Last November, Dale Levitski revealed his plans to open Frog N Snail, a casual and approachable midwestern bistro with French and Eastern European influences. Now the Sprout chef gave Eater more information about his new restaurant's menu and gave us a sneak peek at the Lakeview space, which is currently in the process of undergoing a rehab of the former Sura Thai restaurant. Frog n snail is pretty far along and Levitski is aiming to open in late March or early April.
Frog N Snail won't just be a bistro, but also a coffee lounge during the day. Levitski has built a coffee bar in the middle of the restaurant to serve La Colombe coffee while people enjoy pastries (cakes, tarts), skorpa (a Swedish bread his grandmother used to make) and crepes, which will be made on a crepe wheel at the coffee bar and finished in the kitchen with various ingredients. The crepes will be made from different ingredients like pistachio, buckwheat and chickpea.
The cafe, which will be open from 9 a.m. to around 4 p.m., will offer table service; they won't have a walk-up counter or to-go options (for that you can hit Intelligentsia or Argo Tea across the street). But they will have plenty of places for people to plug in and work on their computers, especially at the 12-person communal table adjacent to the coffee bar. But don't expect to work through dinner service; the Wi-Fi will be turned off at 5 p.m. "Dinner is dinner," Levitski said. "I want it to flip over. I don't want laptops at dinner."
But you can work through lunch, which will have a separate menu offered between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. That menu will have things like a ratatouille-inspired green tomato burger with aioli, different sandwiches and entrees. Levitski said he may bring over Sprout's croque monsieur and is thinking about doing playful combos called Rock, Paper, Salad where you choose three items.
Dinner will expand with bay scallop ragout with peas, carrot puree and passatelli (pasta made from bread crumbs); brandade fish stix with San Marzano dip; seared New York strip tartare served with whipped truffled egg white on toast; beef stroganoff made of braised short rib that's topped with petite filet au poivre; a chicken kiev with spring vegetable succotash; and French press bouillabaisse done with a traditional saffron sauce with fish and shellfish with a broth that's tea-infused and poured tableside. And overseeing the food service? Levitski's sous chef at Sprout, Sara Nguyen, will likely move over and take on the exec sous chef role at Frog N Snail.
For the design, think warm and inviting with a vibe that evokes calming water through natural colors (brows, greens, grays, blacks), natural woods and various stone. Levitski said the texture and surfaces will serve as the artwork in the space, save a number of smaller frog and snail statues placed throughout and two framed lotus leaves that will sit in recessed light boxes. The restaurant's glass facade features a door that will eventually open onto a sidewalk patio and Levitski likens the approximately 80-seat space to having a few distinct personalities as you move from the front to the back.
The front bar area has four high-top tables made of blonde stained hickory that jut out from a textured black/green slate that looks like falling water. Behind the bar is a gorgeous custom made reclaimed wood back bar while exposed Edison pendants hang over the walnut-topped bar. The coffee bar is the next "section" where a sliding blackboard door across from the bar will feature specials and a French press coffee of the month.
The dining room features handmade blonde hickory tables; booths in the middle of the space separated by a mid-high wall; a large U-shaped booth in the back set against a black slate wall; banquettes on the north wall; pebble-looking cork and formica wallpaper that changes color as light hits it from different angles; and various types of wood panels throughout. Terrazzo tiles grace the floors while light-colored fabric-covered panels hang from the ceiling not only as a design element but to help mute sound throughout. The entire space, which features all square edges, was inspired by Scandinavian design, Levitski said.
Frog N Snail will be open seven days a week with the coffee bar operating starting at 9 a.m., lunch going from 11 to 3 and dinner from 5 to 10. And following a trend, the restaurant won't take reservations (save for two to three parties of six or more). So maybe one way to easily snag a table at dinner is to stow that laptop at 5 and simply ask for the dinner menu.
· Dale Levitski Opening French-American Bistro [~EChi~]