The wood-fired brick oven was burning brightly Thursday evening at Ten Mile House as owners of the new restaurant at 1700 Central St. in Evanston hosted a media preview event.
Co-owner Joe Krouse says he and partners Robert LaPata and Fredric Gale see an opportunity to bring new dining excitement to the area of Central Street just east of the Metra tracks.
With Northwestern athletic events around Ryan Field nearby, Evanston Hospital a little further to the east, and the new apartment building that the restaurant is in now 95 percent rented, Krouse says, there's a lot happening in the area.
Krouse, who owns Unite Urban Grill in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, said all that made the chance to open on Central Street just too good to pass up.
A bowl of Gruyere Fondue Gratin being pulled from the wood oven.
The menu offers eight appetizers, including a very thick Gruyere Fondue Gratin with roasted mushrooms, leeks and thick-cut bacon designed to be spoooned onto thin slices of grilled baguette.
The restaurant will also use the wood oven to bake an array of thin-crust pizzas and cook entrees that include New York strip steak and lake trout. Other entrees include dry-rubbed baby back ribs and a vegetable ragu.
Behind the bar are taps for a dozen beers including Gate Crasher from Evanston's own Temerance Beer Co. The restaurant will also offer an assortment of wines and coctails.
The dining room will seat 110 people, with room for 25 more at the bar. And the owners plan to open a 50-seat outdoor patio next spring.
Krouse said the restaurant isn't quite ready to open yet — still waiting for dimmers for the lights and installation of the sound system, among other things.
But they're planning to stage soft-opening events starting Friday, Nov. 14, and be open for business on a regular schedule by Monday, Nov. 17.