Of all the restaurant openings on the calendar for 2007, here are the ones that have us salivating.
After a 27-year run, Richard Melman (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises) in June will shutter Ambria, one of Chicago’s most elegant and celebrated dining rooms. But Melman loves the space and has big plans for a new look, a new culinary direction, and a new chef. (2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-472-5959)
The muscle behind Japonais, Miae Lim and Rick Wahlstedt must think there’s not enough traffic on West Chicago Avenue. Their solution: Clone New York’s Brasserie Ruhlmann-only bigger-and get ready for the kind of energy that only a true Paris bistro can generate. ETA: August. (Montgomery Ward building, 500 W. Superior St.; 312-494-1900)
Jackson Park Bar and Grill
Jason Paskewitz‘s résumé is longer than most menus (Gabriel’s, Nine, Wave, SushiSamba Rio, JP Chicago), but this summer he’s opening his own place in River North and we think he’ll stick. After all, he gets to cook his favorite food: contemporary Chicago cuisine. (444 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-644-7200)
Emmanuel Nony, Epcot Center’s former chef de France-and a veteran of Hyatt hotel restaurants all over the world, including Chicago’s NoMI-is settling in Chicago. He figures his “contemporary restaurant that celebrates traditions” will be up and running in the Fulton Market district by July. (123 N. Jefferson St.; 312-441-1920)
Nearly every bite of food at Art Smith‘s Gold Coast spot (formerly Albert’s Café) will come out of a wood-fired oven in the center of the room when the place finally opens. Originally, it was slated for summer 2006; we think that means any minute now. “My whole life I have been serving people in their home,” says Art Smith, chef/owner. “If this restaurant has the taste of home and feeling of home, we have been successful.” (52 W. Elm St.)