A playful new two-level restaurant is coming this summer to Randolph Restaurant Row, Chicago’s well-known dining drag in the West Loop. Hide + Seek, a Mediterranean-influenced new American spot with a management team that includes Prysm nightclub co-owner Nick Karounos, is scheduled to open this summer at 838 W. Randolph Street. The space, tucked between Bar Sienna and a forthcoming outpost of the cult East Coast bakery Levain, was most recently occupied by pop-up Nosh & Booze, and previously housed Vivo for a quarter century.
As Chicagoans, and Americans at large, shift into a new phase of the pandemic, restaurants are among the many industries attempting to straddle a culture shifting away from formality with a return to public life. Hide + Seek counts itself among those seeking to ride that fence, balancing an upscale experience sans fussy trappings.
“The whole concept [of Hide + Seek] is about playing up the idea of comfortable elegance,” says Danny Vargas, a partner in the new restaurant group KVP that owns Hide + Seek. “We wanted to find the right balance. There’s nothing pretentious, no white tablecloths.”
Instead, the restaurant will feature a dinner menu from chef Michael Lanzerotte (White Oak Tavern, Saint Lou’s Assembly) that ranges from small plates, such as malfatti in ’nduja butter sauce, alongside larger, sharable portions with luxurious ingredients, like a 60-day dry-aged ribeye and Dover sole. The team plans to add weekend brunches a month or so after the opening.
Lanzerotte also played a significant role designing the drink selections, Vargas says, with the goal of reinterpreting classic cocktails in a way that will compliment the food. There will be options like the Raspberry Beret, a riff on the Clover Club, and an array of four Negronis. “We see it as one cohesive approach,” says Vargas. “You’re drinking and eating, and everything flows well together.”
Operators brought in the popular Chicago firm Siren Betty Design, known for work on many local hospitality projects including Giant in Logan Square and Claudia in Bucktown, to hone Hide + Seek’s aesthetics across two 1,400-square-foot floors. The dining rooms, which collectively seat 100, will contrast boldly patterned upholstered furniture against exposed brick walls, as well as pop-culture laden artwork, an Italian calacatta marble bar, and pendulous feather chandeliers.
Some West Loop residents on Facebook have expressed concern that the Hide + Seek could become another Bottled Blonde — the controversial River North bar closed in 2020 and whose name has become a catch-all term for unruly venues that cause problems for neighbors. Posters’ fears were spurred in part by Karounos’s background in nightlife ownership, though he had no relationship to Bottled Blonde.
Vargas hopes to set worried locals at ease by stating conclusively that history will not repeat itself. “This is a restaurant venue,” he says. “It is definitely not a club. If I was building a club, I would find a much larger space.”
Hide + Seek, 838 W. Randolph Street, Scheduled to open this summer.