After two-and-a-half years of planning, designing, menu development and construction, the Boka Restaurant Group has put the finishing touches on their largest and most expensive restaurant to date. Swift & Sons, their massive, opulent, throwback steakhouse partnership with the Bristol guys in a former cold storage meatpacking facility that's now the Google Building at 1000 W. Fulton Market, will open to the public on October 18. Reservations are now available on Open Table.
If you look back on the construction photos from nearly a month ago and then gaze upon the photos above, you'll realize that a lot of design work has been implemented since that time. All the seating, fixtures, art and decoration is in, turning what was once a "barren concrete box" into "what a futuristic office would look like for Gustavus Swift."
The revolving doors on the corner of Fulton and Morgan Streets lead to the front lobby with a concierge. Beyond that lies the "tavern" with a bi-level bar. Two dining rooms are upstairs under the arched ceilings and sturdy concrete beams that are left over from the meatpacking facility. Multiple private dining rooms with separate entrances, bars and patios are beyond that. The seafood restaurant-within-a-restaurant is not pictured.
Acclaimed New York design firm AvroKo, who also designed momotaro, implemented sophisticated steakhouse-worthy furniture and decor, with plush booths, woodwork, a wine room, intricate tiling and lots of brass. Yet they also added Midwestern farm-themed touches such as a long mural of a farm, framed photos of cows and other farm scenes, and clocks showing the time at other Midwestern farming locales.
Executive chef Chris Pandel (Bristol, Balena) designed the steakhouse menu that Boka partners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz said would have entree and steak selections reminiscent of other steakhouses, more creative appetizers, and a slightly lower price point than other steakhouses. The finished opening menu includes celery root agnolotti ($15), chilled salmon tartare ($15), "lobster a la nage" ($52), and ricotta dumplings ($14), in addition to classic steakhouse dishes including crab cakes, raw shellfish bar items, and of course steak and boutique beef selections ranging from a $28 steak frites to a $105 36-ounce long-bone dry-aged rib chop. Read the full menu below, which also includes the cocktails, wine and beer.
Like many Boka Group restaurants, Katz and Boehm say they're trying to eschew trends in hopes that Swift & Sons stands the test of time. "It should be timeless," Katz said. "We're not trying to build the restaurant that has the white-hot spotlight on it. We're trying to build a restaurant that will be successful and healthy for 10 or 15 years."
As the poster child for the Google restaurant boom in the area, and one of Chicago's top restaurant group's largest and most expensive restaurant yet, Swift & Sons will have the white-hot spotlight on it regardless—but it should also have a long run beginning with the opening in three days. Giddyup.