By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jul 13, 2009 at 4:31 PM

The big signs covering the windows of the forthcoming Chic Lounge promised patrons a new bar and restaurant on the corner of Jackson Street and Corcoran Avenue in June, but co-owners Rita Anderson and Denita Sublett knew not to rush a good thing.

It's taken a few weeks longer than anticipated, but the grand opening for the Third Ward's latest lounge is set in stone for Tuesday, July 21. A ribbon-cutting ceremony commences at 11 a.m. at 133 N. Jackson St.

Anderson uses words like "upscale" and "posh" to describe the lounge, which she says caters to the professionals and residents in the Third Ward.

If you were ever at its former inhabitant, the short-lived Viridarium, it'll look familiar in style and function. The vibrant greens and warm earth-tones are still present, as are the small clusters of high-top tables seating two to four guests between a long, stone bar and large picture windows facing the expanse of the Henry W. Maier Festival Grounds and beyond that, Lake Michigan's harbor.

Anderson and Sublett have certainly added their own touch to the place, though. A gathering of leather couches, love seat and chairs circle coffee tables near the entrance, making for a comfortable conversation area for patrons less interested in the plasma screens surrounding the bar area.

Although the lounge has a lengthy wine and cocktail menu -- from the classic choices to site-specific specialties such as the Le Chic 'tini, a combination of sparkling liqueur, Malibu rum, and fruit juices, and the Third Ward Jade, a Midori mixture made with Champagne and lime juice -- Anderson, who doesn't drink alcohol, has made sure Chic is equally as enjoyable as a restaurant.

The kitchen is open at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday (and Monday during football season) and at noon Saturday and Sunday for lunch and serves dinner until an astonishing 1 a.m.

Offering late-night food was something that Denita and I felt strongly about, "especially after going out ourselves and not having anywhere to eat Downtown at 11 p.m. or midnight."

While the menu isn't focused on one particular ethnicity or cuisine, it finds inspiration in Cajun cooking and puts a special focus on seafood.

The salmon nachos are an immediate standout.

"They are a concoction from a family member of mine," she says of the fish and chips combination. "At first, I didn't know...but they are actually really good; they are awesome."

Expect your standard nacho toppings with an additional "secret sauce" over a plate of fresh tortilla chips. And the menu expands from there: pastry wraps with various meats, sandwiches filled with Cajun chicken, grilled tilapia or roast beef; jumbo shrimp on skewers with choice of flavors: Cajun, barbeque, jerk or teriyaki; pizzas made to order, salads and grilled veggies.

"We like to think of Chic Lounge as both a bar and a restaurant," says Anderson. "People can come here and enjoy sports, or watch the news, listen to music, or have a nice meal after work."

Chic Lounge is a non-smoking establishment and offers WiFi.



Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”