If the news that Paul Virant would take over the kitchen at Perennial after Ryan Poli announced he was leaving was a shocker, just wait until you see the restaurant's fresh new design. When the space re-opens as Perennial Virant in mid-May, fans of the former digs won't recognize the place.
The entire space has been gutted and is in the process of undergoing a major rehab. The dining room has been ripped out, removing any traces of the former nautical vibe. The birch trees are gone. The ceiling has been taken out. And the bar has been stripped. In its place an entirely new restaurant with a palette of soft neutral colors like greens, tans, blacks and whites will emerge.
Perennial Virant will have about 90 seats, including a communal table for eight in the bar. The dining room will have four settees along the west windows and south walls for more of a lounge-y vibe. Two king's tables will sit in the north part of the dining room atop a custom tile floor. Large back-to-back banquettes with 10 seats on each side will grace the middle of the main dining area and have a high-backed ledge to display small art pieces.
The bar, which will be topped and fronted with honed concrete, will gain four feet on the end to accommodate better service. A trellis made of white oak stained with various colors will hang from the dining room ceiling and the floors will feature bleached walnut hardwood. Sheer fabric will cover the windows and black venetian plaster columns will pop from the walls given a white leathery feel.
The lounge off the bar will lose a bit of space as an elevator is being installed to take guests up to the roof deck of the adjoining soon-to-open hotel. That room will have custom sofas, captain's chairs, carpeting and mirrors to give it a luxe vibe. And the wall that was once between the lounge and bar was removed, allowing for a direct view through the restaurant and out the windows into Lincoln Park across the street.
As for the food, Virant has created a menu broken up into two sides: a three-course prix-fixe menu dubbed the PV3, which will be served every night for just $35; if guests want to choose their own meal, the menu will feature about 15 sharable plates ranging from $8 to $27.
Some things to watch out for include smoked Dietzler Farm beef ribs with garlic mustard and chimichurri sauce; cream of Klug Farm asparagus soup with preserved meyer lemon and brown butter; and confit of Slagel Family Farm pork shoulder with arugula and spring vegetable giardiniera
And Virant will capitalize on his location directly across from the Green City Market. "No one exemplifies farm to table more than Paul Virant," said Boka Restaurant Group co-partner Rob Katz. "He has the best relationships with farmers in the entire city."