Sable Kitchen & Bar: A Gastro-lounge Opens in Chicago This Spring

Gastro-lounge Matches Ingredient-driven New American Menu with Forward-thinking Cocktail, Spirit & Wine Program

A few short days into spring, Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood will welcome a new addition for the start of the new season: Sable Kitchen & Bar (505 North State Street). At the helm of Sable, Chicago veteran Chef Heather Terhune will draw inspiration from local Midwest purveyors and farmers for an ingredient-driven New American menu, while nationally recognized Master Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout will create one of Chicago’s largest libraries of brown spirits and forward-thinking cocktail programs alongside a carefully tailored 100 bottle wine list hand-selected by Master Sommelier Emily Wines. As a gastro-lounge, Sable Kitchen & Bar will do for hand-crafted cocktails, spirits and wine what the gastro-pub has done for beer: pair seasonally-inspired cuisine with an artfully designed cocktail, spirits and wine program. A sleek and sexy space with seating for 158 guests, including bar, lounge, dining room and patio options, Sable is a refreshing update on the glamour of the 1940’s, as old Hollywood charm mingles effortlessly with modern industrial touches and classic Chicago warmth.

Sable, which is located adjacent to Kimpton’s soon-to-open Hotel Palomar Chicago, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily as well as brunch on Sundays. The gastro-lounge is set to open for dinner on March 24, 2010 in good company: in addition to 312 Chicago, Atwood Café and South Water Kitchen, Sable marks Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant’s fourth establishment in Chicago.

‘Our name is a nod to the ‘Father of Chicago’ Jean Baptise Point du Sable,’ said General Manager Avi Rathnakumar. ‘Additionally, like the different definitions of the word ‘sable,’ each element of the gastro-lounge soothes: Richly appointed interiors presented in deep hues, a menu of soul satisfying new American cuisine, one of the region’s largest libraries of brown spirits and one of the city’s greatest liquor laboratories all blend to create a look, feel and experience that can best be described as soothing.’

Most aptly described by Terhune as ‘approachable ingredients thoughtfully constructed,’ Sable’s menu will fuse traditional cooking techniques with a modern flair that seeks to highlight the harmony between cocktails, spirits, wine and cuisine. The bar menu will focus on snacks, medium sized plates and brick oven flatbreads while the dinner menu combines small, medium and large plates that encourage sampling and sharing. With a commitment to working with independent Midwest farmers and purveyors, Terhune draws inspiration from local and organic ingredients-everything from seasonal produce to free-range meats and sustainable seafood.

‘Given Chicago’s love affair with the gastro-pub, there is no better city to help introduce and develop its complement – the gastro-lounge. Let’s see what we can do to match culinary wits with cocktails and spirits,’ said Executive Chef Heather Terhune. ‘I am truly excited and inspired to pair New American cooking with a premiere bar program.’

Terhune, a ten year veteran of the Chicago culinary scene arrives at Sable Kitchen & Bar most recently from an Executive Chef post at Atwood Café, the beloved Loop mainstay located in John Root’s historic Reliance Building and now Kimpton’s Hotel Burnham. Before Atwood, Terhune spent time in the kitchen of Jean Louis Palladin, the executive chef and three-star Michelin recipient of Washington, DC’s Palladin restaurant, and in the role of Pastry Chef in the kitchen of Dean Zanella at 312 Chicago. The University of Missouri-Columbia and New England Culinary Institute graduate attributes her loyal following in Chicago to having two versatile hands-one for savory and one for sweet applications.

‘Like people, menus evolve and change. But what does not is my commitment to what Chicagoans enjoy most: straightforward, flavorful dishes that emphasize superior ingredients and value inspired from the city and the region around them,’ added Terhune. ‘Midwestern roots mean a lot.’

The spirit and cocktail program is also intent on achieving the perfect blend of balance and flavor. Under the direction of Master Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout, artfully designed cocktails will maintain a keen eye on the kitchen and what is fresh. Whenever possible, all unique cocktails will be made from juices, fruit purees and ingredients sourced from locally grown produce.

Bezuidenhout will focus on Prohibition-era classics and original Sable creations, offering one of the region’s largest selections of brown spirits, including single malt scotches and bourbon whiskies. Selections will not focus on the rarest or most expensive items, but instead on a large selection of unique, approachable and interesting products. Bezuidenhout and his team will balance the selections out with local and imported bottled and draught craft beers.

As an important component, Bezuidenhout will also look to launch whiskey tastings and cocktail classes in the early summer 2010. The classes, designed for the novice and expert alike, aim to increase an appreciation for brown spirits. Bezuidenhout’s drinks have been featured in the L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and Wine Enthusiast, and spotlighted on the Fine Living Network and the Food Network.

Joining Terhune and Bezuindenhout, Master Sommelier Emily Wines will design the wine program. She is one of only 17 women in the country to earn the coveted designation of Master Sommelier, and the second woman ever to win the prestigious Remi Krug Cup for passing all three portions of the rigorous exam on the first try. At Sable, she looks to create a thoughtful wine list of nearly 100 selections that encompasses great values, hidden gems and classic picks, along with organic selections. Wines will be available by the bottle, the half bottle and the glass.

For the interiors, acclaimed California-based design firm the Puccini Group created a space that is at once soothing and sleek. Running the length of the establishment, floor-to-ceiling windows stream light in the bar and dining spaces, illuminating rich, deep patterns and textures played out in different hues such as oxblood, browns and blacks. Featuring a bar that spans well over 30 feet, seating for 16 at the bar and 34 in the lounge invites guests to stay for one more drink, and then another. An exhibition kitchen complete with a brick oven accents an energetic backdrop to the dining room, comfortably seating 72 while an outdoor patio runs the length of the space seating 36 guests.

At Sable, design tips its hat to the alchemical power of the bar and to the sophisticated comfort of the 40’s and 50’s. Set below a massive chandelier made of glowing orbs circulating in an infinity mirror box of blown glass, the convivial, hopping bar is a centerpiece for the space with glowing mixology stations. Standing behind radiant onyx boxes inset into the bar top, mixologists mimic chemistry experiments as they create one-of-a-kind drinks. Decanters resembling morphed laboratory containers glow underneath light fixtures resembling strands of molecules. Comfortable and creative seating options, including oversized oxblood leather booths envelope guests as gold columns glitter behind them while tufted leather Freudian chaise lounges embrace guests and ease their spirit. As guests make their way from the bar into the lounge, they pass by the cozy heat of a fireplace encased in oversized yellow veined Michelangelo marble, a perfect addition for long Chicago winters.

‘With the start of the coming season, we look forward to sharing our cuisine, cocktails and your company,’ added Rathnakumar ‘We can’t wait to open our doors.’

Breakfast will be served Monday through Saturday 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. while brunch is served on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch will be served Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner will be served from 5:00-11:00 p.m. daily. The bar will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11a.m. – 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Additional information on food and cocktail offerings will be available in February 2010.