Phil Vettel reviews Wherewithall

Data pix.

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim, the husband-wife duo behind the acclaimed Parachute, recently opened Wherewithall, just a block south of their first restaurant.

It's a cute space, a mix of individual and banquette seating, the look softened by fabric shades on the hanging lights. The menu is limited; Wherewithall serves exclusively a four-course dinner, priced at $65 dollars. But the restricted format, the chefs say, opens the doors for creativity and experimentation.

The constant change means that what you see is not what you get. One or two of these dishes have already changed from the way they looked Wednesday, and by next week, who knows? But for point of reference, here's what we found:

First up was a dish of sauteed and glazed mushrooms, along with egg yolk cured in lapsang souchong tea, topped with chervil leaves. Then came steelhead trout, seared crisp on a plancha and served with a red-wine butter sauce with huckleberries, and topped with braised red cabbage with a bit of horseradish oil.

The main course was roast venison loin from New Zealand, matched with roasted celery root and celery root puree; the sauce is a brown-butter and burnt-honey vinaigrette with hints of lemongrass.

Finally, there is dessert, in this case milk ice cream and fermented honey, topped by fry bread dusted with bee pollen; a very pretty presentation.

Every dinner, by the way, includes three unannounced bites that arrive to the table. These are fun little surprises, and we didn't want to give the surprise away.

I give Wherewithall, 3472 North Elston Avenue, three stars. Clark and Kim have won plenty of awards for Parachute, including a James Beard chef award, and I think they have another hit on their hands.

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