Chef Jimmy Papadopolous Previews Bellemore, Chicago’s Newest Restaurant from Boka Group
Boka Restaurant Group runs some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants, including Girl & The Goat, Boka, Balena, GT Prime, and Momotaro, and their next restaurant, Bellemore, is aiming to open its doors later this summer. The Boka team has brought on Jimmy Papadopolous as executive chef, and we asked the 31-year old 2015 Eater Chicago Chef of the Year (who previously helmed River North’s Bohemian House) for what Chicagoans can expect from one of the year’s most anticipated openings. Here’s what he had to say.
“With Bellemore, we are really trying to create a restaurant that defines what a New American Classic can be. The room has soaring ceilings, white marble, and brass accents throughout the space, and feels like a timeless beautiful manor. The flow of the dining room is built around a center service station, if you can imagine beautiful floral arrangements throughout, and plush settees trimmed with wicker. The room is backed by a stunning bar that will tie the timeless, classic vibe of the room together.
“I look at the menu as an opportunity to showcase that New American Classic - I have been coining our cooking as ‘bright, bold, and beautiful.' Obviously cooking with the seasons, but to really create a kitchen that is really cooking. We are building a menu that is built of meat, fish, vegetables, and grains, and are going to have a variety of amazing in-house programs including bread work, sausage-butchery, working with some of the most beautiful fish we can source, pickles and preserves, some fresh house made cheeses, pastas, so on and so on; not only giving our guests an exciting menu that is continually evolving, but also for our team, both front and back of the house, a place where we can continually challenge ourselves to cook and serve from the heart.
“We are targeting a late summer opening, so writing a menu in spring for late summer can be a bit cumbersome, however, some dishes that we are working on is a stunning little snack bite that we’ve dubbed ‘Oyster Pie’: an oyster custard that is set in a savory tart shell and topped with Ossetra caviar, apple, lemon, crème fraiche and a beautiful raw Beausoleil oyster. We have a fun riff on shrimp and grits that showcases beautiful late summer Illinois sweet corn; a smoky, spicy, sauce made with dried shrimp, chiles, and country ham; and local fresh shrimp raised in an unbelievable aquatic farm in Indiana (I know, it sounds insane). Vegetable dishes will be built off of what is available through our Midwestern farmers as well as what we can source once our Midwest growing season is over, whether it’s a beautiful composition of four different varieties of cucumbers dressed with some of our own house cultured buttermilk and topped with smoked sable, raspberries, and almonds, or an amazing expression of late summer shelling beans with smoked dates and molasses built to feel like a bowl of barbecue baked beans. In a nutshell, we really want to capture those rich feelings that connect people after an amazing thoughtful meal, served in a beautiful and unique way.
“In addition to our a la carte dinner menu we are going to offer an affordable five-course tasting menu so our guests have the opportunity to really experience the creativity and beautiful products that we plan to showcase throughout our menu.”