Curve Ball

Ariel Cheung | September 14, 2018 | Feature Features

A Michelin-starred chef teams up with ace restaurateur Matthias Merges to open Mordecai, a restaurant as American as baseball.
The sweeping bar on the second floor of Mordecai features shelves meant to resemble the zoom of a fastball.

It’s an attractive assortment of plates: a double burger assembled with Slagel Family Farm beef and melty, smoky Gruyere; chicken roasted to perfection atop charred broccolini and potatoes; and pink coins of seared ahi tuna swimming in a basin of curried lobster emulsion. Apt fare for fine dining—but crowd-pleasing too. In other words, apt fare for Wrigleyville.

Yes, Wrigleyville, where fine dining has arrived in the form of Mordecai. While beloved Chicago eats like Smoke Daddy and Big Star surround the Friendly Confines, those looking to sit down for a three-course meal should make their way to Hotel Zachary to sample executive chef Jared Wentworth’s refined American delights at the Cub legend-honoring restaurant within.

If it’s a game night, try for a table by the huge retractable window facing the ballpark. As the babble of Wrigley Field fills the restaurant, pick a sipper; the Bills in Foil cocktail ($13), with its lilt of pear cider mingling with tequila, is a choice option, while the carob in Duped by Three Fingers ($14) gives the warm, wheated bourbon a light, sweet edge. For straighter stuff, head upstairs, where rare-spirits forager Alex Bachman has assembled a bevy of tempting treats, like 1954 Pebble-Ford bonded straight bourbon ($165 for a 2-ounce pour) or Oishii Wisukii blended Scotch whisky ($110). Bachman also sourced vintage bottles of familiar brands—particularly whiskey and gin—to “showcase how those spirits were originally intended to be made,” he explains.


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