Back in the day, fun casual dining meant one thing: Bennigans. No, Fuddruckers! Shut up, we're going to Bennigans, and we're going to have fun, casually. Showing just how far we've come from those very limited days, The Commissary in One Arts Plaza.
Armed with outdoor seats overlooking the courtyard fountain, John Tesar's latest aims at being a seriously gourmet but totally laid-back hangout with an eclectically artistic vibe highlighted by an original Sasso from Tesar's personal stash, clocks straight from Lucy Billingsley's collection, and wooden works from Kevin McCarthy -- the Barney's window-dresser, not the majority whip who's always trying to dress down Barney Frank. What you're gonna get:
Burgers: The 14-strong lineup runs from the "Tail End" (braised pig's tail, ground pork & beef, roasted pork belly, tomato chutney, jalapeno mayo), to a crab-cake number with basil scallion dip and arugula, which is a "VEG IT AH BULL".
Dinner Plates: Traditionals see white lasagna w/ fried eggplant & ricotta and roasted organic chicken w/ sautéed chicken liver, mortadella & panzanella salad, while Commissary originals include dishes like whole roasted sweetbreads with oyster 'shrooms, sherry vinaigrette, and creamer potatoes -- but not Cream-in, as that's a registered trademark of Willie. Willie Beamen.
Booze: Michael Martinsen cocktails and sangria'll highlight the adult bevvies, rounded out by 200 wines and 40+ defiantly artisanal beers, with the one tap being Rahr, whose slogan should totally be "Rahr: Ask for it by bear-noise".
As if that wasn't enough, in a few weeks, Tesar will open a resto-within-the-resto called The Table; serving daily changing prix-fixe tastings, it'll be a 12-seat vision of "deconstructed formal dining", which in this place opens up dizzying possibilities, but back in the '70s only meant one thing: Steak. And. Ale.