There are two dishes which, as they take on properties you’d expect of the other, perfectly encapsulate what James Beard Award-winning executive chef Debbie Gold has sought to accomplish at the new Tied House. The first is her dense, crispy sweet potato ($10), rendered strikingly crunchy but balanced by cleansing turnip and fromage blanc. The second is the pork belly ($23). Gold strayed from the ubiquitous crispy variation, braising it in milk instead for a buttery soft take, which contrasts nicely with the thin, winding churro placed on top. “I like to take a simple ingredient and make it the best it can be,” she says. “It’s kind of easy to put caviar or lobster on a plate and get a ‘wow,’ but if you can do that with a sweet potato, that’s the challenge for me.”
It was no small feat to transform Harmony Grill, the casual restaurant adjoining the Schubas Tavern music venue, into a fine-dining establishment still laid-back enough for families to enjoy. Thankfully, the complex’s new ownership team has struck a perfect balance between refined elegance and Midwestern ease.
Across the board, Gold, who earned her stripes in Charlie Trotter's kitchen and returned to Chicago after two decades in Kansas City, packs complexities into her dishes, a tight listing arranged by vegetable, land and sea. Almost as gratifying as the sweet potato, the maitake mushroom ($12) is an umami-packed bundle of flavor accentuated by a pool of leek broth—its only flaw was being small enough a dish to leave us wanting more. To Gold’s surprise, the Parker House rolls (coupled with Publican Quality Bread) have proven to be a runaway success. Along with the breads ($5), Tied House offers a rotating selection of spreads, which included rich bone marrow butter ($6) and a lightly sweet green tomato marmalade ($4) during a recent visit.