The company behind Maple & Ash and Etta have rolled out a new European-style cafe in the Gold Coast. Café Sophie, the latest from What If Syndicate, is an all-day restaurant with pastries, breakfast sandwiches, frittatas, and fancy toasts in the morning. At lunchtime, the menu transitions to salads and sandwiches.
Cafe Sophie’s wood-burning oven is what sets it apart, says What If partner and executive chef Danny Grant. Customers can choose from an assortment of roasted proteins (meatballs, Spanish chorizo, shrimp, and chicken) served with pizza-style focaccia for a snack or build a meal with several small plates.
Wine is available by the glass or in 500 or 750 ml bottles. The list is comprised of varietals from traditional European regions. There’s also a full bar that offers tweaks on traditional cocktails, while non-alcoholic options include fresh-squeezed juice, house-made soda, and a full coffee bar, though CBD upgrades are also available. That allows laptoppers several more options than they would have at a regular coffeeshop.
Customers are urged to grab a bottle and some food to go, or, perhaps, to purchase an item from Sophie’s retail market, which stocks dried pasta, breads, olive oils, and more.
Grant has said he envisions opening other locations, taking Café Sophie to markets like LA and Dallas, locales with which What If is already familiar. The future of leadership of the company, however, remains unclear: the founding partners are involved in a very public leadership clash in court. If that resolves smoothly, expect to see additional cafes around Chicago, as well.
Cafe Sophie, 847 N. State Street, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.