WICKER PARK — Machine: engineered dining and drink — a restaurant, bar and flower shop trinity — will open Monday at 1846 W. Division St., reviving a 6,200-square-foot venue left vacant by former contemporary American restaurant Taus Authentic.
Don’t let Machine’s fancy digs and menu fool you. Dinners are around $20. Cocktails range from $12-$14.
In a neighborhood bursting at the seams with fine dining options, Machine will offer guests nostalgic flavors in a playful environment, head mixologist Aneka Saxon said.
“We’re just trying to do things in a less sophisticated and more playful way,” Saxon said. “We’re trying to bring that aesthetic for a different price tag.”
The long-awaited restaurant and bar is the second Chicago-based venture of Machine Hospitality Group, co-owned by Brian Galati and Chireal Jordan.
The group also operates Headquarters Beercade in River North and Headquarters Beercade in Nashville.
Wicker Park was always on the short list of locations for a second Chicago concept, the co-owners said in a press release.
“We have thoughtfully constructed every aspect of Machine, from our ambitious menus to the eclectic design to our warm hospitality to make sure that we become a mainstay for locals and visitors alike,” Galati said.
Inspired by his childhood in the Caribbean, head chef Trevor Hoyte will infuse international flavors, such as tamarind, into classic American dishes.
The “Machine burger,” for example, has a foie gras base and is topped with comte cheese and maitake mushrooms. Braised pig tails are served with hazelnuts and endives. Trout roe (fish eggs) top the Scottish salmon.
Hoyte previously worked in the French-Asian influenced kitchen of Chicago’s AraOn.
While pretty much everything else about Machine will be new to Wicker Park foodies, locals may recognize Saxon from the three years she worked at The Violet Hour, a James Beard-award winning bar at 1520 N. Damen Ave.
The Violet Hour that has produced more than a dozen leaders in Chicago’s food and beverage industry.
Originally from Traverse City, Mich., Saxon described herself as a “green” mixologist — someone who only recently moved to Chicago four years ago.
Taking over the bar at Machine is a huge opportunity for her to unleash her creativity through interactive drinks that let guests play bartender, Saxon said.
Take the rum-based “Breaking Brûlée” cocktail, for example, which Saxon serves with a hammer. Then there’s the “Caged Old Fashioned,” which is topped with spun sugar.
Using a technique called “fat-washing,” Saxon infused goat cheese into liquor. The result is a tart flavor, without a cheesy texture, she said.
And it pairs beautifully, Saxon said, with Hoyte’s carrot tartare, which is served with almonds, black olives and ricotta cheese.
“It’s all meant to go together,” she said.
Brunch will be served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends.
Dinner service begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. The bar will close at 2 a.m. nightly, with the exception of 3 a.m. on Saturdays.
For more information, follow Machine on Twitter @dinemachine or visit dinemachine.com.
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