BOMBOS AWAY Nowhere will your New Year’s resolutions be so savagely tested as at BomboBar, a Randolph Street treat emporium opening a second location in Old Town in late winter. Who could possibly munch on celery sticks when such decadent goodies, like the eatery’s signature bomboloni, await? The sugar-dusted doughnuts feature added fun with DIY bottles used to fill the pastry with custards like salted caramel or raspberry. But that’s just the start, as Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani—the culinary heavyweight behind DineAmic Group gems like Siena Tavern—continuously rolls out creative takes on his doughnuts. Take, for example, the popular BomboBrekky, a bombo-based breakfast sandwich featuring cherry-smoked bacon. The BomboBird, meanwhile, puts fried chicken and mustard seed slaw in between halves of made-from-scratch bomboloni. “How many doughnut shops can you go to for a dozen doughnuts, but also a burger with truffle potato skins?” Viviani notes. “It’s the best of both worlds.” Sweetening the deal are Hotter Chocolates, piled high with toppings like whoopie pies and cookies—plus, of course, a mini bombo. 1529 N. Wells St., bombobar.com –Ariel Cheung
FRESH START When a hefty increase in rent forced Le Colonial to close its doors at the end of its lease, owners Joe King and Rick Wahlstedt knew there was only one possible neighborhood for any potential reopening: Gold Coast, where the French-Vietnamese institution had been enchanting locals since 1996. “It was extremely important to remain in the neighborhood because we have an enormous number of regulars who live nearby and stop in once or twice a week,” explains Wahlstedt. “We didn’t want our clientele to have to get into a cab or drive to a new part of town.” So when he and King got the chance to relocate to a dreamy setting just above Chanel’s recently unveiled flagship at 65 E. Oak St., they nabbed it.
More good news: Most of what regulars love about the old Le Colonial—its charming maître d’, Rafael Lopez; its talented chef, Quoc Luong; its tantalizing genre-bending fare—comes along when it reopens in February. While the menu includes all the old favorites, it was updated with some new dishes. “Like a favorite old car, Le Colonial includes all the elements that people have come to love,” King says. “After 22 years, however, we welcomed the chance to make subtle changes that we think will elevate the restaurant to a new level,” adds Wahlstedt.
Within the new space designed by Chicago architect Mark Knauer, classic elements like teak and wicker chairs and handpainted tiles recall the colonial ambiance of the original restaurant and are sure to feel welcoming to first-time guests and regulars alike—which include Mayor Rahm Emanuel and celebrity patrons like Mick Jagger and Cameron Diaz.
Still, the venue includes some surprises. Among them is a lovely porch overlooking Oak Street. “It will be like an open-air bird’s nest in the summer and an oasis for watching the snow fly when it’s enclosed in the winter,” says King. The new and slightly larger location also features a cozy fireplace and a private chef’s tasting room wrapped in handpainted murals. “The concept of Le Colonial is inspired by the colonial clubs of Saigon in the 1920s and ’30s,” says Wahlstedt. “In the middle of a frigid winter, people appreciate feeling transported to an oasis reminiscent of another time and place.” Whether that time and place is a bygone era in a faraway land or simply a few decades ago down the street is up to you. –Jean Nayar