Well-respected Chicago Chef Erick Williams announced the arrival of his restaurant, Virtue, now open in Hyde Park. Located at 1462 E 53rd Street at the intersection of S. Harper Avenue in the heart of the bustling Hyde Park neighborhood, Virtue is an American southern restaurant that leads with a culture of hospitality. Williams, formerly the Executive Chef of celebrated restaurant MK, and partner of Michelin-rated County barbeque is at the core of this exciting concept. Chef is focused on creating an atmosphere balanced by a menu inspired through the lens of values and virtues his family and faith instilled in him from a very young age.
“Virtue is my opportunity to share my story and the way that food resonates with the values and virtues that have helped to shape my life,” says Williams. “As a concept, I want Virtue to recognize my ancestors’ struggles and commitment to freedom and especially their spirit of hope. Without their faith, I would not have a place to explore or follow my ambitions and for that I am forever grateful.”
Williams is ready to take on this new venture, bringing a new concept to life through melding his background in fine dining with his passion for southern culture, providing the community of Hyde Park with a new staple. With extensive culinary expertise, his first solo venture is sure to make its mark on the city – and the nation. Alongside Williams in the restaurant is business partner and former General Manager and Wine Director of MK, Jesus Garcia. With immense success in the industry, Garcia is well-suited to lead at the highest level overseeing the operations and beverage program at Virtue.
The entire concept of Virtue centers around a culture of hospitality with an incredible amount of detail chosen to showcase American southern flavors and highlight Williams’ respect of his upbringing. Deeply rooted thoughtfulness is placed in food drawing from the ingredient base of the south, taking a layered approach to give diners an authentic home-cooked experience while creatively paying homage to the complexity of southern culture. Williams and his team aim to win diners’ trust with tastes they are accustomed to while also appealing to their sophistication by introducing heritage techniques building respect towards southern culture through his dishes. These practices yield bold versions of traditional flavors, while introducing diners to new culinary stories and adventures tied to the traditions of the south.
The restaurant evokes the warmth of Williams’ great grandmother’s home from the warm lighting and woven patterns to the china plating and meaningful artwork on the walls. An unbelievable amount of honesty, kindness and love fills the space and provides guests the chance to be noticed, mattered and valued. The Virtue team places attention to detail in service, timing and most importantly how to make people feel great. Williams has prioritized cooking with dignity, while honoring the stories of his ancestors through sharing his intricate recipes in a space that is centered around the diner.
The menu is a culmination of family recipes, traditional southern cooking and Williams’ own interpretation of famous dishes of the south. Guests can expect a range of portions sizes, with large entrees and small sides named ‘rations’ on the menu. Small bites including Biscuits with homemade butter and pimento cheese, Gumbo, Gizzards and Mustard Greens will be available. Airing on the side of grander portions, Pork Chops, Beef Short Ribs, Roast Half Chicken and Catfish blackened with Carolina gold rice and barbeque carrots will be available. Guests can expect Williams’ versions of favorites like Mac and Cheese and Lima Beans as savory sides.
Cocktails showcase a menu with categories including “Light” “Strong” and “Alcohol Free”, emitting a nostalgic sense of home. The Weekend at Nana’s features gin, lemon, rosemary and orange bitters as a light option alongside the strength of Patience is a Virtue bringing together Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac, Averna, pear liqueur and barrel-aged bitters. The smooth sounds of Duke of Earl will take earl grey tea, star anise, lemon and egg white together for a nod of southern hospitality.
Virtue will be open for dinner with a bar menu, brunch, as well as lunch launching soon with service offered five days a week.