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Review Mon Apr 26 2010

Sable Kitchen & Bar Arrives with Twists and Turns

sablecocktail.jpgThere is no shortage of places to explore the art of the cocktail near the Magnificent Mile and River North.

The Bar at the Peninsula (108 E. Superior St.) is a must-visit for locals and visitors alike looking for classic cocktails in a hushed setting that is opulent yet comfortable. A few blocks north, The Drawing Room's (937 N. Rush St.) cool and understated luxury is a most pleasant surprise given both its location adjacent to a nightclub and its edgy, masterful cocktails. Restaurant Graham Elliot's (217 W. Huron St.) eclectic and sophisticated drink program is delivered with impressive consistency in the convivial River North space. Add to these options Sable Kitchen & Bar, which opened last month.

Sable boasts Hollywood glamor, but the character of the space is more modern and sleek, except for the unfortunate flat-screen televisions and digital fireplace. Jacques Bezuidenhout and Mike Ryan are at the helm, and the cocktail menu unfolds like a narrative that both teases and admonishes.

For example, the menu lists War of the Roses, made with Tanqueray 10 Gin, Pimms #1, St. Germain Elderflower and grapefruit bitters, under the header "Be Gentle." It was indeed a smooth introduction to Sable's mixology. The State Street Smash falls in the "Conquer the World" category. Calvados Busnel VSPO, honey, mint, lime and Angostura bitters together were complex and uplifting.

Ever one to up the ante, I jumped quickly to the menu's "I Dare You" section for the Clint Eastwood. Sable offers an extensive selection of brown spirits, and the Clint Eastwood shows that their mixologists know how to use them. Wild Turkey Rye and Green Chartreuse face off in this seriously forward cocktail, while Angostura bitters maintain a deliciously tenuous balance.

In contrast, Chef Heather Terhune's menu of New American comfort food is absent of drama. Sable takes its name from "Father of Chicago" colonist Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable. In his spirit, the food menu encourages exploration with many of the starters and main dishes available in half and full portions, most reasonably priced.

Moroccan Spiced Almonds and Cashews were served warm but tasted of little more than nuts and salt. However, the Deviled Eggs were simple and voluminous with velvety yolks kissed with truffle oil and black trumpet mushrooms. Miniature Ahi Tuna Tartar Tacos suffered from too much citrus and papery tortillas, but the Sweet Corn Crème Brûlée was how all creamed corn should be--superbly rich with bursts of sweetness from whole kernels and topped with an attractive amber crust.

The batter-to-bird ratio of the Spicy Buttermilk Fried Quail skewed too much to the former. The dish, overall, was exceedingly wet and sweet, though the blue cheese slaw with its long, thin cuts of celery and decadent dressing was redemptive. To close, flatbread with prosciutto, black olives, arugula and fried farm egg was heavily dressed but well-rounded and hearty. Given the breadth of Sable's offerings, it's not difficult to leave there sated.

Sable Kitchen & Bar is located at 505 N. State St., adjacent to the Hotel Palomar, 312-755-9704.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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