A building that has sat empty for years is finally being transformed. What used to be the London Guarantee and Accident Company building and a world famous jazz club, is now being restored into LondonHouse Chicago Hotel. I already know it's going to be wildly popular, one look at the rooftop cupola got me hearing wedding bells... It was exciting to take an extensive tour with the architect of the project and to hear his plans and vision for the hotel. It is clear to see that they are taking great care to keep the original structures integrity. Stay tuned for an update in the coming months as the hotel nears its completion!
Oak + Char may be simply named, but that is where the simplicity stops. I had the opportunity to tour and photograph the space for Eater Chicago prior to its opening, and whether you're rating the restaurant on its design/atmosphere or by the culinary output and experience of its staff, its most definitely a place to experience. I appreciated the detailed work that went into the construction, and the great organizational apparatus behind the restaurant in MBL Hospitality and Grapevine PR. Be sure to check out the entire article at Eater Chicago!
"Community Through Food". This is the mantra of The Kitchen, a Boulder-based restaurant group and charity focusing on community wellness through food. Just a few steps into The Kitchen's first midwest location in the historic Ried Murdoch building on the banks of the Chicago River, you can feel the mission-focused atmosphere. It certainly wouldn't be fair to reduce this feeling simply to strong branding, its much more a sense of purpose. Purpose in the creation of over 100 community learning gardens at schools across Chicago, and educational programs to encourage healthy eating and home cooking. I'm looking forward to trying some of the great dishes crafted by former Telegraph chef Johnny Anderes, especially their Monday night family-style community dinner benefitting The Kitchen Community. Be sure to check out all of Eater Chicago's coverage of The Kitchen Chicago here!
Catalyst; a person or thing that precipitates an event. While Marquette Companies' new development in the West Loop may not have precipitated the West Loop boom, it is most definitely entering the luxury apartment market at the right time. The 19-story tower designed by Brininstool + Lynch sports 223 units, and stands out in my mind for its clean furnishings and consistent design concept. I had a chance to take a tour last week and make some images for Curbed Chicago, be sure to check out their great coverage!
In search of a straight-to-business high end burger joint in Wicker Park? The quest is over. Los Angeles based Umami Burger is now open to the public on Milwaukee Ave. The wildly popular chain has expanded from coast-to-coast and now has a foot in the Midwest market. First up on my list is the "Truffle Burger" with truffle a aioli, cheese, and glaze. Be sure to check out the full coverage on Eater Chicago!
Walk into Yusho Hyde Park on the slightly quieter end of rapidly developing 53rd Street, and you can immediately tell this bold and colorful little space is going to pack a serious punch. Chef Matthias Merges (Charlie Trotter's Executive Chef of 14 years) has taken the "yakatori-inspired" restaurant from Logan Square to Las Vegas, and his newest Yusho outpost is now open to the public. I've been finding myself making the trip down to Hyde Park much more often as of late (check out my previous coverage of Promontory), and I can't wait to try the "Japanese Loaded Fries w/Bacon & Kimchee Gravy!
"We call it toast, because it is toast. You won't see us calling them tartines or anything like that." It may seem like semantics, but Dave Miller's simple distinction eloquently captures the new approach of the Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse in Lincoln Square. Dave & Megan Miller came to fame with the founding their Logan Square landmark, Bang Bang Pie. After 4 years of meteoric growth, the Millers found themselves looking to move back to the basics. Enter the Baker Miller concept. Dave and Megan will be hands-on throughout the entire baking process, from milling their own wheat to hand-rolling oats. In just the few menu items that I had the opportunity to speak with Millers about and photograph, one could tell that they were carefully crafted and more importantly created by someone having fun doing what they love. Baker Miller will be opening its doors to the public on September 22nd, and I will surely be making many trips over to Lincoln Square to get my baked good fix! Make sure to check out all the coverage on Eater as well!
Roasted Capon Chicken Grain Bowl. Seasonal grains with pickled carrots and greens. The Millers searched extensively for a source for this particular type of heritage chicken while developing this dish.
Three of the Miller's amazing toast offerings. At left: Nova Lox (pickled in beet juice) with House-Made Chevre. At right: Prosciutto & Poached Egg with House-Made Chevre and Dandelion Greens. Below: Radish & Poached Egg Toast with House-Made Chevre, Kale, and Blake Flake Salt.
Popovers, Whole Wheat Cookies, and Hand Pies. Oh My!
Vegans can definitely be happy about this next point. After careful experimentation, the Millers were able to re-formulate their pie crust recipe without lard! As you can see below in their classic apple pie, not a single bit of the golden-brown flaky goodness was lost either.
In my mind, collaboration is one of the best things you can do both creatively and professionally. Working together with others can teach you so many different things. It can show you the way other people think and solve problems, as well as teach you how to let others use their strengths in tandem with your own in order to make the final product that much better. Easy to overlook (or ignore) is also the way in which collaboration can give you greater context on your thought process and methodology.
