‘Secret’ Celebrity Clientele, New Chef & More On Tap at West Loop Destination
By Tedi Delashmet
The clock strikes 11:11, and for a moment, good luck and blessings overcome you. According to Greek numerology, the numeral one symbolizes “manifesting something of high potential,” and 11—a master number—signifies enlightenment. For restaurateur Ahmed Braimah, good luck turned into opportunity at 1111 W. Lake St. with the arrival of his new American-focused Eleven Eleven restaurant.
In collaborative efforts with ex-athletes Nazr Mohammed and Israel Idonije, Braimah has transformed the space previously occupied by Honey’s into a casual, wine-centric atmosphere.
If you’re in the mood for city authenticity, nothing screams Chicago like the roar of the nearby passing elevated “El” train while dining amid the neighborhood hospitality and eclectic music that makes up its vibrant scene.
As a former VIP host at Underground nightclub, Braimah has utilized his 10 years in hospitality to create an “exclusive” restaurant experience for guests.
“Anyone who walks through our doors is VIP,” insists Braimah. “We want them to feel special.”
Since opening, the restaurant’s doors have seen its touch of big-name celebrities and athletes. In valued confidentiality, Braimah declined to dish out the details, “When they’re here, they don’t have to worry about us naming them.”
Inspired by American fare, Eleven Eleven’s rustic menu is a staple for food and wine enthusiasts. For exclusivity, private dining rooms and access to the upstairs patio are available for events. Guests can relax upstairs and indulge in a glass of wine or champagne without someone trying to crash their table.
“I don’t want to say it’s upscale, but it’s a respectable space,” says Braimah.
The emphasis on eating organic is growingly popular, and Braimah delivers with food and wine pairings from the best under-the-radar farmers and winemakers. Fan favorites include steak frites, rotisserie chicken, swordfish, and their speciality James Beard Foundation blended burger with aged cheddar, white American cheese, bacon, fried onions, pickles, awesome sauce and garlic truffle frites.
Upon receiving your entree, prepare to take a deep breath because it’s a lot to take in (literally), but prepare to be satisfied, too. The portion size is immense, and that’s the goal.
“The worst feeling is going to dinner and eating again [afterward] because you didn’t get fulfilled,” says Braimah. “We want everyone to eat happily and leave full.”
Save room for dessert because Executive Chef Paul Caravelli makes it hard to stay away. Caravelli is a former pastry chef for Knife and Tine and the winner of the 2016 Culinary Fight Club. He’s responsible for the menu’s success, specifically his take on the blended burger that recently competed in the James Beard Blended Burger Challenge.
“He’s a great chef who loves to bake, so all of these pies are his creations,” explains Braimah.
Highlights on his dessert menu include banana cream pie, french silk pie, salted butterscotch popcorn, and dutch apple pie--just like mama used to make.
Guests can expect an expansion of the menu following plans to open the rooftop patio for small bites and happy hour items.
“We’re very excited," says Braimah. "Knock on wood everything works out."