It’s been three months since Bibliophile, Hyde Park’s boozy bakery/bar that’s surrounded by books has opened, bringing a surprise hit to 53rd Street. The restaurant, which serves alcohol-infused desserts, has some annoucements headlined by ownership’s reveal that they’ve formally formed South Shore Hospitality — a new restaurant group — to open other locations. Other changes include the hire of new chef with fine dining experience that’s bringing caviar service, high tea, and brunch to the South Side.
Co-owner Michael Carter explained these changes represent how he and wife Fabiana Carter always wanted to debut Bibliophile. Unforeseen personnel issues forced them to alter their plans. He pointed out that Chicago “doesn’t serve high tea south of the Drake,” referring to the iconic hotel at Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on the North Side. Bibliophile’s high tea service should start next week with selections from Rare Tea Cellar and baked goods from Fabiana’s Bakery, the Brazilian-inspired dessert shop down the street run by Fabiana Carter. She’s created spiked desserts like a cheesecake that tastes like an Old Fashioned.
New chef Keith Miller briefly worked at Alinea and brings fine dining experience. The restaurant opened with a simple bar menu, but that’s gone. Miller’s added items like foie gras, seared wagyu, and seared scallops with “jalapeño snow.” Miller knows locals may not be used to ingredients like this on a menu, but he and Carter want to expand horizons.
“I wanted to create a menu that didn’t have boundaries, to include anything and everything,” Miller said.
Weekend brunch should start on March 15. Besides the new menu rollout, Michael Carter wants to make it official: He and his wife are running a restaurant group. It’s called South Shore Hospitality. Fabiana Carter’s part of the company. South Shore also has plans to open a restaurant in Oak Park as they’ve signed a lease in the suburbs. They’re also scouting other locations, including in Canada. They have lofty aspirations.
“Our goal is a Michelin star at every restaurant,” a confident Michael Carter said.
While some industry observers in Chicago worry the city is becoming overrun by large restaurant companies such as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise, Boka Restaurant Group, and One Off Hospitality, South Shore is different. Michael Carter is black. Fabiana Carter is Brazilian. South Shore Hospitality may be the only black- and Latina-owned restaurant group in Chicago. The company’s composition is important in communities like Hyde Park. Michael Carter talked about how hard it’s difficult to attract talented restaurant industry personnel to work on the South Side. There are biases in regard to the area. Theses are misconceptions about safety and the notion that locals have no interest or money to spend at upscale restaurants. These are all false conclusions, Michael Carter said, and that leads to many prospective workers preferring to work on the North Side.
“We’ve had people who’ve called us from all over the city that don’t know the neighborhood,” Carter said of Hyde Park. “When they get here, they love it.”
The dinner menu launched last month and so far regulars have embraced the changes, Michael Carter said. Bibliophile has been successful in its brief tenure, he added. And now with a new menu, chef, and a restaurant group behind it, Carter feels they’re poised for the next level of success.