While Graham Elliot (the restaurant) focuses on the artistry of food, Graham Elliot (the chef and restaurateur) will look to the craft of food for his forthcoming restaurant, G.E.B. The 60-seat spot, which will likely open in mid-May next to Nellcôte, will have a menu that focuses on the foundation of fundamental techniques and simple ingredients, according to Elliot, who adds that most dishes will have about three ingredients taking from whatever is seasonally available and "doing as little to the food as possible." Elliot said.
Chef Jacob Saben (Graham Elliot, Spring, Herb Farm) will serve as exec chef for the restaurant. Elliot said that some of the historical signature dishes from his River North restaurant, like the Caesar salad or beef stroganoff, may emerge at G.E.B. in different forms.
The menu is shaping up to be pretty straightforward leaning toward seasonality and farm-to-table ingredients. Some examples include roasted beets with olive oil and ricotta; pea soup with ham hocks and mint; farm egg with grilled asparagus and hollandaise; king salmon with fava beans and artichokes; chicken thigh with green garlic and chanterelles; and warm beignets with powdered sugar and gianduja for dessert. And the menu, which will be presented on vintage vinyl cases with records that can be played at the bar, will be affordable. Appetizers will range between $6 and $12 while entrees will be $20 or less.
The bar program will be headed up by Rob Miezio, who will also serve as general manager. Miezio will stock a full bar, but will focus on a large selection of canned beers and wine on tap.
Where the decor is concerned, well, this is where it could get fun. Elliot describes is as a "mix of church and rock club," but in no way is it meant to mock religion. "I'm embracing it and showcasing the fact that cooking, gathering around a table with food and wine, and celebrating life in general are things that go hand in hand."
Walking in the front door past the large red G.E.B. sign flickering in marquee lights, eyes will be drawn toward the stained glass garage door on the back wall that will open onto a 60-seat patio that's shared with Nellcôte and Brendan Sodikoff's forthcoming Pizzeria Cella. A chef's table sits adjacent to the garage door in an old elevator shaft and is backed by more stained glass.
The north wall will hold reclaimed church pews as banquettes set against whitewashed brick lined with dozens of "saint candles" hand-painted with images of famous chefs and rock stars. Across from the banquettes, stainless steel-topped tables sit in rows sectioned off by perforated steel that evoke confessional screens.
The kitchen sits just to the west inside the main dining area and allows diners to peer in through an eye-level opening that spans the entire kitchen. The marble-topped bar at the front of the restaurant features six red vinyl-covered stools. And everything throughout G.E.B. is done in a theme of red, gray and white.
And in a sign that this restaurant's theme seems almost destined, when the team first starting doing demolition work to the space, they uncovered a fresco on the ceiling above where the church pews will sit. What did it show? A handful of cherubs floating in the clouds. Now if that isn't a sign from above ...
· Brendan Sodikoff Planning Pizzeria Cella on Green Street [~EChi~]
[Photo: Don't expect G.E.B. to look anything like this come May.]