News & Features

BLT American Brasserie Now Open in River North

December 05 2011 - 7:43 AM

BLT American BrasserieMaybe they're all trying to capitalize on holiday diners and shoppers, but last week was quite a week for restaurants openings. First came Bar Toma, The Slurping Turtle, and Yusho, and on Friday night, Laurent Tourondel's BLT American Brasserie opened unexpectedly. While the project, housed in the former Brasserie Ruhlman space on Superior, had been in the works for some time, it was something of a surprise when the doors finally flung open. So, what can Chicago expect from this NYC import?

The short answer is: A little of everything. Tourondel, the restaurateur behind NYC's BLT Fish, BLT Prime, BLT Burger (yes, he shares Graham Elliot and Tom Collicchio's penchant for brand consistency), wants the brasserie to have "something for every guest, every palate, and every price point." That means an "approachable" menu of salads, sandwiches, pizzettas, sushi, raw bar, and desserts. Tourondel says he imagines BLT Brasserie as the place you choose when you're with a large group of people, as well as a spot you can return to several times a week and never order the same thing. To oversee the diverse menu, Tourondel has appointed Aksel Theilkuhl as chef de cuisine. The name won't sound familiar; he's a Philadelphia chef who's previously worked at other BLT properties on the East Coast.

While it's nice to see a restaurant finally open in the forlornly empty Brasserie Ruhlman space, one has to wonder if the menu isn't based on the "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" philosophy. Successful restaurants like Publican, Urban Belly, heck, even Doughnut Vault, prove that Chicago loves places that pick a focus and execute it flawlessly. Here's hoping an NYC chef can learn that quickly.