Elements (741 N Wells St, 312-642-6574)
Expect nothing short of art-gallery-caliber dishes at this River North shop. From titanium Japanese bowls to irregularly shaped, hand-formed serving dishes and painted platters, these pieces automatically up your food-presentation ante. Bonus: Nab the artfully designed compostable plates while you’re there; you won’t think twice about putting these out for your guests during a cocktail party.
Genevieve Lethu (900 N Michigan Ave, fourth floor; 312-423-9948)
Even when you manage a trip to France, the hassle involved in buying a load of dishes and crystal and stowing it in your luggage on the flight home precludes you from redoing your kitchen Francophile-style. Not anymore. Goods run the gamut at this French import, from tablecloths and aprons to china, bar carts and vases.
The Hutch (1550 W Olive Ave, 773-506-0406)
This teeny shop around the corner from the owner’s second storefront, Roost, feels about as big as a walk-in pantry. But it packs as many Pyrex pieces, plate sets, saucers and salt-and-pepper shakers as it can accommodate. Plus, you can go next door to stock up on other home goods when you’re over the whole kitchen thing.
Martyn George (1855 W Grand Ave, 312-340-4666)
Of all the professionals who’d have a knack for art directing a shop filled with unusual kitchenware, a food stylist is a solid bet. When she’s not touching up food for close-ups, Johanna Lowe replenishes her small West Town storefront with cocktail-party fodder, kitchen decor (see the plethora of wooden spoons) and enough enamel ware and cast-iron skillets to make you swear off newfangled nonstick pans for good.
P.O.S.H. (613 N State St, 312-280-1602)
Whitewashed cabinets filled to the brim with stacks of restaurant china, drawers are packed with mixmatched vintage silver and vignettes composed of cocktail paraphernalia, coffee pots, candles and Dutch-boy cookie jars allude to entertaining needs for every room in the house. Perusing the selection of apothecary jars, candles and calendars, you can grab a year’s supply of hostess gifts.