Now that he legally has the right to once again use his BLT name, renowned chef Laurent Tourondel is bringing it to Chicago. Following a bitter divorce from business partner Jimmy Haber, Tourondel announced in June he would open BLT American Brasserie in New York and he's now planning to open a second outlet in Chicago, and the Manhattan space hasn't even opened.
BLT American Brasserie will take over the long-shuttered Brasserie Ruhlmann space (Tourondel is a partner in Ruhlmann's New York outpost) just off Chicago Avenue near the Chicago River. Tourondel hopes to open it in the late fall with the same menu as New York. "It's basically an American brasserie with some mini pizzas, sushi, grilling, a lot of meats, a little for everyone," Tourondel said. "It's very simple food, but on the creative side."
Tourondel said the "huge menu," which is currently a work in progress, will have nine types of pizza, about nine different sushi rolls, a section with appetizers and salads; another with sandwiches and burgers; entrees and a raw bar. Prices will run the gamut with pizzas and sushi around $12, appetizers going as high as $18 and entrees falling between $24 and $35. At this time, he has not found a chef to run the kitchen.
As for the restaurant, Tourondel said he likes the space and location and, in fact, isn't planning on changing that much to the interior. "I think the space is great the way it is. We plan to keep it looking the same way for now," he said. However, he added that they'll try to cut down on some of the dining area to create a lounge and will make the bar more "friendly."
While some details seem to need ironing out, Tourondel is looking forward to opening in Chicago. "Chicago has a big restaurant scene and I've been eating around," he said. "I'm not trying to compete with someone. I'm not trying to make statement. I have an opportunity to have a good restaurant."
· Laurent Tourondel Wins BLT Trademark After Split [~ENY~]
Laurent Tourondel [Photo: Esquire]