Nearly 26 months to the day since opening her first restaurant—and one day after The Boarding House chef Tanya Baker landed on the James Beard Awards semifinal list—Alpana Singh and partners are throwing open the doors to their highly-anticipated second restaurant.
Seven Lions, at 130 S. Michigan across from the Art Institute, is as billed: a massive, plush, "American clubhouse" with old-school swagger for the downtown set. Mirrors, chandeliers, and velvety booths are the hallmarks of the 299-person-capacity main floor, where the front dining room and large rear bar area are evenly split. Two smaller private rooms reside in the back, seating 29 and 13, while a staircase descends into a large subterranean private dining space, dubbed the "Symphony Room," seating 120 more.
Chef Chris Curren (Blue 13, The Fifty/50 Group) is executing lunch, brunch and dinner menus filled with twists on American classics. Singh highlights the lamb ribs, salt cod brandade, wild boar chop, jalapeno cheddar bread on Parker House rolls, an apple walnut salad that twists a Waldorf, the Seven Lions cheeseburger, chicken and duck club, and fried chicken skins as dishes that have garnered praise during test runs. Seven Lions opens for all three meals from the start.
Singh's wine list, as promised, is all-American save for the Champagne. Many are affordable. Some are baller expensive. 80 percent are Californian. "We couldn't have done this list 15 years ago," she says, illustrating the growth in the American wine scene. "We've come a long way. Someone's got to stand up for American wine."
With the opening of her second highly-anticipated and swanky restaurant, Singh says she now has 500 employees between the two massive operations. But wealth is not the goal, she says, growing her restaurants is.
"This is not about making money," she says. "This is about succeeding."
Seven Lions, 130 S. Michigan Avenue; Website.
Open daily from 10 or 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. or later.