While almost every other chef in America is serving small plates, this Chicago up-and-comer is determined to bring back the entrée.
When he was sous chef at Manhattan’s esteemed Eleven Madison Park, Lee Wolen was entrusted with cooking one of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes, black truffle–stuffed chicken. Daniel Humm, the restaurant’s chef, called Wolen his son. Now, running his own kitchen at Boka in Chicago, Wolen is defining his style. Although almost every other chef in America is serving small or shareable plates, Wolen has created a menu with three defiantly traditional categories: salads, starters and entrées.“So many places are share-plate-oriented; I want people to have food that can be their own,” he says. The standout dish on his thoughtful Mediterranean-American menu: salt cod ravioli, made by slow-cooking house-cured fish in garlicky milk and cream, then mixing in potatoes; the rich cooking liquid becomes a sauce for the stuffed pasta. bokachicago.com.