It's difficult for me to pinpoint how long it's been since I've been to a West Grand restaurant---like every Chicago neighborhood this one has evolved but not as quickly as others. The experts say restaurants have to renew themselves or die every few years, but chefs and personalities come and go and change trajectories.
I remember eating at Savannah's on this street 15 years ago when a version of comforting Southern cooking first became hip in the cities. Now Two, which is combining a couple of concepts that have been winning hearts and minds in other neighborhoods. (Thinking of Yusho in Humboldt Park.) opened about eight months ago. Chefs Tom Van Lente and Kevin Cuddihee offer a menu of “medium plates,” which is precisely what they are. And, of course, perfect portions for sharing. My brother Tom took a big family group to Two for his son Joe's 30th birthday and we luckily sampled a variety of dishes so the Lenten non-meat-eaters and total vegans were just as happy as the Colanders who will eat anything that is put in front of them.
I probably ate way more than my share of the Roasted brussel sprouts with homemade bacon, pink laddy apples and lemon juice. My runner--up favorites were the golden beet sald with a ricotta fritter and duck fat potato croquettes, chili herb aioli and Wisconsin parmesan. There is one drawback to lots of plates and that is a tendency to over eat because you want to try everything at once. And by the time you get to dessert, even a couple of bites seem impossible. But you have to try anyway: They have three at Two a banana split, on top of a waffle; Banana Bread Pudding, my favorite with salted bourbon caramel sauce and house made ice cream and Homemade pretzel donuts served with hot chocolate. Another reason for over-indulging was the friendly service of the doting General Manager Yamandu Perez born in Santiago, Chile and raised in Cuba, France Uruguay and Alaska. Perez opened Zak's Place in Hinsdale so Two is his second restaurant. Two Executive Chef Tom Van Lente is the grandson of legendary Tony DeSantis of Drury Lane Theatre fame. Tom's got the communicator DNA and he's also got a degree in culinary science from Kendall College.
Two, which takes it's name from the fact that the restaurant is outfitted with equipment, decorations and tables and chairs that are on their second life---we were sitting on chairs that had been used at a school and were perfectly comfortable. My advice would be to get downtown for a meal before the summer rush because the only trouble with new restaurants is that the word spreads quickly. Ciao for now!