SoulFood Lounge and 8 new restaurant openings in Chicago | Catch My Job


A new restaurant has debuted after a decade of anticipation at a historic site on Chicago’s West Side.

The SoulFood Lounge has just opened in the Dr. King Legacy Apartments building in the North Lawndale neighborhood on October 5. The building originally opened in 2011. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives with his family in an old building on the site. to highlight housing segregation in 1966.

Quentin Love sits in the dining room of his new North Lawndale restaurant The SoulFood Lounge on Oct. 19, 2022, in Chicago.

Chef Quentin Love, who also owns Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill in West Humboldt Park, teamed up with the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, the developers behind the rental property, to launch a fine dining experience with what could be surprise menu.

“It’s soul food fusion,” Love said.

Soul food isn’t just for African American culture, he said; there is soul food for every culture.

“In the African American community, we coined this concept of soul food. But if you go to a Latin community, pollo guisado might be their soul food, or in a Mexican community, they have tortillas. It is their soul food.

“The SoulFood Lounge is a variety of American, Italian, Asian and Mexican cuisine, all under one roof,” says the chef.

The menu offers a Grand Tasting option with your choice of three entrees, plus a drink and dessert.

Love suggested Louisiana blackened salmon with shrimp scampi, Korean rib tips and cavatappi.

The blueberry basil lemonade at The SoulFood Lounge.

“Then you can follow it up with blueberry basil lemonade, or cucumber mint lemonade,” she says. “We’re BYOB. The drinks we sell are lemonade and tea based.”

One dish that has emerged as an early fan favorite is the mac and cheese lobster balls finished with a Parmesan crumble, especially for one restaurant in its 70s.

“I love it when our elders come to eat, because they are the real food critics,” says the chef. “The young palate is not the food critic.”

The most important thing, however, is that the restaurant is in North Lawndale, the restaurateur added.

“North Lawndale represents what the revitalization of any inner city across the nation looks like,” Love said. “Most inner cities are food deserts, from grocery stores to restaurants. That leaves an open market for all kinds of criminal activity and violence. You have amazing people living in these communities, but no businesses. Without the businesses, it’s almost like a free fall.”

He praises the developers for revitalizing the area by building apartments for residents in the community and adding an upscale restaurant that will help the neighborhood thrive further.

“There’s nothing like being able to dress up, and walk outside your door to go somewhere nice,” said the chef. “What I’m experiencing right now is so powerful. It gives us hope. It inspires us to want better things for our community.”

It’s a cute little 30 seater, he added. It is also one of the few indoor dining restaurants that is not a fast food establishment in the neighborhood.

The SoulFood Lounge offers beauty in the form of plated desserts, including deconstructed peach cobbler, crumpled banana custard and, Love’s personal favourite, grilled pound cake.

“I wanted to make something that I felt would be a touch of home and comfort,” says the chef.

It also added warmth and texture from another sweet inspiration.

“I like creme brulee, because I like the crunchy sugar crunch when I press into it, and the custard is so soft,” says Love. “With the pound cake, it’s crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside.”

The grilled cake is served with fresh berries and vanilla gelato for dessert, but it also makes an appearance with the maple glazed fried chicken and crispy rosemary potatoes.

Grilled pound cake with berries and ice cream at The SoulFood Lounge.

The restaurant is currently open Wednesday to Friday from 4 to 9 pm for dinner, and at weekends from noon to 8 pm

“We are orders only,” said the chef. “But if someone comes in, and we have room, we definitely wouldn’t turn you away.”

It is part of Love’s mission to increase the understanding and significance of violence prevention.

“When you love your area, when you love your people, then there’s really no need for violence,” he said. “I want people to really understand that this is a love thing.”

3804 W. 16th St., 773-799-0620,

A mother-and-daughter duo opened this cozy coffee shop in April in Hyde Park, next door to the Hyde Park Art Center on the site of the former Bridgeport Coffee group. Drip and espresso coffee, smoothies and teas are available, as well as light Mexican fare such as churros, tamales, elotes and conchas. Reviewers recommend trying a frozen horchata with a shot of espresso.

5020 S. Cornell Ave.,

This Istanbul-inspired restaurant is the Bonhomme Group’s latest offering to the Chicago dining scene, following the likes of Porto, Celeste and Beatnik. Bambola opened in September, and its menu highlights foods along the historic Silk Road with a modern twist. The restaurant is led by chef de cuisine Alisha Elenz – whose work at mfk won the Jean Banchet Award in 2019 – and Bonhomme Group Michelin-starred executive chef Marcos Campos. Bambola includes dishes such as branzino wrapped in banana leaves, and smoked lambchetta, studded with pistachios and raisins.

1402 W. Randolph St., 312-526-3983,

Big Star Mariscos, a branch of Wicker Park taco joint Big Star, opened in West Town on September 27, offering seafood, cocktails and more tacos. Dine on traditional Mexican coastal fare such as ceviche, cocktails and aguachiles, served with coarse, pasta-based tortillas from Tortilleria El Popocatepetl Pilsen, specially crafted to complement the seafood on offer. Cocktails and margaritas – along with an extensive selection of bourbon – are also featured.

551 N. Ogden Ave., 312-521-5169,

Chef Sujan Sarkar, the opening chef of the West Loop’s ROOH, launched fine dining restaurant Indienne on September 28 in River North. Touting a tasting menu (available by reservation only), an a la carte menu, specialty cocktails and a “special” wine selection. Other notable offerings include a traditional tea service, a gin and tonic trolley and tandoor bread.

217 W. Huron St., 312-291-9427,

Bucktown’s Pompette opened this month as an all-day cafe and wine bar from alumni of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alinea, Moody Tongue and Acadia. Inside the former Izakaya Mita location, customers can dine on shareable European-inspired plates such as quiches, burrata, salads and Old World wines, with daytime and lunch menus available.

1960 N. Damen Avenue 773-799-8072,

Sophia Steak’s Lake Forest location opened earlier this month, after first launching in downtown Wilmette in 2020. While steaks are its mainstay, the restaurant also serves seafood, salads, burgers and sandwiches. Like in Wilmette, Lake Forest’s Sophia Steak has a private dining room available for holiday gatherings and dinner parties.

181 E. Laurel Ave., Lake Forest; 847-920-7002;

From the owners of Lardon and Union, this cozy cocktail-forward bar in Logan Square has a rotating menu and opened last week. Her first menu is a testament to birds like her name, with cocktails such as the Red-tailed Hawk, with creme de cassis, Cardamaro and home-made falernum; or the Chicago Pigeon, a piquant gin sipper stacked with hickory smoked Malört, Earl Gray tea and upcycled citrus oil syrup.

2812 W. Palmer St., 773-697-8070,

Valhalla opened at the end of September as the first independent restaurant in Chicago’s Time Out Market, led by SKY and Apolonia chef Stephen Gillanders. Its 11-course a la carte tasting menus feature dishes inspired by food from around the world, from chilled Kusshi oysters with yuzu oil and caviar, to crab arroz caldo. A collection of wine pieces and a few specialty cocktails and desserts are also part of the dining options

916 W. Fulton Market, 2nd floor; 708-222-7971;

Know of a restaurant or bar in the Chicago area that is new and distinctive? Email food critic Louisa Chu at [email protected].

Big screen or stream at home, takeout or dine in, Tribune writers are here to guide you to your next great experience. Sign up for your free weekly Eats. Watching. Do it. circular here.


Source link