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Chicago: Butter
130 S. Green St.; 312-666-9813

Chicago is still the capital of red meat, deep-dish pizza, and Italian beef sandwiches. But the city has also become the new hub of experimental cooking.

With its airy bi-level space, sexy vibe and good-looking chef, Butter could get by on style alone. Ryan Poli, however, is a chef of great substance—dreaming up such irresistible modern notions as beet salad with blue cheese and beet syrup, and cod poached in olive oil accompanied by fennel puree and a saffron emulsion. Dinner for two, $140; closed Sunday.