Rita Dever, LEYE corporate chef, was a guest on our Grits, Gullah, and the Three o'Clock Dinner Flavor Foray in Charleston. Chicago writer Barbara Revsine wrote about Beatrix, a concept Dever developed in Chicago.
ALL DAY, YOUR WAY
Creators reveal the story behind the birth of a crowd pleasing everyday restaurant in Chicago.
By Barbara Revsine August 16, 2016
Photo Credit: Anjali Pinto
Credit Richard Melman, Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ chairman and founder, with laying the foundation for Restaurant Beatrix’s eclectic menu. “Much of the menu is based on the dishes the staff puts together when I’m working in the corporate office,” he says. “I’ll call when I’m on my way. They’ll ask what I feel like eating and then have everything prepped and ready to go when I get there.”
“Rich has a knack for pinpointing the kind of food people want to eat on an everyday basis,” corporate chef Rita Dever, a partner in various LEYE restaurants, observes. “That’s a real plus for a ‘something for everyone’ restaurant like Beatrix.”
Melman also has a knack for names. Both his mother and his wife Martha’s mothers are named Beatrice. So Beatrix includes both of them.
What a lot of diners don’t realize is that Beatrix is housed in the Aloft Hotel, which is steps from the Hyatt Place Hotel and the Marriott. Do the numbers, and it’s a potential market that’s sizable, eclectic and-given the proximity to the hotels- weather proof, which is a boon in Chicago especially in winter months. Visitors aside, Beatrix gets kudos from locals and critics alike.
Dever says Beatrix’s menu is more concerned with taste than trend. “The food is diverse, yet well-balanced, and timely, and well within most diners’ comfort zone.”
The various divisions within LEYE work as a team, each one complete with a corporate chef who’s responsible for fielding chefs’ suggestions as a prelude to recipe development and testing. For Beatrix, Rita worked with fellow chef/partners Susan Weaver and John Chiakulas.
Beatrix’s breakfast menu exemplifies the restaurant’s game plan. A sizable percentage of the Aloft’s guests eat breakfast at the restaurant. Guests who stay more than one night are likely to eat there several times during their stay, so a variety of options is a must, as is a really good cup of coffee. To insure the latter, Beatrix offers locally roasted coffees from two artisanal purveyors–Metropolis and Intelligentsia.
LEYE’s company-wide commitment to offering healthy and allergen sensitive choices is readily apparent. Included in the mix are a breakfast sandwich made with egg whites and two egg white omelets, one done with organic kale and spinach, the other with organic turkey bacon and white cheddar.
One of the most popular breakfast entrees is made with quinoa cakes, a dish originally used as a passed hors d’oeuvre. At some point, Dever realized the cakes would make an interesting base in a revamped version of eggs Benedict. In the finished dish, a lighter, egg-based sauce is used in lieu of hollandaise and an equally light tomato sauce is spooned around the quinoa cakes. In addition to being healthier than a traditional Benedict, the dish is also gluten-free.
On the heartier side of the breakfast menu, there’s a braised pot roast and egg sandwich, steak chimichurri with eggs and grilled shishito peppers, sides like brown sugar bacon and chicken sausage, and a Belgian style waffle partnered with strawberries, vanilla syrup, and cream. Rounding out the menu, there’s a selection of made –in- house baked goods and numerous gluten-free options, along with dishes for vegans and vegetarians alike.
Beatrix has two locations, one in River North and the other in Streeterville, which given the proximity to Northwestern Hospital, has a substantial grab and go market.
Streeterville: 671 N. St. Clair 312.642.0001
River North: 519 N. Clark Street 312.284.1377
Barbara Revsine is a Chicago based food writer who blogs at http://www.chicagonow.com/pantry-to-plate/