The 5121 Food Hall & Bar in Hyde Park merges upscale eateries

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CHEF/PARTNER KENNETH ROBINSON heads the kitchen at the 5121 Food Hall & Bar, which also includes Porkchop and The Hyde Speakeasy. (Photo provided by 5121 Food Hall & Bar)

By Raymond Ward, The New 411

With their popularity rising amidst glowing reviews, Red Fish Bleu Fish, Porkchop and The Hyde Speakeasy, all located under one roof at 5121 S. Harper in Hyde Park, are now morphing into the 5121 Food Hall & Bar. The new name reflects the wide variety of food and drinks that are available in this stylish space. Red Fish Bleu Fish has launched a new menu, incorporating new dishes from Executive Chef/Partner Kenneth Robinson.

While the main emphasis is on fish and seafood, the menu now includes a variety of excellent USDA prime steaks, adding to the “something-for-everyone” food selection. Guests can choose from a wide range of starters, soups, salads, pasta and rice dishes, meats, fish and seafood entrées, “build your own” seafood boil and street foods.

“We continue to expand our menu to please the desires of our growing fan base,” said owner Jovanis Bouargoub. “In addition, we’ve recruited our former chef at Porkchop, Kenneth Robinson, to become Executive Chef/Partner, heading up the entire kitchen operation. He will continue to develop the menus of all three venues at the 5121 Food Hall & Bar.” Chef Robinson brings Caribbean inspiration with its bolder flavors to the Red Fish Bleu Fish menu. He is a native New Yorker who now divides his time between Chicago and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, where he heads the kitchen at the two Greenhouse restaurants located on the Dutch side of the island.

Robinson believes that to excel as a chef, there are three keys to success: First, chefs must have a vision of the food experience they want to impart to their guests and make sure it is in sync with what the guests want. Second, they need to be able to execute that vision, and to do so, thirdly, they need to be extremely organized. “No matter what type of cuisine you are cooking, every great chef must be able to achieve these three objectives,” he said.

Starting at a young age Robinson, the son of a career Army engineer, was frequently on the move. He grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side where he was always around a myriad of cuisines. But his father’s career took the family to a variety of military bases in the United States including Hawaii and to Europe.

Robinson acknowledges that pursuing a career as a chef was quite natural. He agrees with the old maxim that chefs are born, not made. He always loved to be around food and was fortunate to be exposed to a variety of cuisines through his frequent moves. He enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in France where he built his foundation and developed a large network of culinarians, who opened the door to cooking jobs in a variety of restaurants. His first focus was on country French bistro-style cooking in Montpelier and Toulouse.

Always eager to learn and having an adventurous nature, through the years Robinson has made it a point to try out new opportunities in new locales—from France to New York and on to Rio de Janeiro. His next move was back to Chicago where he opened his own and also worked at numerous restaurants.

Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch are served in this casual and lively restaurant with a friendly staff, delicious comfort food and full bar. The kitchen is always open late. Happy hour specials run weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. along with featured daily specials. Lunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Dinner is served from 3 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Hyde is a unique Chicago speakeasy, an innovative concoction of art, live music, food and drinks. Evoking the sensual, friendly vibe of a 1920s gathering spot, The Hyde is a late-night spot with an exceptional cocktail program, a special cognac bar, and a discreet, sophisticated atmosphere. The speakeasy is open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. During weekdays, access The Hyde through the hidden door inside of the Red Fish Bleu Fish restaurant. On weekends, enter through the main door at 5115 S. Harper in Chicago.

Free validated parking for all three venues is available next to Whole Foods on the lower level of City Hyde (enter on S. Lake Park Avenue). For more information, contact the restaurant at 773-952-4744 or 773-493-9333.

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