Here’s the dining buzz from the East, West, and middle coasts:
CHICAGO: We, 172 W. Adams St., (312) 917-5608
Intimate and swanky, We, situated in the new W Chicago-City Center hotel, brings good humor to fine dining. Influenced by Paris’ Spoon, We invites diners to mix and match sauces and sides with fish, fowl, or meat entrees. Start with the zesty mussel soup, then take the chef’s recommendations for five-spice duck in star anise sauce and the salmon with leeks. Curvy velvet banquettes embrace diners in the chic, candlelit room.
LOS ANGELES: Zax, 11604 San Vicente Blvd., (310) 571-3800
A cozy neighborhood restaurant with superior food and no attitude — in L.A.? Yep. And for those reasons, fans are buzzing about Zax, the ivy-covered Brentwood bistro. At age 23, chef Brooke Williamson performs like a prodigy, turning out subtle seasonal dishes such as clams and cockles in lemongrass broth, market vegetable risotto, and veal medallions with porcini mushrooms. Watch her work under the brass-hooded open kitchen amid the brick-walled 60-seater.
NEW YORK: Fiamma, 206 Spring St., (212) 653-0100
Fiamma stands out amid SoHo competitors for style as well as substance. Chef-partner Michael White earned his chops at Chicago’s Spiaggia before heading east to prepare such contemporary Italian fare as rabbit with crispy artichokes, scallop carpaccio with olives and capers, and pecorino-cheese-crusted lamb. An exterior fire-engine-red glass elevator, courtesy of designer Jeffrey Beers, whisks patrons to the second-floor main dining room.