The people behind what many consider to be Chicago’s top restaurant group are going French for their next restaurant. Acclaimed chef Paul Kahan and his One Off Hospitality Group partners plan to open Café Cancale, a coastal France-inspired restaurant, bar, and bakery, this summer in their former Publican Anker space in the heart of Wicker Park, according to a news release. Anker closed after brunch service on March 24 to make room for the new spot at 1576 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
Café Cancale, inspired by Kahan and his wife’s trip to the west coast of France for the chef’s 50th birthday, will focus on seafood, coastal wines, coffee, and baked goods — which will also be available for pickup. Expect lunch, brunch and dinner service, with “simple” dishes using French technique and ingredients local to Chicago. An example of which is trout meunière with truffle peach olives and roasted breakfast radish. Oysters and other raw shellfish will also be plentiful, as well as baguettes and pastries from Publican Quality Bread.
The space, which was somewhat beer-themed under its predecessor, will become French sea-inspired after a full redesign. What that means is diners can expect lots of blues, creams, and whites, with marble floors, tables, and the bar.
Publican Anker, the Wicker Park spinoff of the essential original Publican in Fulton Market, lasted more than two years in one of the highest-trafficked intersections in Chicago. Kahan previously said that the restaurant still did good business — indeed it was still busy for dinner, brunch, and its bar. He called the decision to close “very humbling” — but said that “we’re just excited to do something we think is better.”
Wicker Park has long been a popular draw for tourists, shoppers, live music, and bar crowds, yet sophisticated restaurants have not always done well in the popular area. One Off has a long history of success in the neighborhood, however, with essential spots Big Star, the Violet Hour, and Dove’s Luncheonette continuing to be among the most acclaimed and in-demand restaurants and bars in Chicago.
Paul Kahan wasn’t available for more comment before press time on One Off’s latest Wicker Park endeavor. Stay tuned for much more before Café Cancale’s targeted summer opening.