Online Exclusive - Bar Pastoral, ChicagoJan 10, 2013
By Erinn Waldo
Taking cues from a previous trip to wineries in France’s Loire Valley, he divided the bistro into two bar areas (one for cheese, one for wine), and infused them with dark hardwood floors, rustic materials and finishes, and dairy farm and vineyard pieces—some antiques, some custom made. It was important, however, “to avoid anything looking ‘faux’ old when we did create new structures or furnishings that also had to be functional,” Nardella explains. “We collaborated with expert Chicago-area light and furniture fabricators to relate the story of Pastoral to actual design elements.”
For instance, a custom pendant light constructed of butter churn handles and milking udders by local artisan Ted Harris illuminates the soapstone cheese bar; moss-green industrial pendants were found at a Chicago architectural salvage warehouse; square dining tables crafted from wine crates are trimmed with salvaged metal from the old shop’s storefront; and custom millwork is made of reclaimed walnut barn wood from Cambridge, Illinois.
“We kept the fixtures and finish materials as simple and modern as possible while relating them to the country kitchen experience,” says Nardella, adding that for a touch of Chicago, they left an exposed brick wall and hollow clay tiles stamped with the word ‘American’ found during demolition. “The design is able to tell a story and reinforce Pastoral's brand without being overbearing or trendy.”
The standout: the barrel vault ceiling, inspired by the earth-sheltered wineries Nardella visited in the Loire Valley, which makes the narrow space appear spacious, yet cozy. Chicago artisan Anna Wolfson applied the natural plaster finish, and the combination diffuses ambient lighting throughout the bistro. “It’s a relatively unique architectural feature in Chicago,” explains Nardella. “It really ties the space together.”