Le Bouchon owners plan modern French restaurant to replace Michelin-starred Entente in River North

It’s not a surprising announcement, but Entente, the Michelin-starred restaurant run by chef Brian Fisher, will not be reopening in River North. The restaurant has remained closed for much of the start of the pandemic – except for a sporadic delivery service – since March 2020, but owner Ty Fujimura (Arami) was reluctant to formalize the closure.

Instead of a formal announcement, the disappearance of the Entente is final as the space will soon welcome new tenants: Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey, whose parents founded Chicago’s iconic French restaurants La Sardine and Le Bouchon. With their new business, Obelix, the brothers are trying to forge their own path.

Under the leadership of the Poilevey brothers, Le Bouchon continues to please its loyal Bucktown clientele. To the buzz of Le Bouchon, Oliver Poilevey left to open the famous Taqueria Chingón in December 2020 with the help of chefs Sotero Gallego and Marcos Ascencio. With Obelix, Poilevey says he wasn’t looking to open another restaurant, but the Entente owner called him with a deal too good to pass up.

And with this offer, he and his brother came up with the idea for Obelix, a modern French restaurant that will retain some of the dishes served at Bouchon and La Sardine, dishes like French Onion Soup and Stuffed Beef Wellington. with foie gras. But the map now focuses on the next generation of Poilevey. The target opening is early 2022, but this will be affected by hiring. Poilevey says they are looking for potential employees to contact.

“I grew up in Chicago, I opened a Mexican restaurant, so there’s some influence with that,” says Poilevey. “I love Southeast Asian cuisine, so there will be influences. I wouldn’t call it French fusion, just French cuisine through the lens of someone who grew up here.

Poilevey compares what he tries with his menu to music with artists drawing inspiration from musicians of different genres. He mentions how North African cuisine influences the Parisian food scene and compares it to how Mexican culture has influenced American cuisine. This is how Obélix differs from the cuisine of his parents, the late Jean-Claude and Susanne Poilevey.

“We’re always going to have the classics,” says Oliver Poilvey. “But I’m going to bring a more personalized touch to French cuisine. “

The menu will include a section dedicated to duck and foie gras will also be in the spotlight. Poilevey says he’s excited to unveil dishes that mix the sweet and the savory, and there will be fancy seafood tricks. Nicolas Poilevy, curator of Le Bouchon wines, will do the same at Obélix and will take care of the front of the house. The brothers say the wine list will be 98% French with lots of whites and burgundies. They will offer you some Californian servants from small family vineyards.

Oliver Poilevey is enthusiastic about the modern and spacious kitchen he uses. There has never been a room dedicated to dry aging meat and there are four cold rooms. There’s even room to do some prep work for Taqueria Chingón. Being a French brasserie, the space will look part of the game with new burgundy benches. Erin Boone of Boone Interiors takes care of the design. She worked on Elske in West Loop and Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar in Bucktown. But major work was not needed as the Entente, in its second incarnation (the original was at Lakeview), was only open inside the newly constructed space for about a year before the State will not close indoor restaurants in March 2020 due to the novel coronavirus.

Even though the Deal remained closed, the restaurant retained its Michelin star in April when inspectors announced the 2021 ratings. Inspectors said they did not want to penalize restaurants that faced adversity during the period. pandemic. Still, Michelin managed to pull star status away from Kikko, the West Loop restaurant located under the famous Kumiko cocktail bar. Michelin representatives say it was due to a change of chef. Entente owner Fujimura says he wishes Poilevey the best of luck in space, but has made no further comment now that the shutdown is official.

The restaurant is in a sleepy part of River North, away from the tourist traps of Hubbard Street. It’s different from West Loop (where The Sardine has been for 21 years) and Bucktown. Poilevey is determined to break through this part of town. He doesn’t want to limit what he can accomplish, but the goal is not a Michelin star. Offering regulars a spot where they can enjoy a glass of wine and a meal for around $ 50 is, but if the big spenders feel they have a reason to celebrate, Poilevey says the new restaurant will live up to it.

Poilevey says he and his younger brother struggled to come up with a name for the restaurant. An idea germinated when Poilevey mentioned Obelix, a beefy fictional character from the French comic book series Asterix. Obelix, with his insatiable appetite, was the ideal client for Poilevey.

Now that they have a name for the restaurant, maybe it’s time to work on a name for a group of restaurants. Obélix marks the third restaurant of the family: “I don’t know, are we a group? he says. “Maybe? I guess we are.

Obelix, 700 N. Sedgwick Street, scheduled to open from early to mid-January.

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