Robert Et Fils, Chef and Owner Rob Shaner’s homage to the elegant warmth of classic French cuisine, opens Friday, August 7 in North Center.
A destination neighborhood restaurant, Robert Et Fils is intimate in scale and quaint in detail, with interiors by Siren Betty Designs. It harkens to another time and another Robert in Chef Shaner’s life: his late father, whose job took the family to Paris when Shaner was in high school. There, father and son Shaner dropped their American monikers, Bob and Rob, and adopted the more French “Robert.” As they immersed themselves in the culture, Chef Shaner fell in love with the food and the uniquely Parisian way of dining. Robert Et Fils translates to Robert and son.
“I’ve been planning this concept for years. There’s no better way to honor my father than by opening a restaurant in his name and recreating and sharing our experiences of French dining as a family—talking, drinking and eating amazing food,” remarks Shaner. “There’s nowhere else like it in the city right now, and dining with us certainly won’t feel like it’s Chicago in 2020.”
Robert Et Fils distills the essence of old-school French gastronomy with an American playfulness, exploring modern culinary techniques and technology. Shaner is passionate about developing umami flavors—not a conscious part of the traditional French palate—and gravitates towards Japanese products and unexpected ingredient pairings. Courses will be in larger portions than that of a tasting menu restaurant, however the feeling leans more towards service at a fine dining establishment than a casual bistro, while remaining welcoming and comforting.
A Missouri native, Chef Shaner has an academic background in sociology, but ultimately decided to pursue his passion in the culinary world. His Chicago cooking resume includes names such as The Bristol, Branch 27 and Blue 13. He was most recently the opening executive chef at The Royal Grocer & Co. in Bucktown and then at The Kennison in Lincoln Park.
Joining him at Robert Et Fils are Pastry Chef Cati Molnar, formerly of Lost Larson and The Kennison, and General Manager Rami Ezzat, a BOKA Restaurant Group veteran who grew up in Paris and coincidentally attended the same high school in Paris—they discovered this while working together across the world in Chicago. The small, close-knit team is working to offer thoughtful, elevated service amid the current takeout-focused climate.
“The silver lining is that we have a beautiful situation to reimagine the industry and approach how service is provided,” says Molnar. “Takeout is not something that chefs have had to think through very much in the past. We’ve been inspired to get creative through small ways in every aspect of our business, from ease of ordering to its organization to pick-up.”
Located at 4229 N. Lincoln Ave., Robert Et Fils will open first for takeout service with a family-style menu that is generous in flavor and spirit, like the meals Chef Shaner so fondly remembers from his teen years spent in Paris with his family. The menus will rotate, offering poultry, fish and vegetarian options. Each will be curated from start to finish with no overlap between the courses on each menu, always served with ample bread made in house and dessert by Molnar.
The takeout menu will be available on Tock Thursdays through Saturdays, priced at $40 per person. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance in parties of two. Wine and cocktails also will be available for takeout.
As dictated and allowed by changes to the industry, the team is excited to introduce patio dining next, with indoor dining at the 24-seat restaurant to follow later. Future plans also include operating as a bakery during the day serving breakfast, lunch, coffee and pastries.