If you’re looking for a great time, and some celebrity-chef designed food to go with it, set your countdown timer for March 10. That’s the day that Punch Bowl Social (310 N. Green Street, West Loop) opens its first Chicago location, with a plethora of gaming options and a Southern-inspired menu by chef Hugh Acheson.
Acheson (who is a James Beard Award winner, a regular on Top Chef and owns several acclaimed restaurants), wants to serve “food that pulls the heart strings.” The menu, which includes both Southern-inspired diner food and some healthier options, is designed to be elevated, yet approachable, without anything that’s hard to decipher. “What I want to evoke is some sort of a purity and simplicity that’s deliverable,” Acheson says.
While diners eat dishes like fried chicken and waffles with smoked jalapeno–pecan maple syrup, black-eyed pea hummus, or Hugh’s pimento cheese, there will be plenty to keep them entertained. The 30,000 square foot space is going to have table tennis, shuffleboard, virtual-reality games, bowling, arcade games, and more.
Acheson plans to spend a lot of time training the kitchen on what he calls the “little things,” techniques that help to elevate Punch Bowl Social above the competition. “Like properly resting meats after they’ve been cooked or how to make a salad that’s not drenched in vinaigrette,” he explains.
In addition to the Southern-inspired comfort food, Acheson has also developed some healthier options, like the superfood grain bowl. “It’s farro and quinoa and carrots and chilies and a beautiful poached egg and a ginger vinaigrette—that’s the style of food that I tend to eat most regularly,” said Acheson. “But if you want an Alabama chicken sandwich with white barbecue sauce, it’s going to be beautiful.”
Below, Acheson talks Southern food on Food at Google: