The stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile is an icon of style and luxury. From upscale hotels to couture storefronts, tourists and locals alike flock to this area to find the best. However, while there is plenty of prominently displayed quality, the real gems of this street are sometimes hidden in plain sight, waiting for the observant and discerning.
Such is the case with 676 Restaurant. Tucked neatly into the Omni, the dining room is exactly what you would expect to find in a sophisticated hotel. Wingback chairs are framed by wood-paneled walls, and all the appropriate cutlery is perfectly arranged on each table. This is the type of establishment in which you’d expect to find traditional iterations of hotel standards: steak, burgers, and some kind of pasta, perhaps.
Chef Joshua Hasho doesn’t adhere to these expectations. Instead, he brings a straightforward philosophy to his kitchen – keep it local and keep it simple. 676 Restaurant works with area farmers and suppliers to get the freshest ingredients for the menu, a characteristic that is honored in each dish. Chef Hasho harkens back to memories of cooking just-caught fish over the fire during family camping trip and seeks to capture that purity in his own work.
His dishes display not only a respect for the food itself, but a creative spark that results in surprising touches throughout a meal. A creamy corn chowder becomes a highlight when it is poured over a flavorful brie crouton, and tangy pickled greens and BBQ kale give it an unforgettable kick. A summer salad, bright with peaches and honey yogurt vinaigrette, is perfectly accented with purple basil grown in the hotel’s rooftop garden.
Main courses don’t skimp on the atmosphere. Salmon with a subtly seasoned skin arrives under a smoke-filled glass. A lamb dish offers two different cuts to savor: tender lamb chops are paired with lamb belly, which falls apart into heavenly bites. Accompaniments are obviously chosen with care, as mustard green and parsley puree keep the belly from being too rich.
The desserts are presented with playfulness. Squares of lemon pound cake contrast with tiny balls of mango and miniature strawberries, offering just enough sweetness to end the meal on the right note.
It’s always refreshing to find inspired food in unlikely places. Chef Hasho’s take on cuisine and his devotion to local ingredients puts Chicago’s best foot forward to visitors while providing the quality that the local palate demands. Whether from near or far, 676 Restaurant is worth a bite next time you’re on the Magnificent Mile.