Many Chicagoans love to eat outdoors when the weather allows them, and that presents a set of challenges for the owners of Beatnik On The River and Cafe Bonhomme, the new patio/cafe combo that opened on Monday at 180 N. Wacker Drive. Beatnik on the River sprouts from Beatnik — the uber-popular Eater Award-winning West Town restaurant and bar that mixes a unique patio, bohemian vibes, and a sceney atmosphere — while Cafe Bonhomme is a new idea for Bonhomme Hospitality Group, the people behind well-regarded spots Fulton Market Kitchen, Black Bull, and Bordel.
Chef Marcos Campos, who oversees Beatnik and the two newcomers, knows that office workers don’t have as much time to linger. In most cases they’ll need to fuel up and quickly leave. But during that time, he wants customers to feel that they’ve escaped their responsibilities and that they’re no longer in Chicago. The 80-seat patio will help.
Therefore, Beatnik on the River’s menu also blends Spanish and Mediterranean tastes in some small plates as well as seriously large entrees. West Town’s popular roasted Lebanese-style lamb with fresh roti is a massive platter that won’t be served by the river. Instead a 45-ounce dry-aged beef ribeye makes it way downtown. A truncated Beatnik menu does feature 12 items from the West Town location, including a whole fish (green harissa, Mediterranean amba, pickled red onions & herb salad), double cheeseburger, and fried chicken.
The drink menu features seven drinks ported over from Beatnik West Town. The new addition is a Spanish-style gin and tonic. It’s not served with infused gin, like the drink is commonly served in Spain. But hopefully they’ll serve it in giant goblets that will be perfect for sipping while on the patio. The menu also includes alcohol-free cocktails, just like at the original Beatnik. But these two drinks are new: the “Bey Juice” is a ginger-mint lemonade, while “Thyme Marches On” is made with bell pepper agave, lime, thyme, and sparkling water.
The cafe serves Sparrow Coffee, as the local roaster continues to dominate Chicago’s dining scene. Fresh juices and smoothies give customers an option if they don’t want a pastry. Its pastry case includes croissant, muffins, and an orange and medjool date bun.
The cafe and the patio share a sandwich menu, which is something the original Beatnik lacks. Selections include a jamón ibérico & tomato, and ratatouille and mozzarella selections. The cafe also has exclusive items not served on the patio including tuna tataki, jamon iberico wrapped scallops, and huevos rotos & chorizo.
Check out the menus below, as Cafe Bonhomme and Beatnik On The River are open.