On the heels of Sepia’s recent James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist nominations (Outstanding Wine Program; Best Chef, Great Lakes for Andrew Zimmerman), the crew behind nine-year-old West Loop darling has announced plans to open a new restaurant at the end of the year.
Partner Emmanuel Nony says a Sepia follow-up has been long in the making, but he and the team have been in no particular hurry. “Sepia is our pride and our jewel,” he says like a proud papa. “We had some good ideas, and we really wanted [to open] something that will complement Sepia.”
Details on the winning concept are scant, but here’s what Chicago was able to glean from a recent chat with Nony and Zimmerman.
Address: They’re not telling. According to Nony, “We cannot reveal the address yet, but we can say that we wanted to remain within a few miles of Sepia.” (Ed note: Well that really narrows it down.) “We didn’t want to spend hours in the car traveling between the two,” he says. “Yeah, I don’t do my best cooking in the car,” Zimmerman adds.
Also vague here. According to Zimmerman, “The way we have been trying to explain it without actually explaining it is to say that it’s a reflection of who we are.” “It’s a mix of AZ’s background, my experience, and different cultures,” offers Nony. (Zimmerman grew up in the U.S., while Nony hails from France and spent extensive time in Asia.)
Zimmerman goes on to explain that while Sepia’s array of offerings are nebulous, but always conceived through the lens of fine-dining, the food at the new spot will be “more roll your sleeves up and dig in, while still reflecting our international experience.”
The menu will be larger than Sepia’s and will feature lower price points. Wine-wise, while Sepia has almost 500 labels with prices reaching $500, expect less than 100 labels, priced mostly in the $30 to $80 range.
Sepia is refined and subtle, but the new spot (to be designed by boutique New York-based firm Meyer Davis) will skew lively and bold. “We feel Sepia is not stuffy, but we want something more convivial, where people can dive in and have a good time,” says Zimmerman.