Earlier than its tenure as Bottled Blonde — the much-maligned sports activities bar and membership that closed last year — the house on Wells Road the place the alleged restaurant stood held a robust eating status in River North. Boka Restaurant Group co-founders Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz lovingly speak about Hudson Membership, a brasserie and bar that opened in 1996 earlier than giving strategy to SushiSamba, the fusion restaurant that closed in 2014.
Katz and Boehm say Hudson Membership, with its bustling ambiance, was the kind of restaurant they have been envious of as inexperienced restaurant house owners: “Again within the day, [Boehm] and I might stroll into the Hudson house as inexperienced restaurateurs and say ‘wow, that is superb,” Katz says.
The pair need to restore the house to that glory with a French restaurant — a “massive, approachable, enjoyable brasserie” known as Le Choose. The restaurant — ticketed for a mid- to late-summer debut — may have a big-name chef in cost: Boka has lured Chicago-area native Daniel Rose again residence. Rose is the chef at Michelin-starred Le Coucou in New York, the 2017 James Beard Award winner for Finest New Restaurant in America. Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton awarded Le Coucou a three-star review in 2016, praising it for its conventional sensibilities and the best way it impressed “New Yorkers with a number of of the ignored culinary wonders of yesteryear.”
Rose moved from Paris in 2015 to open Le Coucou. He made a reputation for himself in France the place he opened Spring, an intimate nice eating restaurant that closed after a 10-year run. Katz and Boehm say they’ve lengthy admired Rose’s work and have recognized him for years. Rose, who’s from Wilmette, nonetheless has household within the space and Boka managed to carry him residence: “Daniel is nearly as good as anybody there’s within the realm of meals and cooking,” Katz says.
Rose wasn’t obtainable for an interview — a rep says he’s proper now specializing in getting Le Coucou again on its toes; it reopened final month for the primary time since the start of the pandemic. He nonetheless has two eating places in France. Earlier than opening Le Coucou, he mulled opening a Chicago restaurant, however then he partnered with Stephen Starr — the East Coast magnate with eating places in New York and Philadelphia — to open Le Coucou.
For Boka, an award-winning restaurant group that runs Lady & the Goat areas in Chicago and LA with celeb chef Stephanie Izard, that is its first French restaurant. For Chicago, that is the second high-profile French restaurant introduced for River North inside per week. Le Bouchon’s house owners have plans to open Obélix in January. Boehm says Boka has wished to open a French restaurant for years, and factors out that outdoors of Chicago that the delicacies continues to be well-liked and that after Le Coucou’s Beard Award win in 2017, Frenchette in New York took residence the identical honor in 2019.
Boka isn’t prepared to speak about Le Choose’s menu, however Katz lauds Rose’s creativity as a “free thinker” who pays consideration to element. Whereas diners might establish similarities between Le Coucou and Le Choose, the workforce is striving for a novel identification in Chicago. Boka has already met with native residents and Ald. (forty second Ward) Brendan Reilly and say all events are keen to clean their hands of the space’s previous tenant. Boehm says they’re completely happy to welcome a “world-class restaurant” to the neighborhood. Boka has plans to fill the 12,000-square-foot house with an lively vibe. An extra 2,000 sq. toes shall be devoted to non-public occasions.
Katz is assured that the restaurant business will rebound in 2022 from the challenges of the pandemic. That is the second main announcement for Boka up to now three weeks. In November, the group introduced plans for a trio of restaurants in Lakeview.
Le Choose, 504 N. Wells Road, deliberate for a mid- to late-summer opening.