And by restaurant, we mean bar. A bar with really good food.
Jason Vincent, a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2013, is one of the Chicago restaurant scene's biggest players. Along with his partners, chef Ben Lustbader and sommelier Josh Perlman, Vincent opened his first critically-acclaimed spot, Giant, which remains one of Chicago’s most difficult reservations to score. (The space is, ironically, pretty small, with just 44 seats). The trio’s second venture, City Mouse, is an all-day spot located in the city’s uber-trendy Fulton Market district. But the team has big plans ahead.
Vincent has shared with Food & Wine that he, Lustbader, and Perlman will be opening a third concept: Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar. Three Giant alums also have a hand in the new space as partners: Chase Bracamontes as general manager, and Aaron Kabot and Tom Scodari as chefs. Slated to open this summer in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood, the classy-yet-divey bar has ambitious plans for the food, too.
“I definitely think of it as a bar first,” Vincent says. But it’s also a Chinese restaurant, a spot for late-night lo mein and the kind of Chinese-American food Vincent grew up eating in the suburbs of Cleveland—think Mongolian beef and egg foo yung. The inspiration for this specific type of cuisine is rooted in family meals at Giant, when reactions were overwhelmingly positive when the kitchen whipped up cashew chicken or egg rolls. “It hits a spot that you can’t describe,” Vincent says. “We like to cook what we like to eat.”
In addition to the classics, the menu will feature a section called “Chef’s Special” that’ll offer more experimental dishes. “It’s where we’re allowed to try out new stuff,” Vincent says. Or, a place for chefs to get cheffy. The hope is that some of the Chef’s Specials are received so well that they get moved over to the regular menu.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait for summer to taste-test Chef’s Special’s food. That’s because Vincent and Lustbader plan to offer a rotating Chef’s Special menu item at Giant all winter. So hurry up and book a table. They go fast.