Tonight, a Fulton Market warehouse will officially be home to French bread pizzas, shelves of records, and throwback cocktails courtesy of Untitled owner Marc Bushala. And a microdistillery is not far behind.
The Brass Monkey, Bushala's two-year restaurant and bar project encompassing an entire city block of Morgan between Kinzie and Hubbard, opens to the public tonight with multiple nods to the 1970s, whether overt or veiled.
"I was watching 'American Hustle' one night and thought, 'wow,'" Bushala says. "No one has done 70s."
Bushala has now. You may not notice if from the outside, however, as the only indication of The Brass Monkey is its brass-covered door. But once inside, you'll go through a room filled with records, record players and headphones and into a 100-seat restaurant and bar with mirrored ceilings, a brass bar, exposed brick, Paris street lamps repurposed into light fixtures reminiscent of disco balls, and a barrage of 70s music wafting from speakers.
"(The 70s) had iconic design elements that could be done in a more elegant way without feeling obvious," Bushala says of the space.
The design may not be obviously influenced by the 70s, but the menus certainly are. Developed by Kendal Duque (Sepia, City Tavern) and executed by Ryan Wombacher (Siena Tavern), a brasserie-style menu is paired with a separate "Hits of the '70s" menu that will bring you back to the era of disco and bellbottoms: there are four types of French bread pizza, a salisbury steak TV dinner, "Fish Styx" and a cheese ball. The brasserie menu includes foie gras three ways, veggie cassoulet, squid ink linguini and steak frites.
Fun twists on throwback cocktails are also available: Harvey Wallbanger, "Tequila Sunset," "Chicago River Water," and a play on Tang made of vodka, lemon, spiced pear and cherry heering. There's even Jello and pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. Read through all the menus below.
As far as the distillery goes, Bushala says that will be operational in 3-6 months and produce whiskey, bourbon, rye, vodka, gin and maybe more. A completely separate event space, named Morgan Manufacturing, is already open.
Bushala bought the building two years ago and weathered delays to open tonight in an area just north of Fulton Market itself and near the Google Building, which he envisions as the next restaurant row.
"(The Brass Monkey) is a little left of center in location and concept," he says. Head left of center beginning tonight.