Ambria restaurant to return via historic partnership with Lettuce Entertain You and The Alinea Group
Ambria, the iconic French restaurant that closed in 2007 after a 27-year run, is coming back.
In a historic partnership between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and The Alinea Group, Ambria will re-open next year in its original home within the Belden-Stratford building. The project brings together, in the case of the former, the most prolific and successful restaurant chain in Chicago history, and the latter, the home of the internationally renowned Alinea restaurant and recipient of multiple Michelin stars and James Beard Foundation awards.
“I loved that place,” said Alinea partner Nick Kokonas, in a prepared statement. “When Dagmara (his wife) and I were just experiencing fine dining we were always warmly welcomed there, despite being young and on a budget. Nothing like it exists in Chicago anymore … maybe not in America.”
The idea of resurrecting Ambria began four years ago, in a conversation between Kokonas and Lettuce founder Rich Melman. Earlier this year, Lettuce president RJ Melman initiated talks with Kokonas and Alinea chef/partner Grant Achatz.
The Belden-Stratford (2300 N. Lincoln Park West) is about to undergo a major renovation project; accordingly, specifics about Ambria 2020 are scarce.
“There’s a lot of followup questions, and I don’t have a lot of answers,” said RJ Melman. “But I’m super excited.”
In its heyday under chef Gabino Sotelino, Ambria was a grand dining experience, its superior food, service and wines presented in a gorgeous, romantic Art Nouveau dining room. Ambria earned accolades from all corners, including a James Beard award, and a constellation’s worth of critical stars.
Expect the reborn Ambria to be a modernized version, cuisine- and decor-wise, though Melman said the new dining room would contain “nods to the original.” In the same way, Achatz said the menu would pay homage to Ambria’s classic-French cuisine without imitating it.
“We’ll have a few tricks up our sleeves,” Achatz said, “but they will stick firmly to modernizing the very best classical dishes and ingredients.”
Expect Ambria to debut in mid-2020.