Steampunk Thursdays at Elate

Elate restaurant in Chicago’s River North neighborhood premiered their new series of “Steampunk Thursdays” on March 22 with superb food from Chef Michael Noll, and featuring local singer/songwriter and rock icon Graham Czach, along with his band the Time Machines

Steampunk fashionFor those who are not “in the know” about the concept of Steampunk, imagine a world planted in the Victorian era, where steam has become the foremost source of energy and Victorian design and fashion ideas rule. Now imagine that one hundred years later (i.e., today), Victorian sensibility still rules and modern technology has blended with modern rock, techno and jazz music.  That’s what Steampunk Thursdays are all about.  You can get a much more detailed lesson on Steampunk online at www.Steampunk.com.  

I had the great pleasure to be invited to attend this opening and it was an evening of intriguing and happy surprises for me. 

Interior of ElateFirst, let’s talk about the venue.  Elate is located at 111 West Huron (on the corner of Clark and Huron) and is the anchor restaurant for the Hotel Felix.  Elate describes itself as, “a casual, yet sophisticated spot serving contemporary American rustic cuisine.”  The restaurant clearly has a focus on sustainability.  Elate’s menus offer organic wine, spirits and fare and the restaurant composts, recycles, and purchases as much local product as possible. The interior features reclaimed wood tables and flooring, high efficiency lighting, eco-friendly paint and 80% recycled drywall. Elate encourages the use of hybrid vehicles by offering those cars complimentary valet parking.

The interior is warm with a sleek, urban-chic feeling.  It’s set up more like a lounge than a “traditional” restaurant, but there are plenty of comfortable areas to sit and enjoy food, cocktails and music.  The lounge area includes a large, communal dining table and there is also a private dining room.  The overall feeling is inviting and sophisticated without any sense of the uptight, arrogant vibe that pervades some of the other “hip urban” spots in that same neighborhood.  This is a place where you can easily drop in for a drink or a meal and feel comfortably welcomed.

Chef Michael NollNext, let’s talk about the superb food.  Chef Michael Noll has crafted a truly stupendous series of menus at Elate featuring locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients wherever possible.  Elate offers breakfast, weekday brunch, weekend brunch, lunch, dinner and a late-night menu.  You don’t want to pass up a chance to try any (or all) of these menus because everything we sampled was excellent.  Of special note (in my mind) were the Smoked Ham & Egg flatbread (with gouda cheese, caramelized onion and truffled potatoes), the P.E.I. mussels (with confit garlic, verjus, pancetta and smoked black grapes), and the Salmon Tartare (with chili, citrus aioli, egg yolk, puffed tapioca).  I could go on and on, but you get the picture.  You can check out Chef Michael Noll’s amazing menus online. 

Finally, let’s talk about the vibe.  The combination of the chic, urban venue with the innovative sounds of Graham Czach and the Time Machines gave the event a perfect mix.  The band has an innovative style where vintage jazz meets modern techno and hip hop – great for dancing or simply listening and enjoying.  The sight of Steampunk fashion was sparse, but there were a few people sporting those fashions and it’s likely that will increase over time.  For those who aren’t Steampunk aficionados don’t be put off in the least by the concept.  Personally, I am about as far from that fashion as possible, but I enjoyed every minute of the evening – great food, good drinks, and enjoyable music.

Graham CzachSteampunk Thursdays will continue each Thursday at Elate from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.  The band will perform sets at 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.  The dinner menu is available until 10 p.m. and guests can order from the bar menu from 10 p.m. until 11 p.m.  

The Steampunk philosophy is about sight as well as sound, so put on your best Steampunk fashions and strut down the aisles of this cool restaurant and bar. If you’re in the know about Steampunk, you’ll love it at Elate on Thursdays.  Even if you’re not in the know about Steampunk, you will love Elate.  If ever there were a “hidden gem” in Chicago, this would be it – but with the amazing food and the inviting vibe, Elate should not be “hidden” much longer.

NOTE: All photos in the gallery that accompanies this post are © Cindy Kurman, Kurman Communications, Inc.  www.Kurman.com


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