When the 40-story, 1,205-guest-room Marriott Marquis Chicago opened in mid-September, so too did Woven & Bound (2121 S. Prairie Ave., South Loop), a 350-seat American brasserie.
Executive chef Joshua Murray knows what you’re thinking—something along the lines of “Why should I care about a hotel restaurant?”
“I deal with it like a freestanding restaurant. I want locals and the community to come in. Then [if that happens] I can assume hotel guests will want to come, too,” says the Virginia native, who most recently served as executive chef at Phoenix Renaissance Downtown, and has worked at hotel restaurants from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Palm Desert, California—with many stops in between. “I’m not necessarily that corporate-style, prototypical chef,” he adds.
For his first gig in our city, Murray draws a hefty dose of inspiration from the Midwest—more specifically, Chicago; super-specifically, the South Loop neighborhood. Even the restaurant’s name was influenced by its surroundings. “We are connected to the America Book Company building,” he explains. “Like the binding of a book, I’ve taken all the pages and stories of Chicago, woven them together, and bound them.”
Foodwise, this translates to dishes like the Vice District burger: a grass-fed beef patty, garlic aïoli, avocado, fried egg, and Wisconsin cheddar, crowned with housemade, bacon-wrapped pork pâté. “Back in the day, the South Loop was the Vice District—lots of brothels, gangsters, and illegal gambling. I wanted to tell that story,” Murray says. So he created a “burger connoisseur’s burger that’s also definitely a gluttonous burger.”
Woven & Bound serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you’ll find that burger on both the lunch and dinner menus. Lunch also includes a po’ boy featuring Midwestern walleye—an homage to the Great Migration that helped populate Chicago.
If you need further convincing that Murray’s aim is to create more than cookie-cutter hotel restaurant fare, he leaves you with this sentiment: “I want to find ways to take things that people identify with, put my spin on it, elevate it, and still touch their soul.”