Inside the New Gilt Bar

River North restaurant officially opens Friday

Brendan Sodikoff wants to bring the fun back to the restaurant experience.

The owner and executive chef of the highly-anticipated Gilt Bar, which officially opens on Friday, has an extensive background in fine dining, but when he started planning his own River North resto (230 W Kinzie), he decided to go for a more accessible experience.

"Everyone's tired of the high prices and wants great drinks, great beer, and good food, so that's what we're doing," Sodikoff says.

Those great drinks can range from a $2 PBR to a hand-crafted cocktail made with the only vodka you can find on the menu -- a local organic brand called Death's Door that Sodikoff says he felt "inspired" by.

Which goes to show that he isn't afraid to go against the grain when it comes to his vision for Gilt. The interior is a mismatch of "found" and often re-used items spread throughout a front area that seats 45, and a dining area for 75.

The menu includes foodie-type dishes such as toasted bread served with roasted bone marrow with red onion jam and coarse salt, to simpler preparations like the chicken with oregeno, espellette pepper and roasted garlic. Much of the of the food is prepared in a wood-fired oven, creating a charred, smoky and rustic look that Sodikoff calls "best ugly."

"I like this kind of look. I think it suits the space and suits the times," says Sodikoff, who has worked with a number of world-renowned chefs in his career.

With its prime location and new kid on the block status, it's not hard to see Gilt becoming the latest social late-night destination. Sodikoff would love to see things pick up between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

"We want it to be fun, we want it to be social, we want people in here late, all those things. However we do that, we'll just keep changing it until that works for us," Sodikoff says.

Gilt Bar, 230 W Kinzie, 312-464-9544

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