The restaurateur Billy Lawless ties the names of his Michigan Avenue restaurants to the history of the buildings they’re in—more and more obliquely over time, it seems. First it was the Gage, named for the Gage brothers, turn-of-the-(last-)century milliners in the building. Then Henri, next door, came from the less-familiar middle name of the skyscraper pioneer Louis Sullivan.
Now, Lawless will close Henri in late June and replace it with 10/6 (18 S. Michigan Ave., 312-578-0763), named for a piece of millinery miscellany: the price tag on the Mad Hatter’s hat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Pre-decimalization in the United Kingdom, ten shillings and sixpence (“ten and six,” as insiders will call the restaurant) was half a guinea. “We will have a half Guinea hen special,” Lawless says.
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In the three- to four-week transformation from Henri to 10/6, the cuisine will shift from French to Italian, and the room will relax a bit, to become more appealing to tourist foot traffic. “Henri scared the crap out of people,” says Chris Gawronski, the chef for both projects. “Too formal a feel.”
Gawronski’s menu will foreground homemade pastas and seaside foods, such as giant octopus with Calabrian and a bagna cauda. He also will serve zampone, a traditional Italian food he calls “the challenging dish.” It consists of trotters stuffed with the garlic-heavy sausage cotechino served with ramps, seasonal mushrooms, and pork jus. “Billy looks at me and says, ‘Why do you do this to me?’ I like educating people and sometimes I just like being a snot,” Gawronski says.
Gawronski also mentions desserts by Mitsu Nozaki (Urban Union, Boka), meats cured in-house, and a seven-course, $65 pasta tasting menu. No word yet on specials on October 6, but that alignment of name and date seems too good to ignore.