Start making your reservations now.
California cuisine, that vegetable-glorifying inheritance of Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse and of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago—whose goat cheese and smoked salmon pizzas, by the way, were irreverent and revolutionary in the 1980s—has not diminished in the decades since its inception. If anything, its origins bear more weight than ever in this era of "ingredient-first" New American cooking.
And it is this type of ode that Erling Wu-Bower is proclaiming with this newest restaurant, Pacific Standard Time, which opens Monday, April 30, in Chicago. The three-time James Beard Award finalist will be executive chef, while partner Joshua Tilden will be acting as chief operating officer.
Like so many restaurants representative of the West Coast that it titularly references—Spago, Gjelina, Bestia—Pacific Standard Time will revolve around two wood-burning ovens that comprise its hearth.
"A hearth encourages conversation—you're sitting around a fire, you're having fun," Wu-Bower said. "There's something innately good in burnt edges, the thin side of a steak, and the things that aren't perfect. Cooking with fire is way harder, but it tastes better." It’s this casual, yet well-thought-out execution that you’ll find in his roasted baby carrots with zhoug, almond, and dill, or Lett-ian ramp and ham pizza with olive.
Wu-Bower cut his teeth at the restaurants of Chicago juggernaut Paul Kahan, best known for his Midwestern-centric spots like Publican and the Spanish-adjacent Avec, where chorizo-stuffed dates have risen to justifiable fame. Cosmo Goss, the former executive chef at Publican, was set to join Wu-Bower in this latest venture until he got fired from Publican for sharing an inappropriate photo at work. Goss has since been dropped from “any involvement” in Pacific Standard Time.
Pacific Standard Time is currently accepting reservations for dinner.