Primebar, the Chicago-based “modern ale house”, is now open in Calhoun Square. It sits in the space that was lastly Il Gatto and more famously Figlio. I have to say this, the space change-up is brilliant. You still walk in that awkward side door in the mall, but then the room opens up before you. A brand new (all-sided? polygonish?) bar anchors the room which now is open from kitchen to windows. Gone is the divide that, in Il Gatto, made you feel like you were being sent to the dining room no-fun-zone. It’s much brighter, but still woodsy and industrial. The street-side seating is almost all high tops and, here’s another smart move, so is the back. Along the walls are half-circle booths, but the hightop seating creates the feeling that this is a bar, through and through.
As for the food, it’s snacky-bar-twisty with buffalo calamari, animal fries with an egg, cheese curds, gravy, and pork belly (read: poutine) plus sandwiches, burgers, and tacos. The beer list came in a plumply bound book, with handy descriptions for the un-geeky, but you get that it’s serious about beer with somewhere around 60 taps.