In a project beset by delays, Maple & Ash (8 W. Maple St., no phone yet) has finally kindled in a new building on the site of the former Hunt Club, pegging a summer opening.
Maple & Ash will specialize in steaks, cooked on a hearth centrally located in the restaurant, on trend with Rural Society, Roister, Promontory, and River Roast. David Ochs, the executive chef, says they plan to source some meat from local ranchers and butcher in-house. “We have a meat saw,” says Ochs, who has put in stints at what seems like a high percentage of Chicago’s great restaurants—Tournesol, HotChocolate, Naha, Scylla, Custom House, Girl & the Goat. He hopes to make use of the hearth for vegetables and seafood as well as meat, and even cook fruits and bake cakes in it for dessert.
Diners will access the main dining room, located on the third floor, via an elevator through the ground-floor bar, which has its own kitchen and a patio. The 160-seat dining room is broken into smaller spaces to feel more intimate. All is designed by Karen Herold of Studio K, currently the unchallenged doyenne of Chicago restaurant design (Balena, Embeya, GT Fish & Oyster). “There is absolutely a sense of luxury,” Ochs says. “It’s a place to celebrate.”
Interesting trend, this open-fire thing. If anyone ever combines open-fire cooking with the paleo diet, it could be just like the restaurant in The Flintstones.