New Corner Cafe Pompette Opens in Chicago

First meeting in the kitchens at acclaimed Chicago restaurants Wood and Salero, an impressive team of three industry dynamos introduce ‘Pompette’, a new all-day neighborhood spot and corner café in Chicago’s trendy Bucktown neighborhood. Showcasing the group’s personal brand of warm and welcoming Midwestern hospitality, Pompette opens doors to its cozy 1,800-square-foot space on Friday, October 7th at 10 am in the former Izakaya Mita location (1960 N Damen Ave). Pompette is helmed by Ashlee Aubin–whose experience includes a stint at three MICHELIN-starred Alinea, seven Bib Gourmands while executive chef at Wood, and a three-star Phil Vettel Chicago Tribune review while leading the kitchen at Salero–and partners Katie Wasielewski, former executive chef of Heisler Hospitality’s British-Indian concept Pub Royale, and Aaron Patten, from the kitchens of two MICHELIN-starred Acadia and Moody Tongue. The community-forward gathering spot focuses on a curated Old World wine list, low ABV sippers, and an easygoing menu of wine-friendly food and shareable plates.

FOOD & PASTRIES: Wasielewski and Patten take the lead on the food program, which is centered around a European-influenced menu of simple and thoughtful, ingredient-driven dishes served from morning until the evening hours. Whether popping in for a morning pastry, bellying up to the bar for a nightcap, or settling in more comfortably in the dining room for a sit-down meal and a glass of interesting wine, the team makes use of its relationships with area farmers to present the neighborhood with familiar, classics with a seasonal twist. In the daytime, look for dishes such as the hearty Farro and Swiss Chard Salad with an herb vinaigrette, candied walnuts, crisp apple and blue cheese; or a rotating Quiche loaded up with seasonal, farm-fresh vegetables like rapini and heirloom squash. In the dinner hours, look for offerings like the Buttermilk Fried Quail, served with Calabrian Chili sauce, turmeric, honey and corn salsa; Beet Falafel with garlic tahini vinaigrette, arugula and shaved beets; or Smoked Salmon Blinis topped with creme fraiche, giardiniera, everything spice and trout roe. Pompette will also prepare fresh pastries in house daily like the brown butter streusel coffee cake, and will also feature offerings from West Town’s Aya Pastry and James Beard Nominated Pastry Chef Aya Fukai.

COCKTAILS & SPIRITS: Taking its name from a French slang term for ‘just a little tipsy,’ Pompette’s cocktail program leans into easy-sipping low ABV cocktails and classics. The all-female bar team is helmed by Detroit industry veteran, Margaret Warren, who was most recently lead bartender of universally-loved neighborhood spot Table, Donkey and Stick. Now at Pompette, Warren puts an emphasis on creating sustainable drinks making use of ingredients from the kitchen, like seasonal pickles for their house Bloody Mary and a tahini-washed amaro. Look for drinks like the classic Spritz, made with Bianco Vermouth, Bergamot Liqueur, Green Tea Soda, Sparkling Wine and Grapefruit, as well as the Spaggliato Blanco, made with grapefruit butter Aveze, Bordiga Vurmut, and Cava. The drink menu will also showcase a selection of fortified wines, brandies, vermouths and amaros.

WINE: On the wine side, Aubin takes on an entirely new role as general manager, stepping out of the kitchen for the first time in 25 years to dive into what’s taken a back seat until now– his own obsession for pairing great food and intriguing wine. Toying with the way wine interacts with the dining experience, Aubin has handpicked a list stemming from personal discoveries that play up Old World styles and low-intervention, natural productions rooted in location and history. Throughout the menu, Aubin highlights inventive small producers from across France, Italy, Spain, Germany and America, including selections from original innovators like Véronique Cochran of Château Falfas, whose tiny biodynamic winery balks at expectations of Bordeaux production, and Maxime-François Laurent, whose organic winery in the Côtes du Rhône region embodies the sunny terroir of the clay-limestone rich area. 

Pompette will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 1960 N Damen Ave. Seating will be first come, first served.

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