Tucked away in an unassuming pocket of Logan Square lies Saint Emeric, a little, underground restaurant that promises a vibrant and memorable fine-dining experience.
Located in a former church, Saint Emeric’s approach to fine dining is fun, intimate and accessible. Dinners aren’t just meals but carefully curated events. Guests can choose their own adventures, with events like “Sounds of Saint Emeric,” a three-course prix fixe dinner followed by a live musical performance, or the recently resurrected “Gospel Brunch,” featuring a three-course menu and a gospel performance.
Eric Brown, Saint Emeric’s chef-in-residence and curator, said he’s looking forward to this particular event. “We’re … super excited about something we just started in late January and [that] is coming back the first weekend in March — ‘Sunday Gospel Brunch.’ Guest Chef Lisa Shaw provides a wealth of sweet and savory offerings before Mark Hubbard and The Voices take the stage for a truly jaw-dropping choir experience. We’d like to see these brunches become a staple in our community. One of our guests was on her way out and told her friend, ‘If church was like this, I’d be there every week.'”
Amen to that.
Secret, Exclusive … But Open To All
The thrill of a secret, underground restaurant comes in how exclusive and enigmatic it can be. Saint Emeric is both of those things, but it’s for everyone. Brown said, “we want to be … doing something that feels secret, special and welcoming.”
“Our goal is to generate an ‘Oh, wow!’ moment in realizing they’re in for a unique experience,” Brown added. “We have to do a fair amount of work to get a guest’s attention [enough for them] to book something seemingly hard to understand. Then, we have to lead them down a path that’s a bit mysterious, and then they literally turn a corner into Saint Emeric. That’s the ‘Aha!’ moment, when they realize they made a really good decision.” Once a guest secures a ticket, the mysteries of the menu and location linger until a week before the reservation. Only then, will the lucky diner discover the details of their underground culinary adventure.
One of those not-so-secret-anymore details is that Saint Emeric is situated in a former church, built in 1888. It was once a Hungarian Catholic church, named for Hungary’s St. Emeric, before becoming the St. Hedwig Mission Church in 1939. Once the building was purchased from the Archdiocese of Chicago, its former and current owners were determined to use the space to support the arts community.
Before Brown took the helm of Saint Emeric’s culinary program in October 2019, the space hosted a number of chef-driven pop-ups and musical guests before evolving into the streamlined, curated event space it is today. Brown noted that current owners Jim Jacoby and Molly Morter “are committed to … celebrating those in pursuit of mastery over their own craft. As a result, this building is home to a digital design studio, riveting musical performances and, of course, the culinary arts.”
Choose Your Adventure
Saint Emeric is certainly a celebration of how food and music can come together to create one amazing experience. Through the venue’s relationship with the global music company Sofar Sounds, Saint Emeric’s music lineup is filled with talented performers from Chicago and across the country. Those wanting to exercise their culinary craft at Saint Emeric are invited to cook as guest chefs or stay for a longer run as chefs-in-residence. In bringing these two worlds together, Brown said he hopes that every guest leaves having had, as he describes it, “a world-class experience in a comfortable, quirky and kind setting.”
Saint Emeric is currently seating five different events, and all reservations can be made on Tock. Due to the size of the space, tickets are limited. For more details on current and future events, visit Saint Emeric’s website or follow the restaurant on Instagram.
Featured photo: Aiden Kranz