Bar Sótano, the new basement bar from spirits director Lanie Bayless and famous father Rick Bayless, should open on November 15 beneath Frontera Grill. The family unveiled the space to a select few — including a not-so-anonymous Tribune food critic Phil Vettel — revealing a space with room for 50 where customers will enter through an alley door at 443 N. Clark Street in River North.
Vettel described dishes like a crispy chicken thigh with a mango-habanero glaze, and mussels with garlic, lemongrass, serrano, and cilantro. Not all of the dishes will make it to the final menu. They are very much in beta mode. Frontera private events chef Rishi Manoj Kumar is Bar Sótano’s chef.
Mexican spirits like mezcal have become more popular in Chicago and that opens the door for Bayless. At one point, there were rumors that Bayless’ former Wicker Park space would become more cocktail focused. Those changes never materialized.
In River North, Lanie Bayless created the cocktail recipes as she tried to emulate drinks found on the streets of Oaxaca. There are juice-driven drinks, classic cocktails that use medicinal herbs, and more. As with many previews, the chefs — and bartenders — are still playing with the right amount of heat. They’re still adjusting at Bar Sótono, according to Vettel. There are also cocktails meant to evoke savory dishes like a guacamole cocktail and one based off taco al pastor.
Stay tuned for more news as the November 15 opening date approaches. Check out the sample menu posted on the website below. It’s a sample and by the looks of things there’s still some revising to be done.