Even with the slightest understanding of these things I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Erica Bull, my beautifully talented girlfriend, by photographing some new styles for the Mulberry & Me blog. Normally my portraits are centered around stories and personalities with my wedding and editorial work, so it was fun to intertwine that approach while also highlighting the specific pieces the boutique is carrying (and how they fit together). We had a lot of fun on the small stretch of Division outside of the boutique, and I quite enjoyed seeing Erica's goofy personality peeking out during the shoot.
Looking forward to continuing to expand my horizons stylistically, as well as examining and embracing collaboration as a way to create even bigger and better things!
Taco aficionados rejoice! Bar Takito is expanding upon Takito Kitchen, its Wicker Park sister restaurant, in the Fulton Market neighborhood of the West Loop. Adding to the veritable restaurant boom that is happening in the area, Bar Takito will offer a bright and colorful dining alternative. Having just sampled my first tacos at Takito Kitchen a couple of days ago (Oxtail Tacos with an amazing fresh corn salsa), I'm really excited to give this new place a try! Even while completely empty, the space on Morgan St. was uplifting and fun to be in. I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere when it is buzzing with diners too. Be sure to check out the whole article from Eater Chicago here!
London, New York, Berlin, Toronto, Miami, Hollywood, and now Chicago. Soho House, a private member's club for those in the film, media, and creative industries, has just opened the doors to its newest "house" in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood. I photographed the site for Curbed Chicago back in March when there was still scaffolding on the facade and plenty of snow on the ground, so spending some time documenting the nearly completed space on a sunny August day was a treat. Check out the full article here!
As to be expected, especially at the $2,000 price point for membership, the design and furnishings inside the Allis Building (formerly a factory building producing rubber belts) were gorgeous. My favorite part about the space though was the subtle use of the wood behind the front desk and around the elevator bay. The wood came from the water tower that used to sit on top of the building, and if you look closely you can still see some of the original lettering!
The lobby/lounge space, although a bit narrow, was soaked in beautiful bright light. I could definitely see it as a nice place to do some work and have a cup of coffee, cocktail, or small bite to eat. This space, as well as the Soho House's two restaurants Chicken Shop and Pizza East, are all open to the public.
The Soho House will be adding 40 hotel rooms to the West Loop marketplace. The rooms, available in three sizes (small, medium, and medium-plus) are available to the public starting at $240 a night. The space pictured below is a medium-plus, and felt quite spacious. The furnishings were nice and very consistent with the style of the lobby/lounge.
I love getting the opportunity to work with clients on an ongoing basis. This type of partnership is gratifying on both a creative and personal level. Such was the case when I was introduced to the awesome people at Ranquist Development during a tour of FlexHouse2, their exciting new project in Logan Square.
Designed by ISA Architecture/Research, this 31-unit development represents a big change for the Logan Square neighborhood. It's evident that Ranquist knew the market for FlexHouse2 quite well as it is already half occupied in its first phase of construction! The philosophy behind the project is to offer high quality models with contemporary floor plans that offer a unique and open feel, at price points that are affordable to a wider group of Chicagoans.
I was thrilled to hear that Ranquist wanted to partner to create some bold imagery of the front facade of the first phase of FlexHouse2. They had a great vision of the type of images that they wanted, so I had a wonderful time spending an afternoon and evening bringing those ideas to life. Honestly, it was hard to take a bad photograph of the many different lines and materials that comprise the front elevation.
Keep an eye out on the blog in the coming months for what will surely be a much more extensive look at both the exterior and interiors of FlexHouse2 at the second and third phases are completed!
Longman & Eagle, The Empty Bottle, Duseks, Thalia Hall, Punch House, Beauty Bar, and the list goes on. Chicago bar and restauranteur Bruce Finkelman, along with his partners Craig Golden and Chef Jared Wentworth, can now add The Promontory to their growing list of awesome places to eat/drink/hang out in Chicago. I had the great opportunity to spend some time taking a tour with Bruce, and photograph the space for Eater Chicago. Make sure to check out the whole article here!
Right off the bat stepping into The Promontory, you can see what elements were most important in the minds of Finkelman, Golden, and Wentworth when designing the space. Humongous tall ceilings with a front facade that slides almost entirely open gives this place a serious open-air feel (not to mention the huge amount of actual outdoor patio seating). You're greeted not only with a full bar teeming with fresh herbs and fruit, but also with the campfire-like smell of the hearth cooking. It was a combination of senses that really made you want to pull up a chair and hang out, and of course then stuff your face with amazing food and drinks.
Its incredibly important as a photographer to be able to taste the cocktails your shooting in order to be able to capture the full experience ;-) I'm glad Dustin Drankiewicz, Promontory's Mixologist extraordinaire, agreed! The two cocktails pictured are the "Thursdays on 53rd" and the "Promontory Paloma", and they were as delicious as they look. If you're into cocktails I'd highly recommend a trip down to Hyde Park to make your way through this incredibly creative drink menu.
A kick-ass restaurant and cocktail bar not quite enough for you? How about an entire floor as a live music venue? It wasn't totally finished when I got the tour, but it definitely seems like it is going to be a unique spot to see a show. I'll be excited to see what the show lineups will be when they're announced.