The countdown toward Band of Bohemia's opening continues, as the restaurant is set to open on Thursday. There's been a lot of attention surrounding how the in-house beer will dictate the food menu. But it's not all about the brews, as earlier this month, the restaurant announced a third Alinea alum, Tom Santelle, would helm the coffee and tea program. There's plans to offer grab and go coffees, capitalizing on the proximity to the Ravenswood Metra station.
Band of Bohemia's co-founders Michael Carroll and Craig Sindelar also met while working at Grant Achatz's acclaimed Lincoln Park restaurant. Santelle said he's never seen beverages used to compliment food the way he saw while working on Alinea's beverage program. Typically drinks are used to offset and clean palettes, and Santelle wants the Dark Matter coffees and Spirit teas he'll brew to do more than that.
"Coffee is more than a lot of places give it credit for," Santelle said, seeing ways restaurants can better utilize non-alcoholic beverages. "I've always wanted to see it happen, growing up in beverage-pairing restaurants, places that put so much emphasis on palettes, it really does give me hope."
Band of Bohemia has been somewhat guarded about how their menu will look, but customers will soon see how drinks and food are integrated. Carroll said the menu —curated by executive chef Matt DuBois and chef de cuisine Kevin McMullen— will center around five beers. There's also cocktails handled by Carlos Matias (Acadia)
"You can't really explain the concept until you go to it," Carroll said. "And hopefully once that happens, we open, and enough people show up then at that point it feels like 'oh it's this.'"
DuBois admits they've struggled in describing the menu, but their focus is bookended by the cost of beer, which also restricts how much they can spend on food ingredients.
"There's a very specific price point for our beers, for the format what we're trying to do," DuBois said. "There's a focus, but it's hard to put into words, we've struggled with it: Globally influenced, modernist, American? But there's definite parameters. You'll see it, when you get your beer, you'll see it."