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Land and Sea Dept. Will Revive the Cherry Circle Room

With a veteran of the Gage in the kitchen.

Peter Coenen   Photo: Clayton Hauck

When Land and Sea Dept. (Longman & Eagle, Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Lost Lake) makes its first foray into air for the second-floor restaurant at the Loop’s Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, it will also mark the circling back of the Cherry Circle Room (Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave., no phone yet), the restaurant that originally opened in the space in the 1890s.

Peter Coenen, who spent two years a few doors down Michigan Avenue running the Gage, will serve as executive chef. Although they hope to open by late May or early June, Coenen says the menu remains sketchy, but he plans to prepare broad-appeal, “rustically refined” food. For example, they might offer a tableside steak tartare. “Perhaps with chili emulsion and salsa verde and a really nice aged Gouda Microplaned to the side. Salsa would be right on top. A quail egg cracked on the side and emulsified at the table,” he says. And he definitely foresees a hamburger. “Everyone has to have a burger these days,” he says. “But no fried chicken.”

The Cherry Circle Room’s dining area seats 70, with 30 more accommodated at the bar. Land and Sea also controls food and drink in the hotel lobby, the game room, and a 10-seat “micro bar” called the Milk Room, specializing in cocktails and rare spirits.

In keeping with the old-school, revival theme of the restaurant’s name and decor, customers in the game room can play bocce, billiards, and shuffleboard—the table type, not the cruise-ship type. What, no bid whist?

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