At 7 a.m. CST this morning, the Boka Restaurant Group officially opened the doors to their 14th Chicago restaurant, Somerset, located adjacent to the brand-new 18-story Viceroy Hotel in the city's booming Gold Coast neighborhood, The Daily Meal can exclusively confirm.
Boka also owns and operates some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants, including Boka, Balena, Girl & The Goat, Duck Duck Goat, GT Prime, GT Fish & Oyster, Momotaro, and Swift & Sons. Lee Wolen, the executive chef at the upscale Boka, also serves as Somerset’s executive chef.
The restaurant, which was designed by AvroKo and built from the ground up, is a soaring space with 45-foot ceilings and a light color palette, with a design that’s meant to evoke high society supper clubs of the 1960s and '70s. It seats 180 people inside and an additional 90 on an outdoor patio, and according to Boka’s co-founder Kevin Boehm, it’s the group’s most ambitious project to date.
“We’ve been coveting this spot for a long time, and started negotiations over five years ago,” Boehm told us. “It’s been three years since we signed the paperwork, and the design has been finished for the past two years.”
Boka has taken on the entire food and beverage program for the striking hotel (which boasts an original façade that was restored brick-by-brick), which means that Somerset is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, with brunch on the weekends. They’re also operating a small bar on the hotel’s mezzanine level, as well as a lounge area by the rooftop pool called Devereaux. Mixologist Lee Zaremba, formerly of Logan Square’s popular Billy Sunday, is the restaurant’s beverage director.
The 35-item menu is designed to offer something for everyone. “The goal is to be more accessible for a lot more people than Boka,” Wolen told us. “We’ll be serving more food that’s geared towards sharing, like smoked beet tartare with flatbread and a crudité platter with 15 vegetables and three dips. We’re also serving pastas, vegetables cooked on a wood-burning grill, five salads, whole fish and chicken for two, and a fried chicken basket.” All in all, dinner for two is expected to clock in at around $80.
“The Gold Coast almost feels like its own city, and it’s home to a wide variety of people,” Boehm concluded. “We want to make people feel like they can come here all the time and discover something new each time they visit.”
Up next for Boka (among several other projects) is The Bellemore, which will be opening later this year in the West Loop with chef Jimmy Papadopoulos at the helm. For a tour of all of Boka’s restaurants, click here.