The West Loop has finally found life concealed inside a long-vacant space along Randolph Restaurant Row. Hide + Seek has brought quirky modern art and a new American menu with Mediterranean leanings to the former home of quarter-century-old Vivo.
The team feels pressure in delivering a special experience at the two-floor restaurant at 838 W. Randolph Street, next door to Bar Siena and near heavyweights such as Girl & the Goat and Rose Mary. Partner Danny Vargas says they strive to evoke “comfortable elegance” in the form of low-lit bar spaces with plush booths and bar stools, upholstered chairs in bold monochromatic patterns, and feather chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, all selected by prolific local firm Siren Betty Design. There’s seating for 100 between the expansive dining rooms, and more spots along an Italian marble bar.
“You’re only as good as your last at-bat,” Vargas says. “You can execute a ton of incredible experiences and then there’s one where something happens. You have to do your best and make as many people as happy as possible.”
Since opening in August, Vargas has noticed a significant interest in the restaurant’s pasta options, including spinach-and-ricotta gnudi with nduja butter and campanelle with garlic cream, guanciale, and corn. Unexpectedly, escargot en croute with garlic herb butter has also been flying out of the kitchen.
The menu also includes Spanish octopus, an on-trend ingredient that Hide + Seek serves with romesco, marble potatoes, and caper berries, as well as braised short rib with a potato “cloud” and pickled watermelon. At the bar, patrons will find a short menu of drinks such as the tequila-based Pyro’s Negroni and the citrusy City of Lights, made with whiskey, orange curacao, and chamomile.
The restaurant’s leadership is adamant that Hide + Seek is not a club (the partners include Prysm co-owner Nick Karounos) and there’s no dancing, but nightlife components remain: the kitchen is open until midnight, and bar service runs until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. “It’s unorthodox for a restaurant, but it’s fun to see people enjoying the space,” says Vargas. “People still looking to go out and they don’t want to go to a nightclub. They want a sophisticated, lively environment and we’re really speaking to that.”
Vivo closed in 2016, and Nosh & Booze (which closed in 2017) took over the space with its owners promising a new concept that never materialized, a project promised before they were sued for fraud in connection with a West Town restaurant.
Now the space gets a fresh start. Hide + Seek is now open.
Hide + Seek, 838 W. Randolph Street, Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday.