We were just talking about how rapidly the 1400 block of South Michigan was turning into a restaurant row, with Wednesday's opening of Square One, and now comes another new opening, Alain's, the long-awaited restaurant backed by Chicago Bear Israel Idonije, at 1355 S. Michigan. Tonight's actually a soft opening by reservation only, as you might expect for a place with a sports star attached, so don't try it tonight, but maybe by tomorrow it will be open to the world— and if it isn't, hey, there's plenty of other new places to try on that block. Information remains vague, the Alain's website is an exercise in unsatisfied clicking, so we don't really know any more about it than we did in announcements from some months back, which is that Chef Alain Njike was born in Cameroon, trained in Paris, and has a resume including Charlie Trotter's, NoMI and Park 52, and the food will somehow blend those and Southern soul food influences. (Redeye had an interview with the chef once, but it no longer seems to exist.) We're pretty sure there's never been any such thing as "upscale African" in Chicago before, and upscale soul food likewise is a rare bird, so count us curious to see what this turns out to be. UPDATE: Information was notably lacking (when not contradictory) when we published this item this morning, and Time Out Chicago stated on Twitter that the restaurant was not African or Southern but straightforward "contemporary American"; since then Thrillist has published a sort of menu, which is not in any way African and seems, in fact, fairly generic. Consider our curiosity dimmed.
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