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Going 'Wilde' for Salads and Veggies

Profile of Chicago Restaurant, Wilde


Wilde
3130 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
773-244-0404
www.wildechicago.com





Operator Profile by Noble Correspondent, Maria Santonato

‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.’ – Oscar Wilde

And yield you must when you visit Wilde in Chicago. Named after Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, the menu features classic Irish dishes alongside American comfort food with subtle but delicious Celtic touches. In addition, a variety of very inventive vegetable dishes are making the menu wildly popular.

Chef Alan Katz oversees the menu development for Wilde, the first of a soon-to-be three-unit Irish restaurant group in Chicago. Owned by two Irishmen, one of whom still lives part-time in Ireland, the idea was to create a more authentic Irish pub concept—one unlike anything else that existed.

Starting with the brunch menu, Chef Katz serves traditional Irish favorites such as bangers and mash, and black and white puddings alongside one of his specialties called Benedict Wilde. This Eggs Benedict upgrade features traditional poached eggs atop an English muffin with shaved Irish ham, sautéed tomato and a dollop of chive-hollandaise. Katz recently added shirred eggs to the brunch menu. The dish is comprised of two eggs served over spinach, applewood smoked bacon, cream and Parmesan cheese with tomato wedges—and it became an instant hit.

Wilde’s creative cuisine deliciously incorporates a wide variety of Cross Valley Farms® produce into its unique menu.

The Wilde “Soup Veg” Soup is a vegan preparation of a typical Irish soup—but everyone loves it. White beans, chopped kale and diced celery, onion, carrot and potato are slow-cooked in a vegetable broth and served with a side of Irish soda bread and Kerry Gold butter. The small plates menu includes a colorful, decidedly un-Irish edamame and black bean salad with grape tomatoes, corn and green onions served with citrus vinaigrette. A Grilled Tomato Small Plate uses Cross Valley Farms 5 × 6 tomatoes, which are seasoned, grilled, and served with herbed garlic butter.

The salad options are numerous and inventive. One of the most popular is the Knife & Fork Caesar Salad, made with grilled romaine lettuce.

‘I’ve always wanted to do a grilled romaine,’ says Chef Alan Katz. ‘I first had it when I worked in Santa Fe. Charring the lettuce caramelizes it and gives it a unique flavor.’ That flavor is achieved by simply brushing a split head of romaine with olive oil, grilling and topping it with a little salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese and Irish brown bread croutons.

With such a popular menu item, Chef Katz relies on Cross Valley Farms to deliver lettuce that is at its peak, contains no rust or brown edges, and is packed properly for fresh delivery. Katz also chooses romaine hearts over whole romaine to cut down on waste from peeling off the outer leaves. He counts on U.S. Foodservice to come through with the highest produce standards for all the produce purchased for Wilde, because variety, quality and freshness are so important.

In another nod to healthy eating, Chef Katz created a gluten-free menu for Wilde.

In collaboration with owners, chefs, and by listening to customer input, Katz created a widely popular selection of gluten-free dishes. Customers can still get their greens, but the salads are served without croutons, and soups are dished up without the usual breadbaskets. Customers ordering burgers have a gluten-free bun option. When asked about the decision, Katz responds, ‘The idea came from me and the owners, and our customers. It’s a cumulative effect of what’s going on in the world. People read about gluten-free, and now people are asking for it even if they don’t have an allergy.’

The menu is wild at Wilde’s, but with all the wonderful produce and vegetables from Cross Valley Farms, the nutrition and taste couldn’t be more down to earth.