New dining option joins the mix in downtown Oak Park

Kitchen + Bar opened Tuesday, filling former Cosi space

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Thirsty moviegoers leaving the Lake Theatre after a late show got a new option on Tuesday.

Lake Street Kitchen + Bar has opened at 1101 Lake St., taking the place of Cosi, which closed in March. Rachel Dennis, a longtime Oak Parker and former Bar Louie exec, plans to serve up a seasonally based food menu, accompanied by a choice of 30 wines or 12 microbrews they have on tap.

Dennis, 39, said she wanted to give Lake Theatre patrons another option for post-movie drinks, other than driving downtown or traipsing over to Madison Street in Forest Park.

"This way, if you parked at the Lake Theatre, you can just cross the street," she said.

They'll stay open seven days a week, serving lunch every day at 11 a.m., and closing at midnight weekdays, and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. If all goes smoothly, they'd like to eventually open a couple of hours earlier on the weekend to serve brunch.

The "American eclectic" menu will make use of seasonal ingredients from local sources, according to the chef, Jason Kurosaki, who most recently worked as head baker at Avec. Offerings include paninis stuffed with pork belly or Nutella and flatbreads topped with chorizo sausage or eggplant. Dennis said they took influences from several countries, hoping to create a "melting pot" menu. Main dishes include half a roasted Amish chicken, or Moroccan-spiced country ribs with apples and parsnips.

"We have a lot of great ethnic restaurants, but not a lot of great global cuisine, where you can get something of everything," she said.

The space, which Dennis said she designed herself, is decked with walnut tables and slate floors and walls. A lengthy bar seats about 22 and offers views of the wood-burning oven or a few TVs adorning the wall (she doesn't want Lake Street Kitchen to be a sports bar). Communal tables have been placed near the front window facing Lake Street, and a chalkboard behind the bar displays the day's specials.

Dennis told Wednesday Journal in July that she was "disappointed" to hear that a burger chain was going to take over this high-traffic corner of Lake and Marion after Cosi restaurant closed. So she contacted the landlord about the space, and when the deal fell through with Johnny Rockets, she took the leap, signing a 10-year lease in May, just before leaving her job with the corporation that owns Bar Louie.

Pat Zubak, executive director of the Downtown Oak Park, hopes Lake Street Kitchen will help add more nightlife to the village's main shopping district. Zubak said she has "high hopes" for the new restaurant.

"The interior build-out is beautiful, and it appears that she knows what is needed here and is responding to it," Zubak said.

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Reader Comments

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beer is good  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 3:52 PM

im going here right after i get off work

Pat from Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 2:54 PM

Cannot wait to try Lake Street Kitchen. But I hate the high top trend - one thing for a bar but very uncomfortable for dining. Also, if you don't want to be a sports bar you shouldn't have put in such a huge bar with televisions. Very distracting when dining.

epic lulz  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 11:02 AM

Those long tables remind me of the prison cafeteria.


Posted: October 12th, 2011 8:43 AM

Shared tables: Carnegie Deli, NY NY


Posted: October 12th, 2011 7:20 AM

Actually, I find the 30-ft tables a draw--OP seems to be about one person hogging a 4-top while tapping away at a laptop. At least this way, if there's room, the table can be shared.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 11:50 PM

Please ignore comment below. I accidentally posted it on the wrong comment page.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 10:57 PM

The village will have a tough time selling the idea that the resident is better off with them. Will be interesting to see what they come up with. Thanks for all the info, Enuf.

Portnoy Fillibrew  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 9:42 PM

What's with the 30ft long tables? Is that some new yuppie trend?


Posted: October 11th, 2011 9:38 PM

Wine $6.50 and up mostly $7 or $8. Tap Beer $5.50 and up. Bottled Beer mostly $5 and $5.50. Martinis $11

High Rent  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 7:46 PM

Did Mr Shaker give you a fair rent/lease? He's know to get some HIGH rents for his properties.

Sophia Lee  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 5:17 PM

I hope Oak Park provides an abundance of complimentary parking. Many people, with money to spend, have left Oak Park to have fun without paying for parking, including parking tickets. Come on Oak Park, step away from greed!

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