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Cuna - Chef Kendal Duque

Cuna - Chef Kendal Duque
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  • Cuna - Chef Kendal Duque

    Post #1 - December 16th, 2009, 5:39 pm
    Post #1 - December 16th, 2009, 5:39 pm Post #1 - December 16th, 2009, 5:39 pm
    Hey LTH peeps....thought I'd pass along the press release and menus on Cuna, which is opening tomorrow....Please let me know if you guys have any questions.

    Cuna – a contemporary neighborhood bar with shareable plates from chef Kendal Duque – to open at 4pm Thursday, December 17

    CHICAGO (December 16, 2009) – Cuna, a contemporary neighborhood bar in the heart of Lakeview (1113 W Belmont Ave; 312.224.8588) serving globally-inspired shareable plates from chef Kendal Duque, will open its doors at 4pm Thursday, December 17.

    Cuna is the first nightlife project from local businessman Paolo Acuna that’s aiming to serve the neighborhood with affordable beverage and dining options in a contemporary and minimalist bar setting. Chef Kendal Duque, formerly the executive chef at three-star Sepia, created a menu of globally inspired shareable plates sourced with local and seasonal ingredients that start at $6 and top out at $16. Chef Duque runs the Cuna kitchen, and will cook on the line every day Cuna is open.

    Cuna is approximately 6,000 square feet, holds 200 total patrons with about 80 seats available for dining. Cuna is broken into four free-flowing spaces – a bar area, a raised seating area designed for drinking and dining, a dining area, and a 60-person lounge area dubbed “The Den” that will be open to the public when not booked for private events.

    The Cuna bar will be open 4pm-2am Tuesday-Friday, 4pm-3am Saturday, and 4pm-2am Sunday. The Cuna kitchen will be open for dinner from 4pm-midnight Tuesday-Sunday. Cuna is closed on Mondays.


    Cuna Beverage Program
    The beverage program philosophy at Cuna is to give patrons a majority of options priced affordably at $8 and under for specialty cocktails, mixed drinks, wines, and beers in a relaxed and contemporary bar setting.

    Cuna general manager and “lifelong” bartender Michael Haus created 11 handcrafted specialty cocktails that start at $8 ranging from new libations like the Belmont Whistle (Hendrick’s Gin, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, cucumber-infused simple syrup, cucumber garnish) and the Spiced Apple Kai (Kilo Kai rum, Bols Apple Sour, bitters, pie crust garnish) to classics like the Sazerac and the Old Fashioned. Cuna sports a full liquor bar where almost all premium cocktails top out at $8 – for example, a Grey Goose mixed drink costs just $7. Cuna serves six beers on tap -- from Half Acre Over Ale to Affligem to Miller Lite -- in true 16oz pint glasses along with a range of bottled beers. Cuna also offers a 17-strong, globally-sourced wine list with all wines available by the bottle and the glass. Ten of the 17 wine glass pours are priced $8 and under.

    Cuna Kitchen
    Chef Kendal Duque – formerly the executive chef at three-star Sepia and a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Great Lakes award for 2009 – is excited to bring his renowned food to the kitchen at Cuna.

    Duque’s chef-driven menu at Cuna focuses on scratch-made, globally-inspired shareable plates incorporating South American, Mediterranean, Asian, American, and Italian flavors that are simple in composition yet bold in flavor and made with local and seasonal ingredients. Chef Duque utilizes local Chicago purveyors such as JDY Meat for proteins, and George J. Cornille & Sons for produce in his opening winter menu at Cuna. Chef Duque’s goal is to bring fine dining style and technique to an approachable neighborhood bar at a low price point. Thirteen of the 22 opening winter menu items are $9 or less, and all menu items are $16 or less.

    Chef Duque’s opening winter menu at Cuna features three flatbreads (including “braised lamb shoulder, green olives, and caramelized onions”); two soups (including “onion soup with beef short ribs and gruyere cheese puffs”); two salads (including “calamari and arugula with chorizo and brad-olive vinaigrette”); six “small bites” ranging from “whole wheat pasta ribbons with smoked duck breast, broccolini and parmigiano” to “roasted sea scallops with brussels sprouts, wild mushrooms and chicken jus”); six “big bites” like “skate wing with bacon-braised collard greens and cranberry-pine nut sauce” and “braised pork cheeks with creamy mascarpone polenta, black kale and cashew vinaigrette”; and three desserts (including “callebaut chocolate and port pot de creme with black peppercorn wafers”).


    Cuna Interior
    Cuna is a 6,000 square foot contemporary bar that’s airy and minimalist interior is replete with grey painted walls, exposed brick walls, exposed grey air ducts, black tin ceilings, large custom circular stainless steel overhead light fixtures, and dark brown hardwood floors.

