Now that he's stepping aside to make room for Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark to take over the kitchen at Bonsoiree in August, Shin Thompson is plotting his next move. The Michelin-starred chef will partner with Ryan O'Donnell, who co-owns the Bib Gourmand-rated Gemini Bistro and Rustic House restaurants with chef Jason Paskewitz, to open a modern Asian-American restaurant in the West Loop.
The still-unnamed spot, at 952 W. Lake across from the new Morgan Street Green Line station, aims to open in early 2013. O'Donnell said they signed the lease on the space on Wednesday and started construction today. The 3,000 square-foot, 120-seat restaurant is being designed in partnership by Paul Davis from New York and local designer Ruthie Stebbins; O'Donnell's mother, Beth O'Donnell, who collaborated on the design for Gemini Bistro and Rustic House, will contribute the art for the space.
Davis has lived in Tokyo and will incorporate minimalist Japanese elements into the design. They'll utilize the natural timber columns already in the space, the wood ceiling will be painted a light color and will juxtapose dark wood tables. Thompson said they'll have an open kitchen that will feature four counter seats that will serve as a chef's table where they'll offer a 10-course, $110 tasting menu.
Thompson is still working on the menu, but said it will mostly comprise small ($8 to $15) and medium ($12 to $25) plates. They'll also have a few large format dishes and will use high-grade ingredients in some like Wagyu beef and lobster tails. He said he'll definitely include the popular Bonsoiree scallop motoyaki dish (crab meat with sushi-grade scallop torched and then baked in the shell with ponzu aioli and togorashi) and will also have a shabu-shabu dish, thinly sliced prime ribeye cooked tableside in a pot of a hot sweet soy dashi broth. He said some Bonsoiree favorites may make it on to the new menu as well.
The restaurant will have a full beverage program and O'Donnell and Thompson, who met 12 years ago while at Kendall College, are currently looking for the right beverage director.
While O'Donnell will be working on opening this project, he said he's still very much dedicated to his partnership with Paskewitz, who is reportedly excited for O'Donnell to expand. But now, O'Donnell and Thompson are ready to take things up a notch. "I feel that with the neighborhood spots doing well, we wanted to come down to the West Loop and play with the big boys," O'Donnell said. "We're confident we can come down to the hot part of the city where all the action is."
· Beverly Kim Leaving Aria to Partner With Shin Thompson at Bonsoiree; Will Take Over Kitchen