This restaurant, from Chef Shawn McClain, often flies under the radar because while McClain has won James Beard Awards and owned a number of successful restaurants in Chicago, outside of culinary circles, he’s not a household name. As such, this is one of the most underrated restaurants in the city, but one that serious food lovers need to discover for themselves. You could do so at the bar, which not only offers innovative cocktails, but also features one of the few absinthe programs in the city. But I’d recommend heading into the dining room for a more relaxing meal of eclectic dishes like Wagyu beef tartare, prepared with a crushed caper aioli and topped with a poached egg and little chocolate bits that create texture and bitterness. Sage’s signature foie gras custard brûlée is a savory take on the creamy dessert, and it’s just as rich and creamy. The menu changes seasonally, with emphasis on organic, sustainable ingredients, often foraged for Sage itself. Dishes that stay on the menu, like a Wagyu short rib braised for 36 hours, only change up in accompaniment; you might have white asparagus one month, or horseradish-smoked potatoes another. Lighter options include pan-roasted halibut or butter poached salmon.
- Grace Bascos