The former Tsunami space, shuttered since June 2009, gains a new tenant soon: Chicago Q (1160 N. Dearborn St.; 312-642-1160), a Southern-style barbecue place from the developer Fred Latsko (Table Fifty-Two). The prospective menu offers standbys for a barbecue joint, such as pulled pork, brisket, and hot links, and also less common items, such as smoked pastrami and brown-sugar-barbecued bologna. “It’s all about the Q!” read the blurb in our in box. Coincidentally, our Scrabble newsletter had the same phrase.
“What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends?” –James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish writer
Graham Elliot Bowles tossed us a few more details about Grahamwich (615 N. State St.; no phone yet), his upcoming casual sandwich and soda spot in River North.
• The menu will have eight sandwiches.
• Sides—which will be called “snacks”—include the famous truffle popcorn from Graham Elliot and homemade pickles.
• Four homemade sodas will be available from the fountain.
• Two soft-serve items will change seasonally. “[They] will be more along the lines of a composed dish, as opposed to [the kind where you] add your silly sprinkles and crap on top,” Bowles says.
• Grahamwich will open at 7 a.m. every day, with a breakfast service till 11 a.m., consisting of French-press Metropolis coffee, squeezed-to-order juice, and baked goodies from Fritz Pastry.
• “We thought of having a wall of comments [that customers can reference to write] shitty Yelp reviews: ‘Yes, we took this long to open.’ ‘We only have this many seats.’ Call ourselves out before anyone else can,” Bowles told us. Are you really going to do that? we asked. “Depends how we feel that day,” he replied.
• The bad news: They’re still waiting on permits. “It will open when it opens,” says Jim Colombo, Bowles’s right-hand man. The current estimate sets the opening between mid-July and early August.
You Can Call Me El
After a few difficult years in the real-estate business, Ellen Haran found an empty commercial space in west Lincoln Park. She knew conditions favored renting, so she jumped ship on real estate and opened El’s Kitchen (1450 W. Webster Ave.; 773-248-5210) on June 17th. Under the eye of the chef, Colin Beauvais, the restaurant serves sandwiches, house-made desserts, and barbecue brisket and ribs prepared in a mammoth 8-by-8-foot smoker. “I had to cut a hole in the floor, get a crane, and lower [the smoker] into the basement,” Haran says. Among the sides is a pineapple coleslaw. “Sounds icky, but once you eat it, it’s like, wow, it’s good,” she says. The opening made for a special experience. “I had that moment: ‘This is true. I’m open.’ Everyone looked good. The music was the right song—something by James Taylor. No boom boom boom,” she says. “It was really nice. I finally opened.”
He Said It
“That’s really not what we’re doing. They are customers, and they just asked me to help out. I’m not like a consulting chef at all. [I was] answering some restaurant question for them—just some rough ideas about kitchen storage, those sorts of things. [I was] asked as someone in the business but not as a consultant in any way, shape, or form.” –Doug Sohn, the chef/owner at Hot Doug’s, about reports that he consulted for the sausage menu at the beer-and-encased-meats bar in the works at 1670 West Division Street
Chef of Police
By night, Jim Brill is a plainclothes Chicago cop. By day, he brings a new meaning to half of “to serve and protect,” as the owner of A’Cappella (1301 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-922-0600), an American comfort food restaurant that opened on Mother’s Day. A’Cappella’s menu tends toward straightforward dishes, described unpretentiously, such as “baked stuffed meatloaf” ($11.95) and “oven-roasted pork loin” ($13.95). Customers can also order specialty cakes from Kristin Brill, Jim’s daughter. Don’t even think about skipping out on the check.
On the Blog
• Boka Restaurant Group has secured the former Tizi Melloul space.
• Palermo Bakery is opening a third location, in Old Town.
• Aaron Deal is out as executive chef of Custom House Tavern, to be replaced by the St. Louis chef Perry Hendrix.
Things to Do
1. Introduce your organic-food-loving friends to the Market Pizza at Elate (Hotel Felix, 111 W. Huron St.; 312-202-9900)—toppings change daily, but always come from Green City Market.
2. Learn to make Chicago’s 21st-best pizza, the Margherita from Frasca (3358 N. Paulina St.; 773-248-5222), at a class on June 26th at 3 p.m. For $25, in addition to pizza-making knowledge, participants get one pizza and two glasses of wine. Warning: The second glass of wine may make pizzas come out lopsided.
3. Check out the list of Chicago restaurants now classified as Guaranteed Green, in a program run by the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op. Guaranteed Green restaurants have met certification standards of independent nonprofit reviewers in sustainable food, cleaning products, plates, utensils, and furnishings and in energy, water, and waste management.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Brown Sack (3706 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-661-0675) shuts down on Saturday the 26th to relocate to 3581 West Belden Avenue. Adam Lebin, a partner, says it’s a much better space—more square footage, corner windows, and outdoor seating, which they’ve always wanted. . . . Guanajuato (73 Green Bay Rd.; 847-242-0909) opens today. . . . Black Dog Gelato (859 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-3116) opens Friday.