A Swanky French Restaurant Will Replace Ruth’s Chris This Weekend in River North

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New York City-based hospitality brand The Group continues its splashy Chicago expansion with the launch of Parisian brasserie La Grande Boucherie, a restaurant trying to channel the joie de vie of La Belle Epoque-era France parked in the prominent former two-level home of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in River North which has remained vacant for nearly three and a half years.

Poised to open on Saturday, February 17 at 431 N. Dearborn Street, La Grande Boucherie is the second of three new restaurant projects The Group has planned for Chicago. It follows the late 2023 entrance of Olio e Più, a spacious trattoria perched just steps away from its French sister spot, and precedes the unveiling of intimate 10-seat sushi counter Omakase Room projected for the spring. That’s not to be confused with the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises venue inside Sushi-San River North the bears the same name.

Boka Restaurant Group attempted to usher a new age of French dining in River North when it opened Le Select in January 2023, but it closed 10 months later. Now, a new contender has emerged where Ruth’s Chris spent nearly 28 years; it closed in October 2020, mostly due to deflated downtown traffic during the pandemic.

As the opening approaches, here’s five things to know about La Grande Boucherie Chicago:

  • The Group invested around $1.5 million to build and install a new facade for the Dearborn Street building, replacing the steak chain’s unremarkable beige brick with a soaring, scrollwork-gilded stone exterior that’s outfitted with 25-foot windows. Despite the time and cost involved, founder Emil Stefkov feels the juice is well worth the squeeze. “It was a super ugly building that we transformed into a jewel, so I’m very happy [and] very proud of it,” he says. “[It’s] literally another landmark building in Chicago.”
  • At a whopping 10,120 square feet, La Grande Boucherie Chicago is The Group’s largest restaurant, outpacing even the New York original, which seats up to 600 and spans half the length of 6 1/2 Avenue in Manhattan. The massive construction project extended to the building’s interior, where workers gutted the structure to create a grandiose ground floor and mezzanine with curved vaulted ceilings, custom mosaic tile floors, and a century-old French glass mural featuring a scene from a Paris cafe — a collection piece that survived the Nazi bombardment of Paris during World War II.
  • Stefkov and New York-based designer Julien Legeard (Olio e Più) tapped French and Chicago crews to create the restaurant’s most prominent element — a 40-seat, 82-foot-long oval-shaped pewter bar crafted with 200-year-old metalworking techniques. That’s where bartenders will lavish special attention on absinthe, a famed symbol of Parisian decadence, served out of traditional fountains. Drinkers can expect around a dozen varieties of absinthe as well as cocktails starring the so-called Green Fairy, a drink favored by Ernest Hemingway. Even happy hour gets the absinthe treatment, as La Grande aims to resurrect the 18th-century tradition of the green hour.
  • For some local color, the team has brought in Chicago bartender Tim Williams of Pour Souls to design the cocktail and absinthe menus (he also created the drinks for Olio e Più) and partnered with modern Jewish deli Steingold’s of Chicago, which will furnish smoked salmon for La Grande’s menu.
  • The Chicago outpost’s food menu will strongly resemble that of its older sister restaurant with a focus on brasserie classics (think French onion soup and escargot) alongside a raw bar and large cuts of meat including chateaubriand for two and plateu de boucher, a “meat-lovers plate” featuring several cuts that can feed up to four. The Group sources its beef from Idaho’s Snake River Farms and ages it on-site.

Le Grande Boucherie Chicago, 431 N. Dearborn Street, scheduled to open Saturday, February 17, Reservations available via OpenTable.

La Grande Boucherie Chicago

431 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago , IL 60654 (312) 624-3013 Visit Website

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