Heads up, Stephanie Izard: There’s another restaurateur with designs on upscale Chinese in the West Loop. Austin Baker (Bar Marta) will open a new restaurant (905 W. Randolph St., no phone yet) in November, right near Duck Duck Goat.
With double the capacity—around 220 seats altogether—diners seeking Sichuan-inspired fare in the Market District may have found a way around that eternal wait. The converted warehouse space will feature two distinct floors, each with unique menus, plus two private pre-ticketed rooms downstairs that will showcase a family-style Chinese feast. For those keeping track at home, that’s three concepts rolled into one, each with its own unique feel.
“There’s a good chance the upstairs and downstairs will have different names to reflect that,” says Baker. As for what those names might be, well, “Right now things just keep changing like crazy.” Downstairs is devoted to the two private chambers (both 10-tops) and a 50-seat fine dining area focused on Sichuan cuisine. While there will be some overlap across the two menus, presentations will be very different. The ticketed rooms channel ornate Chinese wedding beds (if that sounds odd, Google it). The public area, on the other hand, is a “jewel box” decorated with 280 handmade Chinese lanterns. Picture red leather booths and black lacquered tables around a 12-seat bar and open kitchen.
Upstairs will retain a more industrial feel and offer a smorgasbord of Chinese eats. There will be buffet, a barbecue, and street food, plus a roving dim sum cart that will dish up dumplings on the fly. This 150-seat floor—with its thirteen 10-top booths and 35-seat bar—skews a bit more casual.
The menus themselves are still in the works. But, says Baker, “Ben [Ruiz, executive chef at Bar Marta] will be a big part of the kitchen. That’s all I can say for now.”