Photos: Chris Guillen
All-in-one concept: an equal-parts noshing and lounging scene.
With its myriad sports bars and baseball-capped boys, the Lincoln Park scene often gets a bad rap from me. But the opening in September of Landmark (1633 N. Halsted St.) signifies an evolution in the nabe’s nighttime action. Anchoring the stretch of Halsted near Boka (Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz are the owners behind both spots; Katz also owns the late-night Lincoln Park lounge Katacomb), Landmark makes a statement with its dramatic arching marquee and all-in-one concept-equal parts before- and after-theatre dining and late-night lounging. But some of my companions weren’t impressed with the labyrinth-like layout. “This place has no flow,” complained my friend Seth, 33, an NYC transplant and veteran nightlifer. I, too, needed a couple of visits to find my ground here. At first glance, it’s an overwhelming space-35-foot ceilings with an overhead catwalk-with what seem like too many nooks for standing and mingling. All three dining spaces turn into full-blown scenester spots as the night crawls, and there are two more near-private lairs downstairs for chilling-great for the VIP in you, bad for keeping your posse in one place. The design is ultracontemporary-animal-print seating and light fixtures, modern metal detailing, stuff that clashes and splashes, with three exposed kitchens on two levels, and my favorite touch: a wall of wine bottles (we counted just short of 1,200) laid like brick behind the bar in the Moroccan-textured, gated VIP room downstairs. The eats by executive chef Giuseppe Scurato include woodburning-oven-grilled pizzas and Mediterranean-inspired appetizers and entrées. The crowd isn’t standard-fare Lincoln Park. Recent nights have catered to the likes of Chicago nightlife staple David Schwimmer and actor Terry Kinney, a founder of the nearby Steppenwolf Theatre-both of them in baseball caps, of course.
|Pair-bonding at RiNo|
If you open a 4 a.m. bar, the hard partyers will come. That seems to be the mantra behind River North’s new late-night watering hole RiNo-as in River North-at 343 West Erie Street, owned by Mike Bisbee (Belly’s) and Mike Kaulentis, both 28. “There weren’t any cool, upscale late-night lounges-the city needed this,” says Bisbee. You won’t hear this late-night owl complaining. The scene on a recent Friday looked like a page out of its competitor Le Passage’s playbook: bottle service over here, 20-somethings shaking it to hip-hop over there-that is, if you made it past the doormen’s personal selection process outside. The rustic-chic interior is au naturel-the actual bartop is made from the midsection of a 200-year-old tree, and there are other roadhouse touches like antelope horn light fixtures and cowhide benches. “Nothing here is temporary,” Bisbee explains, meaning no changing light colors or theme nights popular at many dance clubs. Those who frequented the old Jay’s-the space’s former occupant-will find comfort in the familiar faces at RiNo. Jeremy Piven and Richard Dent were also spotted during its opening month.
Playboy founder-and my employer-Hugh Hefner, 79, was in town with the camera crew from his hit E! reality show The Girls Next Door, filming his old stomping grounds and some new ones as well, like Japonais, Nine, and Y, where he and his three beautiful blond gal pals partied alongside onlookers. As I-a brown-haired gal-had my picture snapped with him and his platinum posse, he declared, “I’m going brunette.” Awww. . . . Across Chi-town, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn were getting verrry cozy, says a Nightspotter, who text messaged me at 11 p.m. on a Thursday to tell me the two were kissing and canoodling at a table near the windows inside Tavern on Rush, while smoking up a storm. . . . Actors John Stamos and Parminder Nagra of ER dined together at the newly opened steak-and-seafood restaurant Fulton’s on the River. Stamos also shopped at the new Jake outpost on Rush Street, buying a Filippa K navy zip-up sweater.