A rendering of the main dining room at Travelle (Courtesy of Travelle )
Tim Graham, the former executive chef of Tru and Paris Club, is helming the restaurant at The Langham, Chicago hotel, which is set to open in July.
Located at 330 N. Wabash Ave., Travelle will serve Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in a setting that's more upscale than Paris Club but less fine-dining than Tru, a balance Graham describes as "casual elegance." The space features a backlit wall with a 30-foot digital art display that changes from day to night, four bars arranged in a pinwheel pattern and a mix of custom and vintage seating.
The name and concept were inspired by the building, which was built by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe. Graham said the 1960s design aesthetic made him think back to that decade, when it became common for Americans to travel to the Mediterranean and share their trips with friends and neighbors through slide shows in the their homes. The name combines the word "travel" with Elle, a river in western France.
“It’s a hugely exciting part of the world,” Graham said. "We want to offer that exotic dining traveling experience to guests.”
Graham has been developing some inventive presentations for his dishes including steak tartare that will be served with marrow toast in "bone china" made from a bleached and sanded marrowbone.
He's also working on a new version of plateau de fruits de mer (French for seafood platter) called the Seafood Elevation. The dish will be served on a custom three-legged stand with three bowls nested on it. Servers will replace the plates as you eat, transitioning from oysters to shrimp to lobster and king crab, avoiding the large platter filled with ice typically used for chilled seafood presentations. “The selection will be pretty epic and you don’t end up with a sloppy lake of ice," he said.
Graham will be working with fellow Tru veterans Serge Krieger and Richard Hanauer, who will serve as restaurant manager and wine director, respectively. Hanauer is working on a 30-page wine list and will be helping oenophiles design special dinners in the restaurant's 600-bottle wine room. “Richard and I shared a lot of time in the cellar at Tru," Graham said. "I can’t wait to work with Richard again."
Travelle has a glass-enclosed kitchen, but considering Tru’s frequent kitchen tours, Graham is used to being on display. “You don’t want to build barriers," he said. “I think it’s important to be able to see that energy transfer between kitchen and dining room. I think it’s a mistake calling it back of house and front of house. An expo kitchen really embodies that philosophy.”
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