Roister a louder, more casual sibling to Alinea, Next

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Hungry Hound: Roister (WLS)

The team behind fine-dining gems Alinea and Next have finally opened a restaurant a little more on the casual side. It's quite a bit louder than its siblings, but the format is a lot more conducive to sharing.

You could say Roister is the louder, edgier sibling to its next door neighbor, Next, and a lot rowdier than the group's fine-dining gem, Alinea.

"There's no music at Alinea so we wanted the music to be loud. There's not a lot of noise at Alinea so we wanted it to be a really boisterous environment. Obviously Alinea is fun, but we wanted this to really be a little rougher around the edges," said chef Andrew Brochu.

Good starters include oysters that have been sealed in butter with preserved young ginger and horseradish, then roasted and smoked over wood chips and seaweed. When that butter melts, breadcrumbs are added and it's served immediately. A5 Wagyu, one of the world's most highly-marbled grades of beef, is grilled over live fire, then sliced and coated in a butter made with sea urchins, plus a homemade togarashi, or Japanese five-spice blend. There aren't that many pastas, but the homemade macaroni is a standout: drizzled with creme fraiche in the pan, it's combined with several forms of roasted chiles and limes.

"And we do that with different forms of lime. So you have finger lime, key lime, regular lime; and then chilies - poblanos, shishitos - that have all been roasted off in the hearth. Razor clams and littleneck clams as well," said Brochu.

In addition to those clams, tiny bits of tobiko caviar and herb oil, plus freshly-torn mint.

Brochu says pretty much every dish on his menu is capable of either being intended for one, or several.

"So if you did want to have a shareable meal, the entire meal is designed to be shareable we have a section that's for two to six people," he said.

As the chef said, Roister is certainly not a small plates restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, but if you've got a hungry friend or two or three, shareable plates are certainly the way to go.

Roister only takes reservations made online, from a system called "tock."

EXTRA COURSE: Steve talks with chef about one of their most popular desserts, which is definitely unique among candy bars in Chicago.
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Steve talks with the chef at Roister about some of their most popular desserts.

951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago
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