By Phil VettelContact Reporter Chicago Tribune
Beatnik on the River, which opened in the Loop on Monday, is attempting to succeed where two previous restaurants — Pearl Tavern and Pearl Brasserie — did not.
Working in the newcomer’s favor, perhaps, is that Beatnik on the River isn’t a newcomer at all, but a sibling to the already successful Beatnik in West Town (with much the same menu).
Still, Marcos Campos, executive chef for both restaurants, understands the Loop’s unique challenges.
“It’s a different area, not one where people come for dinner,” he said. “There are a lot of office workers for lunch, but most people only have 20, 25 minutes to eat.”
Accordingly, BOTR and the adjacent Cafe Bonhomme are built for speed during daylight hours. The cafe opens at 7 a.m. weekdays for grab-and-go commuters, offering coffee, juices, pastries and such sandwiches as smoked salmon on a croissant and a brioche-bun egg sandwich with grilled mortadella and spinach aioli. BOTR, which opens at 11 a.m., will offer the same sandwiches as part of a full menu that’s available into the evening.
BOTR’s location may be the strongest sell, particularly in the summer. The entire restaurant sits on the property’s river-view landing, which abounds with greenery (potted plants and a profusion of ivy on the exterior brick walls) and offers bench seating with colorful cushions, glass-tile tabletops and fringed umbrellas. An extendable awning can provide shelter from all but the most determined rains.
“It’s one of the most beautiful areas on the river,” said Campos. “It’s going to make you feel like you’re not in Chicago. Morocco, maybe, or Italy. I’m super excited about it.”
Beatnik on the River and Cafe Bonhomme, 180 N. Wacker Drive. Cafe open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday; Beatnik 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday.
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