Ever wanted to open up your own restaurant? Good news, we know how you can do it on the cheap. If Expat can throw a few tables and chairs on the sidewalk and call it a restaurant, then so can you. Add some flags hanging overheard and voila! Decoration.
In reality, Expat is kind of a genius move by the Element Collective group, the people who own the place. They own Nellcôte and RM Champagne, which are side by side and share the sidewalk on the southwest corner of Randolph and Green. So they decided to put some new yellow tables out front on the Green St. sidewalk, create a small menu, and call it an entirely new restaurant - Expat. Kudos to them.
That means Expat is literally a small patio. There's no inside. Yes, it's below freezing here much of the year, but there's still a stretch in Chicago when you want to eat outside all the time, and Expat can be the cute little spot in the West Loop that fills the need. Just don’t refer to this period as #SummerTimeChi - we probably can’t be friends if you do.
The menu is built around small plates and dishes that are ideal for the warmer months, which makes sense if you’ve paid attention to anything we just said. Come to Expat to sit outside and eat oysters, raw crudo, salad, and a few other light plates. People watching in front of Soho House is also excellent, and that alone can make for a fascinating meal. Boozy snow cones are also a great idea, and since it'll be a nice day 100% of the time you sit at Expat, we suggest you cap things off with an alcohol-infused ice.
Start with a few.
Chopped up ahi tuna with watermelon, avocado, and hearts of palm. The avocado and hearts of palm aren’t that noticeable, but the tuna and watermelon are. Solid crudo.
Little gem, croutons, red wine vinaigrette. Basic and small, but not bad if you want some greens.
A simple soppressata sandwich that has some house butter on it and comes with a bag of UTZ crab chips. It’s a small sandwich, which is fine in this instance, but we’d prefer a little lighter on the butter.
The burrata isn’t anything special, but the trout roe that comes on it is smoky and fantastic and makes this dish a must order for us.
Pick a type of raw vegetable and it literally comes raw shoved in a giant square bowl of ice with spicy ranch and pesto cream sauce. You could order your choice of raw cucumbers, radishes, purple cauliflower, little gem lettuce, or turnips. Or you can say f*ck that because who wants to pay for raw vegetables at a restaurant.
You know you want it. Limoncello and Henny Sidecar versions are available too. A worthy order since you know it'll be nice out if you're sitting here.