A modern mess hall

by Jacqueline Covey

Only hours before opening day at 8 a.m. on Nov. 21, people mindlessly pass the entrance attempting to arrive for the 6 p.m. pre-opening party at TimeOut Market Chicago, 916 W. Fulton Market.

“There’s people inside, it has to be open,” one passerby says to another.

They want to be a part of the group behind the window, receiving wristbands and cards good for a taste of food and drink at Chicago’s newest culinary destination.

The 50,000-square-foot spin-off restaurant of Time Out Chicago magazine, open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., has three levels, 18 kitchens, three bars and a wide-open eating space. Filled with long tables, the center of the market resembles a mess hall, but the “food fights” are via conversation rather than flinging food.

“It’s very full, very cutting edge,” said David Lissner, also known as The Food Dude with Dining Chicago.

Among the first to sit at the high tables, Lissner tasted signature chef John Manion’s grilled oysters. The oysters, $14,  are served with a sweet corn aioli, pimenton hot sauce and potato crumble.

“It’s delicious,” Lissner said, while wishing the restaurant “a lot of good luck.” 

Manion and other house chefs will remain at TimeOut Market for at least a year.

On the top floor, visitors can take a demo class with a visiting chef, a new one each month. 

The mission of the place is “simple” according to its website: “Bring the pages of Time Out Chicago to life with the help of our favorite chefs, the ones who wow us again and again.”

In their own, intimate kitchens the lineup includes: Abe Conlon, Arami, the Art of Pizza, Band of Bohemia, Bill Kim, Brian Fisher, Dos Urban Cantina, Decent Beef, Duck Inn Dogs, FARE, John Manion, Lost Larson, Mini Mott, Pretty Cool Ice Cream, the Purple Pig, Secret Sound, Split-Rail, Sugar Cube and Thai Dang.

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