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Opening Night Report: Fulton Market Kitchen in the West Loop

On Friday, new West Loop hot spot Fulton Market Kitchen unveiled 6,000 sq. ft. of fine food and bold art. Conceptualized and co-designed by Daniel Alonso (Black Bull), the restaurant and lounge highlight the work of local artists and the cuisine of executive chef James Gottwald (Monti's, Sunda and Rockit) and chef de cuisine Kyle Petersen (Ceres' Table and Naha).

The chefs and bartenders were faced with a unique task: to create menus that hold their own against the vibrant environment. A long black-and-white tiled hallway, exposed-brick walls, concrete facades and a red mural of a woman riding a motorcycle are just some of the bold design elements that greet guests. From there, each of the space's four rooms is more vibrant than the last. One is filled with distressed wood beams and a collection of paintings illuminated by gold chandeliers. Another has a mirrored ceiling reflecting a single long table with plush, high-back chairs. In the rear is a second bar in front of a wall covered in chairs.

To combat the loud decor, Petersen uses as many different colors and textures as possible in his dishes. “It was a challenge designing a menu in the doldrums of winter, but I hope with spring on the way, and with all the vibrancy that comes with it, it will allow me to push even further with different ideas.” For his first evening of service, Petersen said he wanted guests to have fun and to be surprised. Dishes on the starter portion of the menu, called "first canvas," include bay scallops and sweetbreads with crispy lemon, spiced tobiko and truffle aïoli. One of Petersen’s favorites from the larger options is the corvine with spring vegetables, pistou and lemongrass-tomato broth.

We stopped in on opening night (as did Blackhawks' captain Jonathan Toews, after scoring the game-winning goal) to get a look at the food, the crowd and, of course, the art. Below are some first-night stats.

-Sarah Freeman

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