John Manion has been dropping hints to Eater for weeks that he would be doing something akin to his pop-up a few months ago and now he confirms that he's taking over the Dodo restaurant space in Fulton Market. Once permits are in place, Dodo will shutter for a complete gut rehab and in its place will emerge La Sirena Clandestina, a restaurant of the same name (meaning the hidden mermaid) and similar concept as his pop-up.
Manion has partnered up with current Dodo owner Kim Dalton (in a minority role), who will continue to run her breakfast and lunch business until the team gets the necessary permits to start construction, likely in mid-February. Then Manion, along with designer Brian Willette (Old Town Social), will take sledgehammer to wall and give it a total gut rehab and hopefully open La Sirena sometime in April across the street from Next and the Aviary.
The restaurant will have around 68 seats, including those at the bar, and will have a "Latin local" vibe, Manion said. Latin local? "When I was a kid I lived in Brazil for about five years and have spent a lot of time in South America, but I'm a Chicago guy," Manion said. "This is going to be a Chicago restaurant, but Brazil informs how I cook and what I like so those flavors will be there. [I'm also] pulling from Argentina and Uruguay.
Like the pop-up, some dishes will be more refined while others will have a "street food" aesthetic. The restaurant will serve its regular menu for lunch and dinner, but will have a bar menu between the two meal services as well as after 10:30 p.m. Manion said the regular menu will have items including gulf prawn 'baihano' with fresh heart of palm, chile-coconut reduction and green risotto; ham and cheese and egg yolk empanadas; grilled tri-tip with charred ramp chimichurri and reggiano frites; skewered half rabbit with pickled chile and baby carrot salad; and grilled spiny lobster tail with a miso malagueta butter.
The bar menu, served between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and after 10:30 until 1:30 a.m. will be more quick service items at a much lower price point. Expect dishes like bacalao fritters; a variety of baked empanadas that will change daily; grilled chicken hearts; chouripan (homemade sausage with chimichurri); and acaraje (black-eyed pea fritters) with malagueta hot sauce. Manion said he's doing the bar menu with the area industry folks in mind, saying there aren't many less expensive late-night options in the area.
Where the design is concerned, Willette said they're gaining inspiration from the Brazilian European-influenced beach town of Buzios, where Brigitte Bardot famously traveled in 1964, crossed with a bohemian sophistication found at places like the Ace Hotel in New York and Portland, Ore., and Brooklyn's Cafe Moto. He said the space will have big warehouse windows, warm wood treatments and unexpected lighting. "The vibe will be lively and fun, while staying approachable and sexy," Willette said. Manion added that La Sirena, which will be a more open space than Dodo is currently, will have a polished DIY aesthetic. "I want this place to look like a million bucks ... but on a budget," he said.
· John Manion Hosting 2-Day Pop-Up Brazilian Dinner at Dodo [~EChi~]