Table Talk
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The North Loop just got a new casual eatery, and is about to get a new party bar, too.

Nolo’s Kitchen debuted on Monday, featuring a bright, warehouse-style setting and breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Chef Peter Hoff, a Minnesota native who has spent the last several years in California, offers up straightforward fare such as omelets, waffles, flatbreads, sandwiches and salads with plenty of skill mixed in. Chicken is smoked for four hours before being piled on a flatbread with roasted onions and garlic. A seasonal salad is benefitted by fresh herbs and fruit – along with savory granola.

Most of the menu is firmly in the playful category, with items like a deviled egg toast and chili that arrives in a carved-out bread bowl. But the comfort food vibe is also lightened by the vegetable-forward elements, such as the veggie toast, a kale Caesar with roasted cauliflower and an acai bowl.

“I just don’t want to do anything that comes across like I’m trying to impress someone,” Hoff said. “Classics are classics for a reason. I want to make simple food and I want to do it well.”

The former Gardner Hardware Company building, boasting original exposed brick walls along with marble, leather and gold accents, gives nods to its former life with yard sticks acting as the wainscoting in a hallway and as free gifts in a can at the door. Above the wainscoting is engraved metal recreations of washing machine assembly instructions. Previous to Gardner, the space was a Maytag production facility.

The three partners – Hoff, Brett Johnson and Marty Collins – are preparing their sequel to the 135-seat restaurant, as well.

Basement Bar, located beneath Nolo’s is expected to open its doors on Oct. 20. The raw space will include a mock food truck walk-up window that will churn out the likes of pizza, wings, cheeseburgers and “broasted” chicken buckets, bar service and a slate of near-nightly entertainment, including DJs, live bands, jazz nights and drag queen meat raffles. There will also be lots of games, including video games, shuffleboard and darts.

“It’s going to be a full-on party down there,” Johnson said.

Basement Bar will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will be closed on Mondays.