The staff behind Brass Heart, the upcoming restaurant replacing 42 Grams in Uptown, is ready to fill a niche in Chicago’s fine dining scene when they hopefully open in late August. Chef Matt Kerney’s crew has recently been bolstered by two hires. New GM/beverage director Sarah Traynor worked at Blackbird and at various restaurants in Austin, Texas, and pastry chef Shawn Anderson worked with Kerney at Longman & Eagle as well as at Graham Elliot Bistro and Art Smith’s Table 52.
Brass Heart will be a sleek 20-seater at 4662 N. Broadway Street with art from local artists hanging on the wall. Traynor said the buildout is complete. They’re still working on the menu, and thus she doesn’t want to reveal what she has in mind for the wine list. The 12- to 15-course menu will cost $175 per person with an optional wine pairing for $110. Traynor only said it will be “small, but very precise”: “Everything with beverage will mimic what the chefs do in the kitchen.”
Earlier, some critics were crying that the sky was falling as fine dining restaurants such as Grace, 42 Grams, and Tru all closed in rapid succession — all for a myriad of reasons. Traynor feels that’s overblown. For example, tourists have plenty of reasons to visit Chicago, and when they’re in town they often want a special meal from a Michelin-starred or Beard Award-winning restaurant.
“I feel there always is a place for restaurants of that caliber,” she said.
Anderson, the new pastry chef, has a doctorate in science and mathematics with a focus on agricultural education from Oregon State University. That background gives him an advantage as he knows precisely how chemicals react, he said. Anderson most recently worked at Regards to Edith in Fulton Market. He’s a big fan of Kerney’s from their time at Longman & Eagle: “I just like his techniques and his drive to always to try something new and innovative.”
He mentioned Kerney’s approach with savory flavors and said the philosophy is similar to how he makes his desserts. He wants approachable dishes that are recognizable but with a twist: “I think we’re goin to see a little bit of whimsy,” Anderson said.
Brass Heart’s opening is now pegged for late August. Stay tuned for more details.