Maybe the ampersand name had us expecting something intimate and pubby. In any case, we weren't expecting something so big, and big city-glamorous. Baume & Brix seats 200 people in the space at 351 W. Hubbard which was most recently Rumba (and which historians of the absurd such as ourselves remember, two decades ago, as Steven Seagal's Restaurant). That's a big restaurant— it's about a Girl and the Goat and a half— and it's hard for any space that big, no matter how glamorous, to not feel a little like a cafeteria. But the design successfully breaks it up into a variety of spaces with different tones; there's a place for everyone here.
The food, meanwhile, from three Moto/iNG veterans, Thomas Bowman, Ben Roche, and Nate Park, breaks the menu up into Explore (small plates), Summit (entrees), Conquer (dessert) and Divide (large-scale shared items which need to be ordered in advance). The aim is for all regular dishes to be under $25. From the small sample (one from each) we saw last night, they're taking a Moto-level playfulness and applying it to all sizes and types of dishes, with a strong emphasis on the juxtaposition of sweet and savory— which is where the name comes from, baume and brix both being measures of sweetness and saltiness most generally used in brewing and winemaking. It opens next Tuesday; here's a look inside the almost-completed space.