UPTOWN — Uptown will get a taste of underground fine dining later this month when a new restaurant, the Octagon Mode, serves its first meal.
Owner Erika Stone-Miller said that the restaurant at 1509 W. Lawrence Ave. will host dinner parties for groups of strangers (about 12 to 18 people) on Friday and Saturday evenings every week starting Oct. 11.
During the summer and spring the Octagon space is headquarters for Ice-Cubed, Stone-Miller's specialty ice cream truck concept. Her team is doing something different with the space every fall and winter, she said. Last year, she catered and held private parties.
"This year we decided to do kind of a pop-up underground dinner party," said Stone-Miller, a Galewood resident with a background in fine dining who loves "meticulously-prepared, delicious," aesthetically-pleasing food.
The Octagon Mode aims to bring together strangers and have them interact in a chill environment with live music and no dress code. Stone-Miller said there'll be no one whispering "good evening, sir" when customers step inside — they're more likely to hear "Hey, come on in!"
"Fine dining atmospheres are usually so uptight and not conducive to really having a good time. But what we decided was to have beautiful food but make the whole experience fun," she said.
Stone-Miller promised communal tables where guests will introduce themselves to break the ice and foster friendly vibes throughout the evening. To encourage folks to participate, the reservation process also asks each guest to submit an interesting personal fact. A seat at the modern fine dining affair costs $100, but providing an interesting fact knocks off $15.
Walk-in guests are not accepted.
Stone-Miller explained in a news release announcing the Octagon Mode that her concept is "all about giving diners more choices."
“In cool cities like Madrid, Stockholm and Berlin, people are breaking free from the traditional restaurant model and designing intimate, niche dining projects with unusual concepts," she said.
The first two nights, Oct. 11 and Oct. 12, are already sold out, according to Stone-Miller, who said she is considering adding a third night to the weekly schedule.
Uptowners aren't the only ones looking to enter the Octagon Mode. "People from all over" have shown interest, and the response to the concept so far has been "phenomenal," Stone-Miller said.
"It's a great location and it's easy access, and I don't think people will come from just the neighborhood," she said.