LINCOLN PARK — Spring has sprung at Summer House Santa Monica.
The newly-opened and California-inspired restaurant in the Armitage-Halsted District changes its menu with the seasons.
"I've been looking forward to it for months," said chef and Lettuce Entertain You partner Jeff Mahin. "It's my favorite time of the year. Everything is fresh. It's budding. It's screaming with flavor."
For spring, the restaurant at 1954 N. Halsted St. will be dishing up new plates like pea tendrils with lemon or a dessert of strawberries with olive oil and marscarpone. Flavors will be fresh, acidic and sharp, Mahin said. The restaurant will take advantage of what's in season to put together new dishes while keeping with the restaurant's goal of minimalism.
"The core philosophy of our menu is really highlighting the actual item," Mahin said. "Instead of chopping it up and making something different with it, we’re just going to have pea tendrils with lemon in it."
Mahin splits his time between Chicago and the actual Santa Monica, where he's also a partner and chef at Stella Barra Pizzeria and M Street Kitchen. In Chicago, he's also involved in Do-Rite Donuts in the Loop.
The main dining area of Summer House pulls off the California vibe, even as below-freezing temps stick around Chicago so far in spring. An expansive retractable roof allows for a wealth of natural light, so much so that the staff even gives out sunglasses on especially bright days.
Diners also can't help but photograph the "Countdown to Summer" calendar hanging on one of the walls, Mahin said.
And things are looking up — the days left are now in double digits.