The latest member of Chicago's local food movement is B., a hyperlocal farm-to-table located at the newly renovated Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center just 30 minutes west of downtown (www.blocalbfresh.com). Centered around three core pillars; local, fresh and seasonal, B.'s "casually dramatic" identity is distinctive in every aspect of the original concept, from its modern design meets Audubon setting to its globally artistic menu designed by executive chef Sean Patrick Curry. Among the highlights, the 167-seat full-service restaurant, which is now officially open to the public, features a patisserie helmed by an award-winning pastry chef, a bourbon-focused lounge, Chef's Gardens for ingredient sourcing, and an on-site honey harvesting program aimed at raising awareness for declining honeybees.
A wide selection of local, fresh and seasonal flavors is meticulously hand-crafted to create simple food with depth, what Curry calls, "modern farm cuisine." The modern refers to contemporary, artistically plated dishes. The farm cuisine is the connection between the food and the people behind it. According to Curry, "if we don't grow it here, we buy it local. It's about old school preparation mixed with new school presentation."
The commitment to sourcing close to home provides B. with healthy, sustainable ingredients that not only taste "super fresh," but also have better flavor and texture than those that have traveled a long distance. In order to serve the freshest product possible, Curry sources from a 2,000 square-foot Chef's Garden located on the resort's 150 sprawling acres. He has also partnered with a lineup of notable Midwestern farms and purveyors, including: Viking Farm, Butcher and Larder, Great American Cheese, Seedling Farm, Heritage Prairie Farm, Kilgus Farm, and Local Foods - to name a few. When Chicago's growing season is on hiatus, Curry and his dedicated staff will incorporate the use of traditional preservation techniques, such as pickling, in order to keep the farm-fresh structure alive. Rotating seasonal lunch and dinner menus give guests a variety of dining options, from shared plates, charcuterie (prepared by an in-house butcher) and thin crust pizzas drizzled with house-farmed B. Honey, to chef-crafted entrees that can be paired with any number of courses or ordered individually.
With 25 years of culinary experience beginning with an apprenticeship in France, Curry's cooking vision reflects a classical approach. He is determined on constructing sustainable dishes that are seductive to the eye and inviting to the palate. Concerned for the declining honeybee populations, which pollinate one-third of the world's food supply, Curry decided to become a certified beekeeper several years ago. At B., he tends to 10 large beehives on-site with up to a half million honeybees that A) pollinate his Chef's Gardens and B) produce honey he harvests to flavor dishes and desserts. For Curry, it's about sustaining resources for future generations.
"Being a chef means more than just having good ingredients; I want to have a higher purpose," said Curry, a city kid from Philadelphia who grew to value the importance of responsible farming. "Taking care of bees allows them to take care of us."
Headed by pastry chef Erica Tomei, who won the American Culinary Federation's cake competition in 2014, B. Patisserie not only fills a void in the local Oak Brook/Westmont bakery scene, but also continues to raise the overall sensory experience at B. with its fresh-baked aromas and creative offerings. B. Patisserie features Tomei's daily hand-crafted specialties, everything from honey cinnamon scones made with house-farmed B. Honey to artisan breads started from home-grown yeasts.
"My creations flow as an extension of Chef Sean's food," said Tomei, who accepts custom orders (phone: 630-850-5524) for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and the like. "Chef and I can take any special request - egg-free, nut-free, gluten-free - to fit any dietary need."
Tomei's unique ability for flavor profiling is evident in her beautifully balanced concepts, whether it's a honey cupcake or a cinnamon swirl brioche. She admittedly is not afraid to think outside the box, to mix a little sweet with savory. According to Curry, Tomei's "gift for combining flavors" to create something truly unique translates across cultures and taste buds.
There is an air of impeccable service and casual luxury inside B. Lounge, with an always blazing wood-fire oven and high top communal tables establishing a high energy, yet warm and comfortable bar atmosphere. The open floor plan emphasizes a social environment, where a sense of "community" is paramount.
Small-batch bourbons take center stage on the drink menu, while an innovative craft cocktail list provides versatile classics with modern twists, many featuring a savory element and the same farm-to-table influences seen in the restaurant menu. The dynamic wine list at B. Lounge is extensive, featuring a wide-array of eclectic, worldly bottles and glasses of red, white and bubbly.
B. is set on an Audubon Certified Cooperative Sanctuary that is part of the 18-hole Championship Willow Crest Golf Club. Cared after by a full-time horticultural staff, B.'s outdoor initiatives consist of the aforementioned honeybee program and gardens for hyperlocal sourcing. The growing space includes a main Chef's Garden for vegetables, a Cocktail Garden for herb infusions, and a Foodscaping Garden for ornamental / functional edibles. The breathtaking views of the gardens, rolling hills and reflecting ponds from B.'s floor-to-ceiling windows are unparalleled in the suburban dining scene, adding yet again to the full sensory experience.
B.'s design mixes modern flare with the golden age of leisure. Led by the architectural firm of O'Kelly Kasprak, the inspiration is motivated by local history and mid-century modern simplicity. The theme incorporates natural tones with punches of color that give a sense of history, geometric patterns that feel modern, and orthogonal lines that create open space.
B. Contact Info:
Address: 3500 Midwest Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523
Reservations: Available on www.blocalbfresh.com/contact-us
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