Chicago Winery, the new tenants of the former Zed451 building in River North, promise to make good use of the cavernous downtown space in mid- or late-October when the restaurant should debut.
First Batch Hospitality opened Brooklyn Winery in 2010 and followed with District Winery in 2017. They’re following the same blueprint in Chicago — they’re converting the former Zed’s rooftop bar into a private events venue. Though announced in June, the space has already drawn interest for weddings and winter holiday parties.
While the event venue and the winemaking operation is called Chicago Winery, the restaurant portion is called Liva. Whereas Zed, served diners large slabs of meat, Liva’s menu will feature about 20 shareable plates, charcuterie, and large proteins like a whole branzino or a spin on steak Florentine, says executive chef Andrew Graves. Another dish he’s excited about is a ricotta-stuffed ravioli.
Graves is a former sous chef at Alinea, and also worked at Next Restaurant, and Aviary. He’s also cooked at the Promontory in Hyde Park. But what might catch diners’ eyes is Graves developed the menu at Terra & Vine, the Evanston restaurant owned by one of Chicago’s most famous sommeliers, Alpana Singh. Given that last credential, it’s apparent that Graves has experience ensuring food and wine complement each other.
Liva, a name derived from the Scandinavian word for life, won’t have a fine dining bent like Graves’ Alinea adventures. It’s creative modern Midwestern cuisine that will pair well with the wine made on premises.
“I don’t know if it’s really as complicated as people make it out to be,” Graves says of getting the food and wine programs in step. “It’s really a matter of having good wine and having food that plays off that good wine.”
The menu will lean European and the classic wine regions, but Graves isn’t opposed to dipping into other places for inspiration if the situation calls for it, For example, Graves says he has an XO Sauce he’s ready to deploy on the menu.
Weekend brunch will be part of the repertoire, and Graves says they’ll have a late-night menu. Liva has also brought aboard veteran Chicago bartender Roger Landes. Landes worked at Rick Bayless’ Bar Sotano, the Loyalist, and Mi Tocaya Antojeria in Logan Square. A news release mentions a draft nitro-brewed espresso martini as part of the beverage program.
Graves also notes they’re working on an all-season sidewalk patio along Clark Street. Stay tuned for more coverage in the coming months.
Liva at Chicago Winery, 739 N. Clark Street, planned for a mid- or late-October opening.