When out to dinner and given the option, we prefer to have the chef just serve us whatever is looking good that night. Who better than the chef to know what’s good, right? Now, sometimes the chef is just too busy to bother with customers, but if you’ve ever been to Heaven on Seven, you know chef/owner Jimmy Bannos thrives on interactions with diners, wants to know what they like and tries his best to give them what he believes will make them very happy.
Heaven on Seven has been in business since 1985, but it’s been open for dinner for just a little over a year. For a moderately sized restaurant, the menu is relatively large. We were scrutinizing the menu, as well as the chalkboard with another two dozen or so items, when chef Jimmy Bannos came over to our table. Perhaps detecting our uncertainty about what to order, he offered, “I can just bring you some things to eat.”
That sounded good to us.
According to Andrew Bannos, Jimmy’s nephew and general manager, “At our Naperville location, we’ve been offering an option called ‘Jimmy, Feed Me’ for some time now. We started offering the same thing at our Chicago location when we started dinner service one year ago last Valentine’s Day. We don’t really advertise it, though.”
They should advertise it, though, because “Jimmy, Feed Me” is a high-value option. For forty dollars, you get six small-to-medium courses and dessert. Clean plates and silverware are laid down between each tasting portion.
If you’re dining as a couple, Bannos usually gives you two portions of the same item but, he adds, “If you’ve been in before, I try to give you each different things for each course, so you can try more.”
And sampling more tastes, without eating a stupid amount of food, is why we prefer the “Jimmy, Feed Me” option. I can pound through a plate of gumbo at Heaven on Seven, a big steak at Chicago Cut or most of a pizza at Forno Rosso—all delicious stuff—but about halfway through even the best regular serving, the thrill, if not gone, is somewhat diminished with every bite after the first. With the “Jimmy, Feed Me” option, it’s a whole meal of first bites.
We had little corn cakes topped with cheese, an andouille sausage draped with onions and served on sweet-potato polenta, shrimp and grits, a miniaturized selection of greatest hits like collards and red beans and rice, hot chicken, and a few other small, scrumptious things.
“I change it up all the time,” says Chef Bannos, and that’s another reason why I like going with “Jimmy, Feed Me”: it’s always different and not likely to be boring.
Given the choice, we’re glad to have the chef make all the tough choices. (David Hammond)
Heaven on Seven, 111 North Wabash, 7th floor, heavenonseven.com.
Dining and Drinking Editor for Newcity, David also writes a weekly food column for Wednesday Journal in Oak Park and is a frequent contributor of food/drink and travel pieces to the Chicago Tribune, Plate Magazine and other publications. David has also contributed chapters to several books, including Street Food Around the World, Street Food, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org