Chicago >Food & Dining > Zealous
419 W Superior St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061041.895464 -87.639437
Neighborhoods: Central, Near North Side
Michael Taus - The Most Arrogant Restaurant Owner I've Ever Met – My wife & I live in River North & eat out literally every night. We've have been to well over 200 different Chicago restaurants over the last year, & our worst expereince - hands down - was at Zealous. All started OK when we arrived & were seated on time; however, that's when the issues began. While the restaurant wasn't particularly busy, the services was incredibly slow. After 10 minutes the very hectic, flustered waiter took our drink orders. Upon delivering them, he took off and wasn't seen again for another 15-20 min. (literally... we were timing it because it was so surprising). After placing appetizer orders and finishing our drinks we waited for another 20 min before I finally went & asked the hostess if I could speak to the manager to see if he could help get our waiter some assistance. The owner came out to our table & instead of graciously offering to do what he could to help us, he instead explained that their service was appropriate, & instead said it was our fault that we did not place our entire order when the waiter first came to our table. I was incredibly surprised the owner of the restaurant basically blamed me for our bad experience. I asked him if it was "normal" for patrons to wait almost 1 hr (~50 min) to place their orders & without hesitation he responeded it was due to our failure to order all up front. After explaining no one explained that was how we were supposed to order, it was apparent he had no patience nor interest in trying to "make things right". I was surprised by his response & we decided that instead of paying for overpriced food with completely inattentive service all from an incredibly arrogant owner, we left. The owner asked for my contact info so he could contact me later to invite us back for a better experience. However, after giving him my card - it's now been 3 months & i've seen or heard nothing. We are much happier spending our time and money at the other great River North restaurants instead of this one.
On its way out? – We had an unusual experience at this restaurant, which I haven't hesitated to share with many others as it was strange. Friday night and you'd expect a line out the door, however when we arrived in the cab the first thing we noticed was that the place was nearly empty. The maǐtre d' was courteous and had no problem with our having a drink even though we were at our reservation time. Soon, however, the chef came out and I heard him exclaim to the bartender "What are they rock stars?" (in reference to our taking our time) loud enough to make sure we'd hear. Trouble is - the chef, I soon learned, is also the owner. Ugh - bad start.
Suddenly, the maǐtre d' appeared from the dining room asking us to take our seats as the kitchen was 'closing' - um, okay it's 8:45pm on FRIDAY night! I guess they weren't expecting any drop ins (does everyone else know what we don't, I am thinking). While our waiter was definitely a charmer, the evil and unhappy bus person (a woman with bad hair dye) was not - adding to the discomfort level.
Fast forward - post meal (the food was actually pretty good by the way - a little on the minimalist early 90s side though) and the chef/owner is pacing around in the background... nearly the whole staff has left and Miss Unhappy Busperson (she was young - she'll learn) is lingering near the coat check with a grimace on her face that'd make Satan nervous.
I guess the chef/owner realizes he is seeing diminishing returns and would rather be out of there than please the few customers he has left. Perhaps this restaurant is on the way out and we will be one of the last few customers in there... for the price ($$$$) you'd expect a whole lot better attitude. Sayonara Zealous.
Creative palate pleasing food and wine combinations. – Chef Michael Taus is a reliable crowd pleaser when it comes to this beautiful venue for creative global cuisine. Wheather it is a perfectly seared steak, fresh seafood in a red curry sauce, or a creative vegetarian offering you can be certain that your taste buds will be pleased. Most importantly when it comes to the wine enthusiasts, you can choose from a large inventory of hard to get wines. Try the 5 or 7 course chef's tasting menus with wine pairings. I've had this many times and my guests are always awe struck at the perfect wine pairings for the courses. End the evening with one of the chefs incredible desserts. Do all of this in a very understated zen like atmosphere that mixes modernity with comfort and style.
So not Saltaus – They should have stopped with Zealous. The best is the best. Great bar, drinks, food,etc.... The host was a little affected for his own good.
Enjoyable – We celebrated our anniversary at Zealous and enjoyed our meal tremendously. I'm a vegetarian (though not vegan) and my husband is not. We were each able to enjoy a 5-course meal with wine. It's very rare that I can have a gourmet meal without limiting my order to appetizers, salads or side dishes, so I felt well cared for! We had a fairly private table next to a partition, and even though there was a large, corporate-looking group eating at the same time, we never had a problem hearing each other or feeling disturbed by other diners. The wine list was extensive. The chef came out to speak to us a couple of times, and prepared a special "happy anniversary" plate for us.
Hidden Gem w/ beautiful interior, great staff! – I came hear for a celebration and had never heard of it and walked away really impressed. In this city where there are a lot of really overpriced restaurants trying way too hard, this one was a gem. It has a calming ultra-Zen like interior. The chef came out and joined us and talked us through the menu, the waiter was very patient and knowledgeable.
The food was very creative, not too large of portions, great wine list with a cellar that is viewable. In a quiet River North neighborhood that is great to walk around afterwards. I think this a great call for anybody from a romantic night to a large group.
Worst service ever – My party of 10 arrived on Saturday and waited 45 minutes for a drink -service went downhill from there. I can't say I blame our waiter -the timing seemed off from beginning to end -cold entrees - long waits for everything -when I complained to the general manager, I was told that the fault was the tables -arriving on time and asking for the bill to be divided. The Chef/Owner ended up paying for our meals but was insulting when I tried to offer thanks. There are many wonderful places to eat in Chicago -I can't imagine ever going back to this place.
Dr. – The food at Zealous is FANTASTIC! By far, the chef is one of the most creative in Chicago. My husband and I are vegetarian, but we enjoy seasoned, flavorful food. Michael has exceeded our expectations!
Creative, global fine dining in a contemporary River North setting draws a stylish corporate crowd. – The Scene
Zealous gets serious style points for its dining room, an industrial space with high ceilings and exposed brick walls softened by rich eggplant and olive upholstery, hardwood floors and comfortable lighting. Low partitions divide the room into several intimate areas, while a private dining table hides behind tall bamboo plants in the middle of the floor. Snazzily attired in designer suits, servers offer impeccable service.
Chef and owner Michael Taus' global menu is ambitious and inventive, with intricate, artfully presented plates. Some dishes are clever and winning (sweetbread club sandwich with apple smoked bacon; moist, perfectly flaky sea bass crusted with sesame seeds); others are less reliable (overcooked skate wing atop mushy corn cannelloni; bland, rice-heavy tuna maki roll). Desserts are stellar, though, from delicate mascarpone cheesecake with currant jam to banana tiramisu drizzled with caramel sauce.
Excellent – Just got back from having the five course dinner there with my mom and my sister. Having just eaten at Trio, I think its interesting to compare the two. Overall, the food at Trio is more attractive, unusual, and refined, but much less flavourful. Furthermore, dinner at Zealous costs less, and you get more food. We're all very full and very happy and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place. My one caveat is that some of the vegetarian dishes are a lackluster, especially in comparison to the spectacular meat dishes. The filet with oxtail ravioli was amazing, and a dish of a single large scallop on poi and pineapple was one of the best things I've eaten in a long time.
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