My wife and I have a couple of friends with whom we enjoy trying new restaurants. Not always brand new, mind you. But if none of us have eaten there before, we still say it’s ‘new.’ In the case of our most recent dinner, Heyday, it really is fairly new. It opened in April 2014.
We had a reservation, and it was fairly early – 6 p.m. When we arrived, the restaurant was not very busy. We got a friendly greeting from the host and joined our friends who were already seated. Our server popped by after we were seated and had a chance to peruse the menus. Heyday has a good selection of wine by the glass. I was tempted by a Lambrusco, which you don’t see too often on menus in the U.S., but reminded me of our trip last spring to Italy and Emilio-Romagna. But ultimately I went with a chianti. (Another Italy reminder. It was very nice.) Heyday also has an interesting selection of beer on tap, including several local brews. The cocktail menu caught my wife’s eye. She was intrigued by a cocktail called The Garter Belt – gin, rose wine, and Dolin Blanc, a style of vermouth. (Click here to learn more than you probably ever wanted to know about different styles of vermouth. The gin, by the way, was Letherbee, a Chicago distillery that’s distributed locally by Tradition Wine & Spirits.)
We had several questions about items on the menu. Our server was very helpful and knowledgeable. For example, my wife is sensitive to cilantro. She asked if one of the items was made with cilantro. The server didn’t have to ‘check with the chef.’ She knew right away that it did not.
The server suggested that we order several plates for the four of us to share. She suggested three plates per person,which would have been 12 for the four of us. Ultimately, we only ordered eight plates. That was fine. But anyone with a big appetite probably would have wanted more. Also, some of the plates, especially the starters, were quite small and difficult for four people to share. In general, I would advise splitting a plate between only two people.
For starters, we ordered a melon salad, lamb tartare, a chicken liver tart, and a gorgonzola tart. They all were very good. The general consensus was that the chicken liver tart and the gorgonzola were the best.
Our next round of plates was nominally our ‘entrées’. They were bigger, and higher price. But none of the items that we ordered included a potato or rice or couscous. In fact, those starchy side dishes aren’t available at all on the menu, either as sides or accompanying an entrée. Heyday does serve good bread, however, and brought a second basket when we requested. We weren’t very diverse in ordering entrées. We all ordered fish – three of us ordered Dorade (sea bream) and one ordered black cod.
All of the food that we had at Heyday was excellent. The flavors were great. The plates looked very appealing. The fish was expertly prepared. When we got the bill, it really was a pretty reasonable total. But it was kind of expensive for the amount of food, and if we had ordered another round of plates, it would have been proportionately more expensive. (We did not order dessert. But our server brought us a plate with a selection of four morsels to sample. Nice touch.)
By the time we left, most of the tables were taken. Full on a Wednesday night – not bad. Bodes well for the future of Heyday.