Two New Restaurant Redesigns You Need to Know About
In wildly different parts of the city, two of Chicago’s most enduring restaurants recently underwent extensive makeovers and emerged with fresh new looks and new menus. In the Art Institute of Chicago, Terzo Piano got a facelift that made the restaurant as gorgeous as the museum’s world-famous artwork, while in West Town, Ruxbin opted for refinement over its timeworn eclectic funk. Here’s everything you need to know about Chicago’s spiffiest redesigned restaurants.
Located in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tony Mantuano’s Terzo Piano has a lot of expectations to live up to. Thanks to a recent revamp from Dirk Denison Architectes, those expectations have been wildly exceeded. The firm served as the restaurant’s original architect, so it only made sense to bring them back for the remodel and help evolve the property. They really went above and beyond, too, adding a stunning sheen to an already immaculate restaurant. A new reception area greets guests, outfitted with a long white marble bar and a backdrop of slate gray walls, white benches with gray leather, translucent tables and plum stools lining the bar. As thoroughly pristine as the new dining room is, it also serves as a clean blank canvas for the food. It’s a similar philosophy to the art in the museum, wherein the food shines brightest against a muted color palate. Mantuano recently appointed Carolina Diaz as chef de cuisine, cooking up new menu items maximizing the best ingredients from local farms and giving them a Mediterranean accent. She’s putting more of an emphasis on tartines, housemade pastas and entrees, like a rich cocoa pappardelle with lamb ragu and saffron butter and a triple-cream brie tartine with hearty multi-grain toast, Bosc pears, arugula, pear mostarda and red onion vinaigrette.
Previously known for its eclectic hodgepodge design, one that included repurposed seat belts as wall decor and an infamous revolving door bathroom, Ruxbin’s redesign echoes the evolution of its menu. Nowadays, with chef Edward Kim overseeing elaborate and inspired tasting menus, the team wanted to outfit the restaurant to reflect that. They brought on Gil Merlott of Studio6F to update the dining room with soft neutral colors and ample use of marble, stone and wood to give the space the feel of a bucolic barn. Ruxbin 2.0 features 40 seats, including a black wood banquette and an intimate chef’s table on the second level. To match, Kim oversees an ever-changing menu of unique seasonally driven dishes. Current creations include a hearty and heady carrot steak with onion ash, black pepper honey, goat’s milk tahini and cashew cheese; and a rich, dark plate of venison with roasted rutabaga, kimchi sauerkraut, bacon shallot jam and juniper port reduction.