    Cuna’s centerpiece is its 31-foot poured concrete bar with several glass covered cutouts on the top of the bar showcasing liquor bottles and several cutouts in the bar’s base filled with frosted, backlit, see-through glass paneling. All of the concrete work at Cuna – including the bar and back bar – was done by the Indiana-based Schumacher Brothers company.

    Cuna also has a circular, six-foot tall, dark brown “pleather” DJ booth. DJs will spin a mix of “Club Lite” music after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Cuna also sports five 50-inch HD flatcreens that will mostly show lifestyle slides and pictures throughout the evening.

    Cuna’s bar area sports approximately 10 high-top tables made from distressed dark brown poured concrete with seating of tall red vinyl bucket-style stools. Cuna’s dining area has approximately 10 low-lop tables made from the same distressed dark brown poured concrete with a seating of high-backed red vinyl seats.

    Cuna’s raised seating area designed for drinking and dining seats about 12 people on dark red fabric couches accented with thin grey and yellow vertical pinstripes. In front of the couches, you’ll find four grey-colored, low-slung, poured concrete “blanket-shaped” tables.

    Local Chicago artist Wynn Fermin brightened Cuna’s interior with five colorful 5ft x 3ft acrylic on canvas portraits featuring “music muses” like Gwen Stefani, Lilly Allen, and Katy Perry. In addition, Fermin painted a red, grey, and white abstract bamboo scene on one of Cuna’s walls and a bright red sun on the overhang to the entrance of “The Den”. Fermian also painted five acrylic on canvas panels of abstract flowers that hang inside “The Den”.

    “The Den” is Cuna’s homey, reserveable private party space that holds up to 60 people. “The Den” will be open on the weekends for all patrons to experience if it is not rented out. The entrance to “The Den” sports 11-foot-tall red curtains. Furniture inside “The Den” is comprised of two-toned (dark brown “pleather” seats and medium brown fabric backs) banquettes and low-slung chocolate brown “pleather” ottomans. The walls inside “The Den” are light brown, and its floor is a poured concrete base -- again courtesy of Schumacher Brothers -- that’s brown in color accented with orange circles.

    About Cuna Owner Paolo Acuna
    A Springfield, Illinois native, Paolo Acuna graduated from Saint Louis University with a finance degree in 2001. After graduation, Acuna worked as an accountant and financial analyst for approximately six years in St. Louis.

    Seeking a change of pace, Acuna moved to Chicago to pursue a graduate degree in fashion from Columbia College. Acuna worked in sales technology and payroll sales during the day while waiting tables at Fornetto Mei -- the pan-Italian restaurant at The Whitehall Hotel -- at night to raise money to fund his Columbia College graduate degree. Although Acuna was accepted at Columbia College, he did not attend because the bar and restaurant business hooked him. Acuna has been diligently working on all aspects of his first nightlife concept, Cuna, since October 2007.

    About Cuna Chef Kendal Duque
    Chef Kendal Duque is the former executive chef at three-star Sepia and a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Great Lakes award for 2009 in less than two years at the West Loop hot spot. Duque left Sepia in March and ended up at Cuna where he created the menu, runs the kitchen, and cooks on the line every day Cuna is open.

    Duque – a native of Quito, Ecuador – started his undergraduate career at University of Pennsylvania before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley where he graduated with a biochemistry degree. Duque went on to receive a Latin American literature MFA at Berkeley as well. While at Berkeley, Duque was exposed to Northern California’s progressive culinary scene and was hooked. Duque then enrolled in Peter Kump’s Cooking School in New York.

    After graduating culinary school, Chef Duque worked – in succession – at San Francisco’s Masa’s, Chicago’s Everest, Las Vegas’ Picasso in the Bellagio, Chicago’s Tru, summer staged at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, NYC’s Union Pacific, Chicago’s NoMi in the Park Hyatt, Chicago’s Union League Club, and Sepia before taking over at Cuna.

    More information on Cuna can be found at http://www.CunaChicago.com/

    Photography available upon request. For more information – including setting up interviews with Chef Kendal Duque and Cuna owner Paolo Acuna – please contact Dave Andrews of Good Life PR at dave@goodlifepr.com and 847.909.5511.
  • Post #2 - December 16th, 2009, 5:44 pm
    Post #2 - December 16th, 2009, 5:44 pm Post #2 - December 16th, 2009, 5:44 pm
    Please find below Chef Kendal Duque's opening winter menu at Cuna. Below that is the specialty cocktail list. Cheers!

