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Minibar Owners to Open Two Restaurants on Halsted, with Skewers and Cajun

By Serena Dai | November 1, 2013 1:44pm

BOYSTOWN — The dining scene on North Halsted is about to get beefed up. 

John Dalton and Stu Zirin, the owners of Minibar and D.S. Tequila, plan to open two new restaurants on the street, a meat-focused one in December and a Cajun one in March.

First on the plate — mEAT, a skewer restaurant at 3339 N. Halsted St., by Minibar, that will celebrate shared dining, Dalton said.

The food is meant to be ordered as a table and set in the middle to be shared, similar to some Japanese restaurants where eaters take what they want with chopsticks, Dalton said. Instead of chopsticks, mEAT offers skewers. 

With about 40 seats, the restaurant mostly has tables for parties of 4 or more to encourage more sharing.

And the menu of meats and fondues caters to the Boystown customer base of women, gay men and men who are into fitness, Dalton said. They created it to be paleo diet-friendly and gluten-free friendly, he said.

"We're really trying to reach out to a theme people can relate to," he said.

Not to say the food doesn't warm the soul. MEAT's sharable side dishes like blue mac n' cheese and quinoa casserole are intended to be comfort foods, Dalton said.

Drinks will be classics with a twist and created by American Junkie mixologist Tony Potempa. Manhattans may come with maple bourbon whipped cream, or palomas could be made with in-house carbonated grapefruit juice instead of a quick squirt, Dalton said.

"We’re doing a lot of jellies, and whipped creams and carbonations and putting them in drinks people know," he said.

The duo, who have been working together for nearly nine years, plan to open mEAT in early December.

Further north, Dalton and Zirin hope to open a New Orleans-themed restaurant and bar next year. Crawdaddy's Hot Tails and Hurricanes, 3445 N. Halsted St., will focus on Southern fried chicken, Cajun food, hurricanes and daquiris, Dalton said.

Dalton has family from Louisiana, and Zirin's cooking "idol" is Chef K-Paul from New Orleans, Dalton said, so they've always wanted to pursue a Creole restaurant.

The goal is to open by Fat Tuesday, or March 4, of next year.