After all the delays and anticipation, Tom Powers said he wasn’t going to provide much notice before opening The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet, his multilevel wine bar and restaurant off Randolph Street. True to his word, LLP opened quietly on Tuesday—at least the first floor. Chicago magazine reported that the basement level and second floor will open in the coming weeks at 736 W. Randolph St.
Powers, LLP’s owner and sommelier, has much experience with West Loop restaurants. He worked with Vivo, Marche, and Red Light. Some may also know him as host of BarHunters, a reality show on Discovery. He’s assembled an impressive list of 75 wines and wants to eventually grow the list to 200 wines. Powers doesn’t want drinkers to hunt for value, but his experience as a wine buyer means it has plenty of special selections available for connoisseurs. Powers feels that his wine bar offers the neighborhood something unique: he wants to ensure the West Loop has a space that’s parts whimsical, intellectual, and naughty—hence the space’s name.
The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet also features the talents of bar director Steve Carrow. Carrow is a bartender with more than two decades of experience including a stint with Naha in River North. He created a variety of potent cocktails, and his bartenders are even pouring pitchers of martinis. Carrow has a charming, illustrated book of cocktail recipes called the Potation Handbook. The illustrated book comes leatherbound and Powers called it one of the most-influential books in the cocktail industry. One of the drinks, Lanfray’s Trigger Absinthe Green, features a European-style absinthe from six botanicals. The name is derived from a 1905 murder that led to absinthe’s ban in Switzerland.
But drinks are just part of the fun. Powers’ philosophy was that Americans would visit wine bars more frequently if the food is of better quality. The menu (see below) has gone through some changes. It’s now more of classic bistro fare. Jessica Nowicki, formerly of Naha and Brindille, has been elevated to executive chef.
The wine bar is an elegant antidote to the fratty antics that seem to have infected much of the West Loop. There’s a heavy literary lean, with a selection of quotes from books, movies and pop culture on the wall facing the staircase down to the basement.
After almost two years of waiting, you can now step inside Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet.
The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet, 736 W. Randolph St., hours not posted yet.