French Restaurants Have Been Closing In Chicago. Can Le Sud Buck The Trend? Mais Oui.

Phil Vettel | Chicago Tribune | November 12, 2018

Le Sud is only 7 weeks old, but already looks like a hit. It has a veteran management team, a chef who cooks with intelligence and purpose, an interesting and highly affordable wine list, and bright, attentive service.

Good night, everybody!

OK, details. Le Sud (“the south”) sits on the western fringe of Roscoe Village, a cute-as-a-button corner space with 120 seats, divided equally between main-level and second-floor dining rooms. (The latter, with its own bar, is suitable for private events.) The decor is a Chicago-meets-Provence look that includes stamped-pattern silver ceiling tiles, exposed brick walls, ornate-framed mirrors, wall-mounted dinner plates and cute chandeliers that resemble uplit milk bottles.

Above the pass (the space between kitchen and dining room) is a shelf with cookbooks and knickknacks, against a slab of black slate painted with food and wine images and the phrases a votre sante (“to your health”) and nourriture de comfort (“comfort food,” though it really ought to be confort). The menu adopts the old-school approach of labeling appetizers “les entrees” and main courses “les plats.”

Given the general decline in the number of French restaurants in Chicago — particularly the dearth of new openings — these unapologetic accents carry a certain “come at me bro” bravado.

Which apparently resonates among the locals: The downstairs dining room has been filled, or nearly so, on all of my visits (none of them on the weekend). In a smart move, Le Sud takes reservations only for half its capacity, encouraging walk-in guests.

Owner Sandy Chen, who also owns Koi Fine Asian Cuisine in Evanston, took her inspiration from her travels in Southern France. But the menu, by executive chef Ryan Brosseau (Perennial Virant, Table, Donkey & Stick), also dips its toes into the Mediterranean from time to time.

CONTINUE READING