The vision of the restaurant is mine and the restaurant team's," he says. "In my training, I'm really well-versed in Western European cooking. A lot of these Middle Eastern spices weren't even on my radar but they have pantry staples like aleppo pepper that are so exotic and flavor forward."
Graham will serve a lot of fish at Travelle, both Mediterranean and local varieties. "I love whitefish, especially smoked whitefish," he says. "I'm toying with the notion of a charcuterie board, but a "sea"cuterie board. You'd see a lot of the Great Lakes fishes there. For example, smoked whitefish rillette, boulliabaise terrine, and instead of a veal boudin it would be a scallop boudin."