For nearly the last two years, following his exit from the now-shuttered acclaimed Nightwood, rumors have swirled about Jason Vincent possibly opening his own restaurant. Today is the day the announcement comes, first reported by Crain's, as the lauded chef is returning to the Chicago scene with a Logan Square restaurant named Giant. The ironically-named small spot is taking over the former Begin Thai space at 3209 W. Armitage—on a growing strip between Scofflaw and Sink|Swim—and is slated to open in May.
When asked to describe the concept, Vincent is hesitant to typecast what Giant will be and handcuff his cooks. "We're going back to delicious food and great service and all that stuff," the former Food & Wine best new chef says. "We like seasonable and responsibly-raised vegetables and meats...we're going to make delicious food and you're going to like it." Vincent will be joined by chef/partner Ben Lustbader (Lula Cafe, Nightwood, Publican Quality Meats) and beverage director Josh Perlman (Avec).
The tiny raw space, which Vincent says is "tres Brooklyn," will have between 36 and 44 seats, with just two rows of banquettes with tables encompassing the dining room. Workers ripped out the wall that separated the kitchen and dining room to make the kitchen "exposed as much as it can be," and Vincent is hoping to add a small kitchen counter with four seats. A small backyard patio will add more room in the summer months. There is no physical bar, but Vincent doesn't mind, saying "we're in the Scofflaw district and those guys do (booze) very well."
Vincent, who left Nightwood to spend more time with his kids, insists that opening a restaurant "was a tough decision" and he considered remaining a stay-at-home dad. "My wife had a heart-to-heart with me a year ago," he explains. "[She said] 'it would be a dick move to not do anything with [all your restaurant experience].'" He started looking for a space, one fell through, and he signed this lease last August.
Although he says the space is still raw, they're now in the "go go go" phase and he expects to open in May. Giddyup.