Eat your heart out, Hollywood. The newest fabulous restaurant isn’t tucked away in Los Angeles, it’s shining bright in Chicago’s West Loop. Dubbed BLVD after the famous Sunset Boulevard, the chic restaurant and lounge opened last month and is the first creation by Steven Zaleski and husband-wife duo Kara and Frank Callero.
Inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, the restaurant caters to the whims of its diners like a personal assistant to an A-list diva.
“We have traditional caviar service, and if someone wants a nice bottle of Champagne and a whole fish, we can do that,” said Kara Callero. “But if they want to come in and get a burger and a beer, they can do that too.”
The kitchen is helmed by Ross Mendoza, who’s no stranger to mid-century-inspired eateries: He was heading the famed Jean-Georges outpost Pump Room before BLVD scooped him up. For his part, the chef has created a contemporary American menu full of global influences. Diners can expect dishes like pappardelle with oxtail ragu, prawn tempura with tamarind and lime and even a luxe suckling pig with mojo sauce and fava beans. He’s also managed to incorporate some classic 1950’s plates like pot pies and patty melts to stay true to the restaurant’s old school roots.
While Mendoza delights the taste buds, it’s Karen Herold of Studio K Creative who is responsible for dazzling diners’ eyeballs. Her previous works have been hotspots like Girl & the Goat, GT Prime and Balena, but for BLVD, Herold didn’t hold back. As Kara Callero said, “This will be a showstopper: When you walk in [you’ll see] these grand 30-foot ceilings and a beautiful staircase that wraps around the main bar downstairs.”
Herold took inspiration from Art Deco and Hollywood Regency design styles—think Champagne gold mirror installations, geometric patterns and plenty of round banquette seating.
“There are a lot of elements that are very reminiscent of that time, but we didn’t want to be too theme-y,” Kara Callero said.
Though the restaurant isn’t small—it holds 215 guests—like any A-list sanctuary, intimacy is prized.
“We’ve really been conscious about creating pockets of space that have their own identity,” Kara Callero said. “It feels dynamic. It feels warm...We wanted something that was approachable, but also glamorous and decadent.” The best part? You don’t even have to be a member of SAG to get in.