Blackbird, The Signature Room, Three Floyd's Brew Pub, and opened Trenchermen together. Mike later left to open Cicchetti, an Italian small plates place. I have really liked the restaurants run by both Sheerin Brothers, so i had much confidence in this place. Fortunately or unfortunately, I decided to dine there on Mike Sheerin's reported last day. I did not know that it was Chef Sheerin's last day until after I had dined there, and it really shouldn't matter as the staff and menu should be the same until the new chef has some time to put his stamp on the restaurant (besides the fact that an Executive Chef rarely cooks). The space is located in the new Northwestern Hospital building in Streeterville and has a very open footprint. It has a nice patio, but it was a bit chilly when I went there, so I dined indoors. The outer walls of the space are windows, so the only thing that you are missing by sitting indoors is the weather. Despite the modern window walls, the space had wooden pillars and floors and a very rustic look. Even with an open space, the dining area was divided into three rooms, the front room contained the entrance, several tables, and a large and long bar. The middle space, where I was seated, had seating for about 40 people and an open kitchen. The rear dining area was the largest. All of the spaces had a high, unfinished ceiling with hanging lights. The menu at Cicchetti is roughly divided into two sections. The first section is Cicchetti, Italian for snacks (and very similar to Spanash Tapas) where you will find things such as meatballs, bruschetta, cheese, sardines, and beef carpaccio, which was what I ordered. It was an Aged Hanger Steak Carpaccio which was served with Crispy Cauliflower (dried), Fennel, and Raisin Caper Aioli. The presentation of this very much reminded me of fall with the fennel leaves and dried cauliflower. Unfortunately, while the cauliflower tasted good, the texture also reminded me of eating dried leaves. The carpaccio itself was paper thin and very tender and the raisin caper aioli had the right amount of sweetness and sour. Were it not for the textural issue of the cauliflower, this would have been a great dish.
I really want to like Cicchetti. The space was both modern and rustic, the staff was friendly and helpful, and the food, while not great in every aspect, was good. I do imagine that the new chef, who was part of the team that opened Cicchetti, will put more of his own spin on things as time goes on and that, in and of itself, makes it worth another look.