I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Tyler Nelson at Viand mid-May 2015. Chef Nelson is the Executive Chef at Viand and he is a very engaging individual who is passionate about his cooking; I experienced some of the best food that I have ever eaten during my visit with him. It would not surprise me to see Chef Nelson as a James Beard nominee in the very near future. Chef Nelson has held a number of different roles of increasing responsibilities in the kitchens of different hotels in the Chicago area.
He embraces several rules very tightly. First, he sources all his produce from farms within 250 miles of Chicago and he completely subscribes to the farm-to-table goal. Secondly, everything at his restaurant is 100% scratch made, he even makes all his sauces.
Chef Nelson was born and raised in the Midwest. As such, his style is Midwest centric with a slant towards comfort foods that are uniquely prepared, Chef Nelson wants his guests to know that he welcomes special requests and he truly enjoys making what his guests want to eat. He is really one of the most passionate chefs I have met.
Even something as simple as a Reuben sandwich that is made with corn beef takes two months to reach perfection, the Reuben is one of his most popular lunch items.
Chef Nelson sources his cheese from the Carr Valley Creamery in Wisconsin. I had the pleasure of trying his cheese plate and I was impressed by the variety of flavors and textures. This is truly a cheese lover’s destination!
If you are a seafood lover, you will be thrilled to know that Viand seafood in never frozen and is always within 24 hours of catch.
I asked Chef Nelson what he defined as his signature dish and without hesitation, he responded ‘Pork Bellies’. He delivered his pork belly dish to our table within minutes and the pork belly was served on a bed of grits with crumbled bacon. All I can say is that this is the must-try-it menu item! It was spectacular! If you’re looking for something more traditional, I would highly recommend the pork chops. Chef Nelson makes one of the best pork chops I’ve ever had.
Although we were on Michigan Avenue, the prices did not reflect it. You will pay at Viand on average somewhere between $15 to $16 for a menu item at lunch. The average dinner menu items are around $25 per person.
The busiest time of the week for Viand is on the weekends for brunch. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays between 7am and 3pm. Dinners are popular as well and they do suggest reservations, but walk-ins are certainly welcomed.
During the summer months, Viand opens up their sidewalk café seating. This is the seat to have for great food and people watching.
Viand also has live music every Friday between 5:30pm and 8:30pm; it is a great place to stop after a long work week in the city.
Viand offers two very noteworthy weekly specials. First is their local craft beer and gourmet burger for $16 on Monday nights. Secondly, is their Wednesday night wine special of ½ price on selected bottles of wine. The restaurant typically gets a good sized crowd on both of these nights.
Viand also has a terrific bar. Mr. Eric Howard is Viand’s Lead Bartender. There are three things you definitely need to try at the bar: 1) the blueberry ribs are some of the best you’ll ever have… period; 2) the char-grilled honey glazed wings take chicken wings to a new level; and 3) Eric’s signature drink is his Jungle Bird Tropical Cocktail. He makes it with dark rum, Campari, pineapple juice, and fresh squeezed limes. This drink makes you wish you were on a beach in the Caribbean!
I also had the pleasure of meeting Erica Bizer, Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Viand and Dominic Angotti, Viand Bar & Kitchen Manager. Erica informed me of some wonderful events at Viand, such as mixology events that take place in the restaurant and also Chef Dinners that are on a request only basis. Both events would be outstanding for singles, couples, or large corporate or special occasion groups.
Overall, a 5 star experience at Viand Kitchen & Bar! Truly, everything I ate at Viand was 5 stars including the salads, appetizers, main dishes and dessert-if you have yet to visit, put on your running shoes now and go! I will definitely be back and highly recommend it to my readers, family and friends!
Viand Bar & Kitchen
155 East Ontario St.
Chicago, IL 60611
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