Ēma, a Mediterranean restaurant showcasing Chef CJ Jacobson’s lighter California style of cooking is now open in River North. The Chicago concept was created by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Founder Rich Melman, Executive Partner Marc Jacobs and Chef/Partners CJ Jacobson, John Chiakulas and Rita Dever.
The core of the menu includes spreads, dips and mezze, Mediterranean small plates meant for sharing. Guests can expect a lighter, more healthful style of cooking that uses local produce, unique spices and ingredients. Signature dishes include Spicy Hummus, English Peas with House Yogurt and Blackberry-Sumac Granita, House-Made Stracciatella, Crispy Broccoli with Black Garlic Dashi Broth, Grilled Octopus with Fried Kale, Fingerlings and Lemon, and Lamb & Beef Kefta Kebabs.
The 140-seat restaurant gives off a light, relaxed and comfortable vibe, with interiors of reclaimed wood, rustic white brick and funky, woven basket fixtures. Ēma also has a 36-seat patio opening late summer.
The beverage program at Ēma was developed by Ryan Arnold, wine director of Lettuce Entertain You and Julian Cox, beverage director of Lettuce Entertain You. The wine list showcases wines from Mediterranean coastlines and islands, in addition to a handful of California producers with an old world style. Highlights include Massaya rose from Lebanon and Terre Di Principe Pallagrello from the coast of Campania. The cocktail list includes seasonal kitchen ingredients like fresh apricots, Aleppo peppers and Mediterranean flavors that parallel Chef CJ Jacobson’s menu like harissa. Cocktails include: Solid as Arrack with Batavia Arrack, El Dorado 12 yr. rum, lemon, bing cherry Cordial and crushed ice, and the Rose and Rosé with red-berry infused Petal & Thorn Vermouth, rose tincture and sparkling rosé.
In addition to the restaurant, Ēma shares its kitchen with Rotisserie Ēma, a quick casual counter. Menu specialties will include chef prepared salads, rotisserie chicken and house-made frozen Greek yogurt. Guests will enter through a separate entrance found on Clark St., to pick up food to-go.