WICKER PARK — Get ready for Chef Michael Taus' next chapter, reflecting a passion for food and family roots, along Wicker Park's Division Street.
Set to open at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the former Prasino spot, 1846 W. Division St., Taus Authentic offers a 100-seat dining room as well as a 50-seat lounge with a bar, two fireplaces, comfy couches and chairs.
Taus Authentic's menu is divided into raw seafood and tartare, appetizers, entrees, and desserts, all made from scratch, including the bread rolls.
Prices will range between $18 and $38. Most entrees — such as double fried chicken with jalapeno cornbread and green beans — will be large enough to share among two people, Taus said.
Taus said the fried chicken, based off of his aunt's recipe, is "the juiciest."
"I'm also loving the raw scallops with poached egg on top," Taus added.
(l.) Taus and Sous Chef Josh Del Valle, formerly with Prune in New York.
Taus Authentic's dining room will be for reservation seating only, except for two community tables made from reclaimed wood running down the center of the room.
Taus said he is saving the 20 seats at the community tables for neighbors who might decide to pop in on a whim, so they know they are welcome too, even without reservations.
Though the restaurant will close at 11 p.m. daily, Taus said he might extend hours until 1 a.m., — perhaps after the first week — to test out a late night menu with Ramen, charcuterie and a breakfast dish with garlic rice and sausage that is inspired by the Philippines, where his wife is from.
Taus hopes that the bar and lounge area, offering 14 craft beers and 100 wines, will become a regular hangout for business people, singles and anyone that want to come by for a drink after a long day's work.
At the helm of a staff of 37, Taus plans to cultivate a community of repeat customers inside the 6,000 square-foot space, which also has a large sidewalk cafe.
"Our profession is the best because we get to touch so many lives. I am so thankful when people want to come back. A lot of young chefs forget customers are your business and it's not about the one visit, it's about the 10 visits," Taus said.
The 47-year-old Taus started his career 26 years ago, working under Chef Charlie Trotter. In 1993, he opened Zealous, a popular upscale restaurant that closed in 2012.
Oyster Yuzu with pickled shallot and mignonette sauce, 3 pieces for $10.
Diver Scallop with Warm Truffle Vinaigrette, Poached Egg and Green Apple, $13.
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