Food & Drink

Farm-fresh cuisine in River North

When a sports franchise needs an overhaul, they bring in a heavy hitter and hand him the reigns -- the Dolphins tapped Bill Parcells to right their ship, while the Lions brought in Matt Millen to ensure they'd get every 1st-round receiver ever. Bringing in a culinary ringer, Farmerie 58

With F58, the owners of what was Republic have rustic'd up their bi-level restaurant and entrusted it to the exotically named William Alexander (ex- of The Dining Room at Kendall College, and N'Orleans stalwarts Emeril's and Commander's Palace), who's switched the menu from Asian to locally sourced & sustainable, southern-tinged American bistro fare. Appetizers include short-rib ravioli w/ house-made ricotta, crab cakes w/ remoulade & endive marmalade, dirty rice'd roasted duck gumbo, and sliced pancetta-abetted diver scallops (like there's any other kind -- those scallops aren't just crawling up onto your plate). Sturdier stuff comes in the form of Muscovy duck breast, braised pork belly, black cod w/ smoked cheddar grit cakes, a fried egg & manchego-topped Andouille burger, and Amish chicken breast w/ quail egg, truffle gnocchi, wild 'shrooms, and parmesan-chili broth -- just like Ishmael Boorg used to make it

F58's cocktails also go the sustainable route (i.e., the Farm Fresh Mojito). Upstairs, you'll also find an L-shaped raw bar serving East & West Coast oysters and, nostalgically, Republic's vaunted maki rolls -- to build a winner, even The Tuna needs a few holdovers.