photo: courtesy of Flatwater
The word "flatwater" refers to certain wake-free sections of the Chicago River, where drivers are asked to cool their boats' engines in order to preserve the calm. The mellow water's namesake grill simulates this situation, where restaurant-side docks invite captains to park their boats and grab some grub.
Brought to you by the owner of Narcisse, Flatwater sits on the river in the old Sorriso spot. When the weather allows, a patio nestled by the water provides space for 80 al fresco fiends, and a rooftop terrace affords a bird's-eye-view of the city below. The restaurant is prepared for harsher climates, too: Inside the 3,500-square-foot joint, a flagstone fireplace stands amidst plush banquettes.
Executive Chef Todd Ryan Downing serves the downtown crowd a selection of moderately priced ($10-$20), internationally-influenced cuisine. Quirky menu items include the flight of hot dogs and beers, which pairs a chicken chilidog, a Chicago-style beef hotdog and a corndog with a beer for each dog. Flatbreads are covered in spices and a three-cheese blend and served with toppings like New Zealand green lip mussels and chorizo; the menu's International Flair section features options such as Kung Pao chicken quesadillas and coconut-cashew curry tacos. Look for specialty drinks like the Flatwater's Edge: a mix of lychee puree, Pama and pear liquor chilled with champagne ice cubes.
Chef Downing takes a similar approach to the breakfast menu, where basics are served alongside traditional favorites with a twist. Have the pancakes and cereal; or try the egg pie served with fresh fruit and baby green salad or the creme brulee pain perdue, a Custard marinated French bread topped with whipped cream, mango-dark rum anglaise, fresh fruit and powdered sugar.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg