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Inside Chicago’s French-Workshop-Inspired Plein Air Cafe

Plen Air Cafe Hyde Park

There is a whole lot of design muscle behind Chicago’s newest French-workshop-inspired cafe and eatery, Hyde Park’s Plein Air Cafe.

The lovely white-washed space inside a Woodlawn Ave. building shared with the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore is the product of a partnership between Chicago fashion connoisseur Soo Choi and design heavyweight Kevin Heisner of Heisler Hospitality (see Chicago’s Trencherman, Revel Room and The Sportsman’s Club).

plen air cafe chicago breakfast

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The Plein Air name reflects a French expression related to painting in the open air, and the owners say the space was designed to provide a “warm, serene environment where guests can savor coffee, food, and design.”

“What coffee,” you ask? On its sold out opening day, the cafe was serving pour over and drip-brewed coffee and espresso drinks from Chicago’s Metric Coffee Co., but Choi has announced intentions to sell coffees from a rotating roster of local roasters.

inside Plen Air Hyde Park

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The food menu is the result of a collaboration with Chicago chef Art Jackson (of Pleasant House Bakery), and includes a number of sweet and savory dishes, from full breakfast dishes to salads, tartines and savory pies. The focus is on “simple, comforting dishes with European-inflected twists that can be enjoyed all day long,” Plein Air says.

tartine food at plen air