As longtime fans of the Publican, we were stunned when we heard that chef de cuisine Brian Huston was departing the restaurant after six years to open his own spot in Evanston. He teamed up with Brothers K Coffeehouse’s John Kim, his brother Brady Huston, and friend and attorney Seth Kaplan on Boltwood, which opens tomorrow in the old Lulu’s Dim Sum space (804 Davis St, Evanston).
1. The three-category menu will be heavily influenced by what’s in season.
“There will be a fluid menu that’s constantly rotating and moving around,” Huston says. “The farmers and purveyors will be telling me what to put on the menu. It won’t be me telling them.”
He says that none of the menu categories are explicitly titled, but "the first category could be called a bar menu, starters or snacks,” Huston says. “There will be East and West Coast oysters, a selection of cheeses, marinated olives and peppers, some sort of charcuterie or sausage, like a bratwurst with spring onions and rhubarb.”
The second category is entrée-sized proteins, like Boston mackerel with almond and honey, East Coast halibut with carrots, pepper sweetbreads with rice and adobo chicken with squash. The last section focuses on vegetables, such as crispy potatoes or asparagus, which are portioned as side dishes, and larger dishes, such as pastas and a farro and mushroom dashi, would be considered entrée-sized.
2. They’re trying to keep prices low.
“I want the price point to be in the $20 range for entrees, low teens for vegetables and single digits for those bites.” Huston says. “I want people to come here more than once a month and feel like it can be a special-occasion place, but also a place to just have a beer.”
3. The cocktail menu is simple.
There are just six drinks on the menu, and they range from the house cocktail, a barrel-aged Manhattan, made with Very Old Barton, Cocchi Torino and Cynar to a highball made with CH Distillery Vodka and housemade strawberry soda. Keith Kreuser is responsible for the menu, and they're $10 each.
4. Eventually they’ll add weekend brunch and lunch.
Kim says he expects they’ll start brunch sometime this fall, then ease into weekday lunch.
5. Everything about Boltwood relates to Evanston.
The restaurant is named for the freshman wing at Evanston Township High School, Kim moved to Evanston in the '90s, and the designer, Kara Mann, is an Evanston native, like Huston. "It's a dream come true for me to be back in Evanston," Huston says. "I can cook for friends and family now."
Boltwood opens Thursday at 4:30pm and will be reservations-only until Tuesday. Hours are Sunday, Tuesday–Thursday 4:30–9:30pm, and Friday–Saturday 4:30–10:30pm. It’s closed on Mondays.