    CUNA WINTER MENU

    flat breads
    wild mushrooms and roasted garlic 6
    sausage, grapes, goat cheese and fontina cheese 6
    braised lamb shoulder, green olives and caramelized onions 6

    soups and salads
    cauliflower and potato soup with smoked trout 7
    onion soup with beef short ribs and gruyere cheese puffs 8
    calamari and arugula with chorizo and bread-olive vinaigrette 9
    mixed lettuces and acorn squash with parmigiano and lemon-shallot vinaigrette 6

    small bites
    grilled baby octopus with endive, orange and pine nuts 9
    roasted sea scallops with brussels sprouts, wild mushrooms and chicken jus 12
    soy braised pork belly mini sandwiches with cabbage and sriracha aioli 9
    whole wheat pasta ribbons with smoked duck breast, broccolini and parmigiano 11
    butternut squash risotto with applewood-smoked bacon, sage and walnuts 11
    fried market potatoes and brussels sprouts with garlic-rosemary aioli 8

    big bites
    skate wing with bacon-braised collard greens and cranberry-pine nut sauce 15
    berkshire pork loin kabobs with apples and arugula 15
    grilled amish chicken with acorn squash and lentils 14
    braised pork cheeks with creamy polenta, black kale and cashew vinaigrette 16
    bison burger with gorgonzola and sweet potato chips 12
    crisp cauliflower with lentils and golden raisin-hazelnut vinaigrette 11

    sweets
    callebaut chocolate and port pot de creme with black peppercorn wafers 6
    apple and walnut bread pudding with kilo kai rum and caramel ice cream 6
    black dog gelato cookie sandwiches 6


    Cuna Specialty Cocktails

    Belmont Whistle $10
    Hendrick’s Gin, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, cucumber-infused simple syrup, cucumber garnish

    Love Jones $10
    Absolut Mandarin vodka, Parfait Amour liqueur, raw egg white, lemon juice, superfine sugar, lemon twist garnish

    Mocha $10

    Three Olives Chocolate vodka, Three Olives Triple Shot Espresso vodka, Godiva Chocolate liqueur, Godiva White Chocolate liqueur, cinnamon stick & coffee bean garnishes

    The Executive $10
    Grey Goose vodka, Terre Gaie Prosecco top layer, lemon zest garnish

    Formula One $10
    Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Scotch, Cointreau, simple syrup, sugar rim, caramelized lemon twist garnish

    Sazerac $10

    Pernod absinthe rinse, Templeton Rye, gomme syrup, water splash, bitters, burnt orange peal garnish

    Old Fashioned $8

    Maker’s Mark bourbon, muddled cherries & orange slice, simple syrup, soda water splash, bitters

    Negroni $8
    Plymouth Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, toasted orange slice garnish

    Zen $8
    Absolut Peach vodka, Bols Triple Sec, green tea, ginger syrup, mint sprig garnish

    Foi Dog $8

    Kilo Kai rum, heavy cream, raw whole egg, yam-spiced gomme syrup, cinnamon stick garnish

    Spiced Apple Kai $8
    Kilo Kai rum, Bols Apple Sour, bitters, pie crust garnish
  • Post #3 - December 22nd, 2009, 12:03 pm
    Post #3 - December 22nd, 2009, 12:03 pm Post #3 - December 22nd, 2009, 12:03 pm
    Cuna is offering three different NYE packages. Please find the links below. Tickets must be purchased through the links. Thanks everyone.

    New Year's Eve Dinner at Cuna.
    https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93663

    New Year's Eve Party at Cuna.
    https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93659

    VIP New Year's Eve Party at Cuna.
    https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93665
  • Post #4 - January 4th, 2010, 9:21 pm
    Post #4 - January 4th, 2010, 9:21 pm Post #4 - January 4th, 2010, 9:21 pm
    It should be awesome. I worked with Kendall at Tru ,many years ago. Very talented. I look forward to stopping in an seeing him.

    Matt Freistadt
    Lack of curiosity will be our downfall
    Matt Freistadt
    Director of Research and Development
    Protein Solutions
    Chicago, IL
    http://www.proteinsolutions.net
  • Post #5 - June 6th, 2014, 8:06 pm
    Post #5 - June 6th, 2014, 8:06 pm Post #5 - June 6th, 2014, 8:06 pm
    Kendal Duque will be cooking at the Brass Monkey Brasserie that's slated for the West Loop.

    Mr. Duque, who most recently was at American Junkie in River North, is the executive chef at the restaurant being developed at 401 N. Morgan St. by Marc Bushala.

    Crain's mentioned the 88,000-square-foot multiuse project last year and again in October. Mr. Bushala's plans call for a private-event space, a distillery and the Brass Monkey Brasserie.

    The restaurant is aiming for a mid-August opening.

    Mr. Duque, the opening chef at Sepia, has worked at Tru, NoMI, City Tavern and Chicago Firehouse. He was named Best New Chef by Chicago magazine in 2008.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... ass-monkey
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny

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