Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hard-Hat Tour of The Boarding House Uncovers Some Real Gems

The Boarding House's Pork Tots & BBQ sauce, with pulled pork inside. (Photos: The Boarding House)

"I swear we weren't drinking when we came up with them!" exclaimed Alpana Singh about the much buzzed-about Pork Tots & BBQ sauce that's certain to be a hit when The Boarding House opens in mid-October.

She was talking to a roomful of food media types who had come out for a hard-hat tour Wednesday of the four-level venue focusing on global small plates, charcuterie, wine and craft cocktails.

Before the master sommelier/partner led the tour, she first gave us a little history about the building. Apparently it was an actual boarding house operated by women when it was built a couple of years after the Great Chicago Fire.

Here are several more interesting facts to note:

Designers are re-purposing old wine barrels and transforming them into seats and tabletops in the lounge at The Boarding House.

● Executive Chef Christian Gosselin and Executive Sous Chef Bjorn Rasmussen are both skilled mixed martial artists. I wrote about Gosselin when he was executive sous chef at Cafe des Architectes.

● Designers are stringing up thousands of old wine glasses to create chandeliers on the first level. On the third level, they're hooking up a similar ceiling installation of thousands of wine bottles.

● They're also re-purposing old wine barrels for the lounge's bar and barstools.

● A special, all-glass elevator will showcase wines only; guests will be able to see them travel to different levels. Very cool!

● The restaurant is set to open in mid-October, however, the top floor dining room will not be ready for at least another month.

● The food will be inspired by Singh's and Gosselin's travels, from lobster poutine with a sauce Armoricaine to shredded duck confit hash served with red wine poached eggs, sauce BĂ©arnaise and diced potatoes prepared in a court-bouillon.

● Smaller plates will range $6-$12; medium plates $12-$18 and entrees priced $22-$30.

● The subterranean lounge—which was famously dubbed "The Catacombs" when it was Cairo and Club 720—will serve as a craft-cocktail lounge. We got a sneak peek with the Red Wine Margarita that was made with Olmeca reposado tequila. Yum.

● They're considering serving brunch, and Singh says if that happens they'll need televisions for diners to watch the big games.

BONUS: Here's a cool slideshow from GrubStreet Chicago.

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