Inside Fulton Market’s Flowery French Streetside Bar Where Fondue Rules

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For a city that loves bars as much as Chicago, seeing more bars open is not only a sign of warmer weather, but also a sign of pandemic recovery. Bar La Rue, the new venue opening this week on the ground floor of the new 800 Fulton Market tower at the northwest corner of Halsted and Fulton, provides a shining example.

The entrance lies west of the intersection at the corner of Green and Fulton, around the corner from DineAmic Hospitality Group’s French restaurant, which opened in March — La Serre. But Bar La Rue is a bit more casual. There are huge windows ideal for people watching as characters make their way up and down Fulton. The customer video displays blend into the aesthetic.

But what sticks out in the decor, meant to evoke a French streetside bar are the flowers. So many faux flowers. They’re hanging from the ceiling. They’re on the wall. Chicago’s climate is far from tropical and flowers aren’t cheap, so it’s understandable. There is a newly planted real tree growing outside the door. Come wintertime, Bar La Rue’s colorful bouquets, real or not, may provide an escape from Chicago’s wintry mix. DineAmic founders David Rekhson and Lucas Stoioff say brunch will also eventually play a big part in the space’s plans.

Bar La Rue’s flatscreen
Bar La Rue occupies 3,000 square feet.

Even more remarkable than the botany is another passion for Rekhson — fondue: “When is it not a good time to dip something in cheese?” he says.

“In the last two years, he’s been very pumped about that,” Stoioff adds.

Sharing cauldrons of hot and bubbly cheese was another pandemic no-no. DineAmic staffers and Stoioff know how worked up Rekhson can get, talking about how hard the culinary staff has worked on perfecting their cheese blend: “It’s got this perfect, you know, the perfect garlic kind of fragrance that first coats the bowl and a really nice blend of kind of gruyere and sharp cheddar,” Rekhson gushes. “It’s just… it’s creamy.”

Beyond the fondue, Bar La Rue’s menu sports “bougie chicken tenders.” It comes with a creme fraiche ranch which melds Midwest and French sensibilities with a scoop of caviar. A server wearing white gloves will present the tenders to the table. A smash burger on brioche made with beef from Slagel Family Farms arrives in a bowl of melted cheese for dipping. There are also kale and apple salad with French feta and a champagne vinaigrette. Their version of a Caesar salad comes with British croutons.

The cocktails are light, a blend of French classics and patio pounders with drinks like a French martini with fresh chamomile and blackberry and a rum punch. Visitors will find a DJ booth, a hallmark of DineAmic’s projects, hidden in plain sight. Late-night food service, perhaps until midnight — is upcoming. They’ll slowly extend hours depending on demand: “As the night goes on, you know being on a very busy corner, we’ll see this cocktail forward, heavy, indoor-outdoor bar space unfold,” Stoioff says.

Walk through the space below.

Bar La Rue, 820 W. Fulton Street, opening Thursday, April 18, hours are 11:30 a.m. to midnight on Monday through Thursday; 11:30 am. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; 5 p.m. on Sunday with weekend brunch coming soon at 11 a.m.

Not everything comes with melted cheese.
Yes, that’s a smash burger in a bowl of melted cheese.

The lobster roll is also meant to be a highlight.
Rum Punch

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