Sneak Attack Opening: Celeste Lands in River North

In December, Beyonce abruptly dropped her "surprise" album without any advance warning or fanfare. On February 3, a new restaurant called Celeste basically did the same thing in River North. I like surprises. Unlike every other restaurant in town, badgered to death with pre-opening hype, Celeste quietly and discreetly opened its doors in one of the most bustling 'hoods in Chicago. With a name that means "heavenly" and symbolizes mystique and intrigue, it's fitting that such an alluring question mark would make a subtle debut.



Celeste is an American drinking destination located in a historic building erected in 1888 as a glass factory. Glass-making may be done, but today Celeste makes good use of glass in the form of traditionally inspired, science-influenced cocktails. The multi-level space harkens to the original factory facade, instated by Denkmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. The industrial, lavish feel of Celeste recalls an era of bygone glamor, replete with a tiled first floor, iron detailing, monogrammed glass walls, and a second floor that pays homage to the Art Deco movement via gold leaf ceilings and marble. You'd half expect Gatsby to host a party here.

The first floor is all about the cocktails, concocted by a team of bartenders with a nod to the past and a proclivity for varied spirits. Upstairs is a supper club and lounge, adjoined by a sommelier-selected wine list and an array of craft beers. Food is designed to be paired with cocktails, available in small bites, entrees, or late-night snacks.

- Matt Kirouac