Now that management has finalized the restaurant's concept, the team at Maple & Ash as at "full speed" toward a summer opening in Gold Coast.
Construction continues at the three-story site at the corner of Maple and State streets. Restaurant partner Brian O'Connor chatted about the project's progress — the 40-seat bar on the ground floor, 60-seat outdoor area stretching out to State Street and a luxurious 160-seat dining room upstairs.
They announced the project way back in 2012, but have hit a variety of delays. Recently Urban Outfitters was added to the development. Expect quite a change from The Hunt Club, the Viagra Triangle haunt that once stood at the site of the restaurant at 8 W. Maple St. O'Connor raved about the restaurant's layout, including a walkway from State Street to the dining area.
"The Gold Coast area is ripe for rebirth," he said. "It's already a great neighborhood, but there's a lot of new energy to add on to the classics."
Management promises the menu with feature a variety grass-fed USDA Prime cuts of beef. Some will have been aged onsite, some offsite and butchered in house. Japanese Kobe beef will likely have some sort of presence on the menu.
Chef David Ochs (HotChocolate, Girl & the Goat and others) and his staff will cook those steaks on a hearth, and they'll prepare other items, including seafood and veggies with the open flame.
"The wood just brings so much great flavor to things," O'Connor said.
The grilled-seafood tower is one such item that will benefit from the hearth, as O'Connor described it as a "sibling" to the traditional chilled-seafood tower. Wait staff will assemble the grilled-seafood tower table side.
O'Connor also lauded the restaurant's wine list. Craft beer and cocktails are great, but they've stripped wines of much of the spotlight.
"It think it's time to swing the pendulum back and start popping bottles," he said.