Take note, River North Francophiles and gastronomes. Peter Rios of Wicker Park's longtime Alliance Bakery has officially announced plans for Alliance Patisserie, a pastry shop and cafe that focuses on classic French sweets. And it's in a space you might recognize—Graham Elliot's shuttered Grahamwich at 615 N State.
Slated for a late November opening, Rios says Alliance Patisserie's signature will include artisan macarons and seasonally-flavored eclairs, moving away from the recent cupcake and doughnut crazes toward a more sophisticated, European-inspired dessert. But it will also sell Alliance Bakery's version of a cronut.
Rios has had the patisserie idea since 2007, when he made two flavors of macarons at Alliance Bakery. But they didn't sell well enough for him to further explore the concept at that time. "Customers asked about the little hamburger-looking things, and then went right to cupcakes and cookies," he recalls.
As the landscape of cuisine changed in Chicago, Rios noted the uptick in inventive dining options and decided now was the time for his patisserie. He's now betting that an evolved palate of both River North professionals and tourists will make his patisserie a success.
"Ten years ago, a creative chef would have to be in downtown Chicago to have any chance to succeed," Rios says. "These days, people are more educated about food and ingredients, and they expect exciting and new flavors."
Rios, who spent two years studying patisserie at the Ecole Centrale in Paris and held executive pastry chef positions at both the The Sofitel Hotel Chicago and The Hotel Fairmont, will make macarons and eclairs in flavors that include balsamic fig and lemon poppy seed, in addition to sweet and savory croissants. A full espresso bar and Bowtruss coffee will add a cafe vibe to the 20-seat patisserie.
Expect it to be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily beginning in late November.