Last night, Alpana Singh opened the doors to the Boarding House for a slew of local media types for a sneak peek at the four-floor space set to open in late October. The wine bar-lounge-restaurant could be one of the more exciting and ambitious projects to open this fall as Singh and her partners, John Ward and Matt Fisher (who own Bistronomic) set to open a place unlike anything else in the city.
As Singh addressed the group and introduced her staff, which includes chef Christian Gosselin (Sofitel), sous chef Bjorn Rasmussen (Balsan), "bar chef" Tony Potempa (Roof) and GM Matt Sheridan, she talked about wanting to create a space where people could feel at home. They're even bringing back the idea of a true Maitre d, who would be Sheridan.
As previously reported, Gosselin will have a menu of smaller plates ($6 to $12), medium plates ($12 to $18) and entrees ($22 to $30) with dishes like lobster poutine with a sauce Armoricaine and shredded duck confit hash with red-wine-poached eggs.
The restaurant will have two separate kitchens. One will be on the second floor to serve the private dining room on that level and the main dining room on the third floor. That space, with its incredibly high, beamed ceilings and stunningly tall windows, also has a mezzanine overlooking the dining room; that will be used for special dinners like anniversaries and such.
The main floor will serve as a casual bar where 1800 wine glasses will hang overhead as a chandelier and bar stools will be made from old wine barrels. Here, guests will snack on poutine, charcuterie, cheese, pizzas and more, while sipping craft cocktails (like last night's tasty red wine margarita) and sip on wine from a 300-plus-bottle list curated by Singh herself. They'll install a large chalkboard that will feature wine specials that Singh plans to circulate via Twitter.
One of the cooler features will be the lower-level wine lounge (which has the other kitchen), where Singh says she hopes 30- and 40-somethings will want to come for late-night bottles of great wine. The lounge, which has carved out booth seating below the sidewalk, will also serve as the restaurant's wine cellar and they're installing a glass-enclosed wine elevator to carry the bottles up to the other floors. Singh said there will be a large portion of the wine list priced under $75, but will also have older vintages and large-format bottles from Burgundy, Bordeaux and the like that could be priced as high as $1,000. She said they'll rotate the wines-by-the-glass list often and will even pour Dom Perignon by the glass.
Singh said they're aiming to open the first-floor bar and lower-level lounge first toward the end of October. The restaurant will open shortly after that, likely by mid-November. As for brunch, they're still figuring out whether they're going to offer that at all. In the meantime, if you want to see more of the construction process, check out this slideshow over at Grub Street.
· 24 of Chicago's Most Anticipated Fall Restaurants [~EChi~]
· Alpana Singh Taps Christian Gosselin as Exec Chef for the Boarding House [~EChi~]
· See the Space That Will Become Alpana Singh's Boarding House [Grub Street]
Alpana Singh and Christian Gosselin [Photo: Sky Full of Bacon/Grub Street]