The chef, who ran the kitchen at Roister from Alinea Group until December 2018, will open Brochu’s in early summer at 1523 W. Chicago Ave. in the former Natalino’s space.
What do you do after leaving your position helming a Michelin-starred kitchen? If you’re chef Andrew Brochu, you get back to your roots.
Brochu, who ran the kitchen at Roister from Alinea Group until December 2018, is working on his first solo project. Brochu’s, which is slated to open in early summer at 1523 W. Chicago Ave. in the former Natalino’s space, will be a casual neighborhood spot taking influences from Brochu’s Southern upbringing. It’ll focus on his two loves: fried chicken and seafood. It will join others on one of Chicago’s hottest best dining strips.
“I love the precision of the high-end scene,” Brochu says. “But once we opened Roister, I was diving deep down and saw what food I love to do. I love having people over for dinner, cooking outside, doing one-pot cooking. It’s like how I grew up with picnic tables with crabs (laid out) on them.”
Brochu’s will start with dinner seven nights a week and weekend brunch, later adding lunch daily. The menu will be casual, with high-end influences with dishes like buttermilk biscuits with foie gras pate and strawberry jam; char-grilled oysters with uni butter and garlic; Brochu’s take on a proper seafood boil; a section devoted to seasonal vegetable dishes; and Brochu’s famous fried chicken sandwich with sunchoke hot sauce, chamomile mayo and pickles. The drink program will feature a “simple and fun cocktail, wine and ice-cold beer,” he says.
Working with designer Erin Boone of Boone Interiors (Elske, Good Fortune), Brochu envisions the 3,400-square-foot space with 90 seats inside to feel like a rustic oyster shack, but with a modern Chicago feel. It’ll have a hodgepodge of found furniture and art and a 20-seat whitewashed wood-topped bar. Brochu said it may have a picnic table in one area, a large round table for larger parties and booth seating. The outside will retain that large signage with the Brochu’s name and windows will be added along the front to open in warmer months. A 50-seat patio will run along the side on Armour Street come summer. Brochu is considering adding a speakeasy-style “dark and dirty” dive bar in the basement.
“I love the idea of an old-school, neighborhood family-run place where we’re cooking soulful food from the heart,” he says. “I’m not looking for the applause from the artistry aspect, but for people to come in and enjoy themselves and the company they’re with.”