In some ways, Logan Square’s Longman & Eagle has grappled with a crisis of identity—or lack thereof—ever since Jared Wentworth’s departure as executive chef, says his latest heir to the kitchen, Maxwell Robbins. “It was handed from chef to chef who were continuing to cook ‘in the style of’ Jared,” Robbins says. “We want what will keep us at the forefront of dining in the next eight years, rather than something that was trendy eight years ago.” Robbins’ new menu, along with that of new pastry chef Juan Gutierrez, succeeds in this regard, as the pair eschews pretension in a return to “rustic and restrained elegance,” as Robbins puts it.
The old guard need not fear, though: The seasonal focus on high-quality Midwestern fare remains (along with the much-loved L&E burger and many of the long-devoted staffers). Start things off with sumptuous bone marrow ($15), an easy favorite topped with capers, shallots and gobs of marrow custard and served with fantastically crusty slices of sourdough. Top entrees include a vegetable-forward beet-and-ricotta gnocchi ($14)—a beautiful ruby-red dish sprinkled with shredded blue cheese and hazelnuts—and the duck breast ($25), served in a pool of jus along with plump matzo balls, petite carrots and dollops of celery root cream.
The young Gutierrez has performed wonders with his inventive desserts, including a picturesque deconstructed coconut cheesecake ($12), a fanciful plate that is at once Instagram-ready and delicious. With these two at the helm, it appears the restaurant’s future is in good hands. 2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773.276.7110, longmanandeagle.com –Ariel Cheung