Mussels à la Normande ($24) are bathed in white wine with dollops of creme fraiche.
“For a lot of the older bistros and restaurants in France, you do a dish a certain way, and there’s not a lot of room for change,” says A.J. Walker, chef de cuisine at the new Café Cancale. “But these neo bistros aren’t afraid to take influence from Spain or Italy and twist the classic dishes. That’s what we wanted to do.” Walker, who also helmed the kitchen at the space’s previous occupant, Publican Anker, worked closely with One Off Hospitality Executive Chef Paul Kahan to draw inspiration from Kahan’s recent trip to the coastal Cancale. The result? A delightful fresh raw bar alongside charming dishes like whole-grilled lobster ($45), deliciously charred and perfectly spicy thanks to its chile-spiked yuzu kosho butter. Together with the team at One Off—the minds behind dining stalwarts like Blackbird and The Publican—the duo reinvented the former Publican Anker in the span of five weeks, and the handsome new eatery is proof that old-school can still be plenty inspired. 1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773.904.1121