Chef Tim McKee dishes on his new Uptown restaurant, Libertine

LibertinePorkChopSized.jpg
Photo courtesy of Libertine
Uptown's newest restaurant, Libertine, to open its doors on July 16
If the past few years have seen a boom in the North Loop's dining options, this year might be Uptown's time to shine. And with restaurants like Coup d'Etat and Hammer & Sickle, plus nearby World Street Kitchen and the newly opened Heyday, it's no surprise that the big dog himself, James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee, has set his sights on launching his newest concept, Libertine, right smack in the middle of it all.

McKee, who is best known for his prized fine-dining restaurant La Belle Vie, has been consulting with Parasole Restaurant Holdings for a while, and this new concept will take shape in what was once Uptown Cafeteria. The new concept is designed to better suit the maturing neighborhood, and we had a chance to chat with McKee himself about what exactly Libertine will be bringing into the mix.

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LibertineSteakSized.jpg
Photo courtesy of Libertine
Libertine will focus on lesser known cuts of meat, but will have plenty of veggie options
Hot Dish: Can you start by telling us what Libertine is all about?

Tim McKee: Well, I really wanted to create a place that is as much a bar as it is a restaurant. Johnny Michaels is helping me on the cocktail program. We're getting a couple barrels of whiskey and we'll have a nice American whiskey list. Craft beers will have a real strong prominence and we'll have a few ciders on tap. We'll also have a variety of less expensive options like cans, smaller cocktails, and $3 whiskey shots and things like that.

As far as the food goes, we've been hearing that Libertine will be along the lines of a steakhouse. Is that accurate?

You know, that's kind of the way it's been characterized, but I wouldn't really say it's a steakhouse. We'll specialize in more or less forgotten cuts of meat. There's as many beef varieties as there are pork or lamb, so it really doesn't fit what you'd expect from a steakhouse. That said, it is meat-centric and you'll be able to get a lot of different kinds of cuts that you can't really find anymore.

Are those lesser known cuts an attempt to keep prices down?

Well, there's two things that you accomplish by going for lesser known cuts of meat. Number one, my drive is always for flavor and these are some of the most flavorful cuts of meat there are. The other thing is that you do get a reduced price point on some. The most expensive thing we're looking at offering is $24 and that's for a lamb saddle chop. What that is essentially is two lamb porterhouses, back to back, with the spine in the center. Then we've got the belly flaps that we tie up and it's a really, really great cut of meat that you'll never see anywhere.

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23 comments
Andrea IntVeld
Andrea IntVeld

So does this mean no more Cafeteria?! Was just there this weekend :(

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

Libertine, Coup D'État... You need a French history book to dine out now.

Bob Fiel
Bob Fiel

Just don't try to serve that chop to Jack Sprat, unless his wife is wit him....

Adam Bertoni
Adam Bertoni

"The new concept is designed to better suit the maturing neighborhood" that line makes me think they haven't actually been to Uptown lately. lol

dekay5555555
dekay5555555

I would say that excessively large lobe of fat on that chop is all the symbolism we need. 

Angie Kiefer
Angie Kiefer

I loved it when t first opened.. Now, we went there earlier in the week and had horrible service and none of the tables were cleaned when we were trying to find patio seating.

rj0766
rj0766

Cafeteria had the worst food in Uptown, so good riddance to that menu.  I had better meals at Arby's.   I did think that the mid-century inspired interior was kind of cool.  It will be interesting to see if McKee can make it work, or if this will be another mediocre Parasole concept like ill Gatto or the crapateria.

Amber Ranzau
Amber Ranzau

It's about time! The rooftop was the only good part.

Gerri Lynn Gudmundson
Gerri Lynn Gudmundson

Probably grab our lawn chairs & coolers head to the river and laugh our asses off!

Lana Diamond
Lana Diamond

I liked the cafeteria. Not excited for the new place but who knows... Maybe it will be good...

Jason M Saye
Jason M Saye

I'm actually excited to try it out. Not a fan of coup detat or hammer and sickle. Plus Uptown cafeteria was pretty blah

Hanni Kenny
Hanni Kenny

Oh no! But Cafeteria was my favorite place! - said no one ever.

rachel.rae3930
rachel.rae3930

Oh hey!  Another Johnny Michaels drink menu! Ill bring my dictionary with me. Its almost as though there's no other game in town! Bah.

Canhnha Luu
Canhnha Luu

Good. Their food and drinks sucked. Rooftop patio was the only good thing.

JCVN
JCVN

Skeptical about how McKee's ideas are going to go once filtered through Parasole, especially if they find the neighborhood won't support that kind of vision—it will quickly adapt to something more crowd-pleasing.

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