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Sense restaurant to replace Siam Thai, will offer 'eclectic' cuisine

With Siam Thai serving its last meal this February, a long-time South Bend chef is looking to take over the space to open a restaurant with cuisine like no other in the city.

Chefs Eamonn McParland and Donté Shaw have leased the property at 211 N. Main St. to house their upcoming restaurant, Sense. They’re still conceptualizing the menu, McParland said, but they are working closely with local farmers to see what produce they’ll be able to work with once Sense opens its doors.

“It’s something I always wanted to do since I was a kid.”

McParland says they want to offer something different from other South Bend restaurants, something that will appeal to the five senses — which he said is also the inspiration for the restaurant’s name.

“We want it to be different and to not be a steak-and-potatoes sort of place,” McParland said. “We will have unique ingredients prepared cleverly in the style of avant-garde and eclectic cuisine.”

McParland’s wife, Sandra, will design the restaurant and, though they’re still nailing down the specifics, he expects the interior to be modern and refined.

Sense will take over not only the Siam Thai space but also the property next door. The restaurant will feature a dining area which will seat 50 people, as well as a lounge area seating 20 and an open kitchen.

He stresses that the quality of the food is more important than filling a big restaurant. They’re looking to work with farmers from Michigan and Indiana, most of whom McParland has come to know through the South Bend Farmers Market.

“It’s something I always wanted to do since I was a kid,” McParland said. “Now that it’s happening, it’s exciting and stressful, but it’s a good stress.”

McParland and Shaw bring years of experience in the restaurant business to Sense.

McParland worked as executive chef at Café Navarre for the last nine months and worked as chef de cuisine and sous chef at LaSalle Grill for five years. Donté Shaw works as a sous chef at Café Navarre and has worked at the Alinea Restaurant in Chicago. They’ll both still be working there for a few more months before taking some time to prepare for the Sense’s opening.

They expect to open the restaurant before the start of summer.

Editor’s note – The original version of this story indicated McParland had been at LaSalle for eight years. We’re sorry for the error.

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