Every shiny new skyscraper needs at least one restaurant for office workers who will hopefully fill the space. The BMO Tower, which debuted last year with the bank as its anchor tenant, is no exception. The 50-story building, just south of Union Station in West Loop, has already unveiled a take-out market. The 11,000-square-foot project is part of Canal Street Market, which this week will unveil a full-service, 120-seat Italian restaurant to complement its food and beverage offering. It’s called the Restaurant.
“The food is familiar and the price is impressive,” says Laine Peterson, operations manager. “It’s a place where you can come several times a week and not feel guilty about breaking the bank.”
Peterson is also in charge of wine and beer selections. Adult drinks will take center stage in September when another component, Afterbar, opens. There is a park open to the public near the space, and the bar will have a 42-seat patio. The market will be providing canned wine (sorry, glass is not allowed outside) and charcuterie boards so customers can enjoy the outdoor space. Morning pastries come from Zachary Dawson who bakes treats including a Saigon cinnamon bun with cream cheese frosting. Executive Forster Sorensen raves about a lemon sugar cookie that uses citric acid, giving it the same pucker as a Sour Patch Kid. The coffee comes from Hexe and Brewpoint. The project is from Spearhead Hospitality, owners of the Robey Hotel in Wicker Park and the recently closed Chikatana Mexican restaurant in Fulton Market. The space is developed by Riverside and Convexity Properties and designed by Goettsch Partners.
Sorenesn has worked for several Chicago restaurants over the course of his career, and he uses a few tricks he learned at Public Quality Meats, the Fulton Market restaurant known for its sausages. Canal Street will make its own sausages and charcuterie, and Sorensen has selected fresh turkey sausages, which will pair well for breakfast with Dawson’s English muffins. The breakfast sausage uses maple crystals from gourmet ingredient supplier Rare Tea Cellar to give it a little extra sweetness. Fresh bread will serve as bookends for sandwiches like Cubans and Buffalo chicken varieties.
While the mornings and afternoons are laid back, dinner time is full service and Dawson also plays a major role there. Fresh pasta will be on the plate and possibly on sale for the market-side home cook, and Dawson’s experience at Tortello, the pasta restaurant in Wicker Park, will come in handy. The Italian restaurant is more of a red-sauce American spot, and it doesn’t gravitate to any specific region either. Sorensen works with head chef Ross Sundberg. Sorensen says a cacio e pepe made with mafaldine and candied tomatoes will be a standout, as will a calamarata with grilled prawns.
Lunch time will include made-to-order items and foods, like Neapolitan pizzas or pre-made salads that can get workers in and out quickly. Sorensen says they don’t sacrifice quality for speed, and the morning prep time is a bit more laborious to compensate. For example, their version of the pepperoni pizza uses sopressata as a topping, but they julienne the pepperoni in the tomato sauce to add flavor.
“There is so much work in the preparation, everything takes a little less time on the line,” says Sorensen.
Take a tour below.
Canal Street Marketat 320 South Canal Building, 320 S. Canal Street, restaurant opening Thursday, August 25. Open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays