It's time to raise the curtain for the new café and bar opening adjacent to Steppenwolf Theatre. Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, named for its location in front of the existing lobby, offers show-goers a convenient place to grab a cocktail and slice of goat cheese pizza before a show or for local to pick up a cup of La Colombe coffee with a side of clafoutis (French custard cake). The bar opens today with a food and beverage program with consultation by Boka Restaurant Group.
Coffee and pastries take center stage during the day, and chef Chris Pandel steals the show with breakfast pizza. Assorted salads, grilled eggplant, porchetta, prosciutto sandwiches, and Roman-style pizza by the slice are available at night. Cocktails also get a bit theatrical, with concoctions such as the "East of Eden" (Wild Turkey, Dolin blanc vermouth, and house grenadine) and "Playwright's Muse" (Pigs Nose scotch and Ramazotti amaro). These are served in addition to beer, cider and wine by the glass.
Although the space is mostly contemporary — leather furniture, royal blue curtains, and booze stored on metal shelves over a square bar that are reminiscent of the catwalk above a stage — several items pay tribute to the theater's long past. Designers Karen Herold and Kayce Carter of Studio K and Grip hid several Steppenwolf relics throughout the space, from a prop Violet Weston pill vial from 2007's August: Osage County to the original O'Rourke's globe attached to the central bar as homage to the O'Rourke's bar, which sat across the street until 2001 and served as post-show hangout for artists and audiences.
Front Bar, 1700 N. Halsted St., open 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day.