There's something big brewing at the Museum of Contemporary Art. And no, it's not a new exhibit (though, if you haven't already, you should make time to see “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg”). On Thursday, the museum debuted the fruits of a $16 million renovation, resulting in new public spaces and Marisol, the highly anticipated restaurant helmed by Lula Cafe chef-owner Jason Hammel. The space will serve coffee and pastries, light lunch options, dinner, dessert, cocktails, wine and a robust selection of vermouth. The menu here is inspired by French-Venezuelan artist Maria Sol Escobar, whose sculpture Six Women was the first work in the MCA's contemporary collection.
Hammel, whose career is marked by his close relationships with Midwestern farmers, says the menu will change often to reflect the super seasonal goodies he's able to find at the farmers' market. The debut roster includes plates like heirloom tomatoes with salmon roe and nasturtium (an edible flower), fried quail with cashew butter and smoked date honey and smoked octopus with saffron chips. Pastry Chef Alison Cates (Honey's) crafted an equally tantalizing dessert menu, with a blackberry-studded sunflower tart, tres leches with coconut and squash and a chocolate namaleka with almond, cherry and noyaux.
The space, which is centered by a long marble bar, is outfitted in wildly colorful furniture (think yellow, magenta and teal) and a massive mural from British artist Chris Ofili. Looking around the room, you'll spot his work everywhere—from the black and white drawings on the walls to the beautiful etchings on the windows.
“This is not simply putting work from the collection on our walls,” says Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker director at the MCA. “This is a full-scale, all-in, immersive art environment that surrounds you when you enter into the restaurant, for which Ofili has decided on every surface.”
Here's a closer look at the space and several menu items at Marisol, which is now open at the MCA.