We were more than a little surprised (not to mention suddenly and deeply depressed) when this missive from Aigre Doux publicist Heather Bandura popped into our inbox moments ago:
It is with heartfelt sadness that Aigre Doux Restaurant - the River North restaurant owned by famed husband and wife cooking duo Mohammad Islam and Malika Ameen - will be closing its doors immediately. After much soul searching, especially following suffering the devastating loss of Malika’s father this past spring, Malika and Mohammad have decided to refocus their energy on their family, which includes their three young boys.
While we can never fault anyone choosing to spend more time with their family, this is a bit sudden as far as this kind of announcement goes — it seems likely there's more at play than the press release reveals. For such a high-profile, critically acclaimed restaurant, the list of reasons narrows: financial concerns seem most likely, whether it's an economy-induced customer slowdown or something deeper. A call to the restaurant confirms that they've been closed since Saturday, but this morning Chef Malika appeared on ABC with no mention of anything at all.
Whatever the story, Aigre Doux's accessible, seasonal French-inflected New American cuisine — not to mention the owners' uncanny ability to merge high-end dining with a real sense of personality and independent spirit — will be sorely missed. (Not least by Phil Vettel, who included the restaurant on his must-visit list, and the International Olympic Committee, who dined there on their last Chicago visit.) Here's the rest of the statement:
After 2 1/2 amazing years in Chicago, with accolades including Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, CitySearch, TimeOut Chicago, Metromix, Bon Appetit and DailyCandy, Malika and Mohammad don’t have any specific plans, other than knowing that cooking is forever in their blood and will always be a part of their lives.
Known for her delicious pastry creations and signature Sticky Toffee Pudding, Malika will be available for custom cakes, pastries and catering. She can be reached at 312-643-2721 or email@example.com.
Malika will continue to chronicle her and Mohammad’s daily adventure of balancing parenthood and their life as award-winning chefs - as well as the daily ritual of feeding their three young boys - on Twitter at twitter.com/aigredoux.
Most of all, Mohammad and Malika are forever grateful to their loyal fans and press who helped them introduce their unique global Midwest cuisine to the local Chicago scene. They promise to chronicle their new adventures and keep everyone updated on where they land via Twitter.