By way of Ben Pao and Bartlett, the collaboration of a Lettuce Entertain You Executive and an innovative Szechwan chef breaks ground in Barrington.
Confused about the origins of PL8? Let’s start at the beginning. Not the very beginning, which would be in the Sichuan Province of Southwest China, but at Ben Pao. Ed Culleeney, a member of the Lettuce Entertain You team since 1985 and Ben Pao’s vice president, would roam the city and suburbs searching out innovative Chinese cuisine, trying to find ways to improve his own menu. The word on the street was that some of the freshest, most creative Szechwan cooking was happening in the far western Suburbs.
Enter Shawn Li, the owner of the TL Four Season’s Restaurant in Bartlett. It was at Li’s restaurant where Culleeney did indeed find Chinese cuisine with that “wow” factor, even if it was in the most unsuspecting location. Li discovered a kindred spirit in a most unsuspecting “white guy” with a very discerning palette who became a regular customer and a friend. Bo’s Recommendation” list which includes chicken, beef, garlic chicken and other dish
When investors approached Li about a new place in Barrington, he brought in Culleeney. PL8’s “Simply Asian” concept features a wide variety of both Chinese and Japanese menu items as well as a cuisine-inspired, handcrafted cocktail menu. The décor mixes Asian-themed light fixtures, a sushi window and a sunken bar. Interestingly, the stools for the bar are tree stumps made of 1,000 year old petrified wood from China.
The seeds for PL8 may have been scattered elsewhere, but the roots are firmly planted in Barrington.