70th birthday celebration
Am getting together with the family for mother-in-laws 70th, none of us are from Chicago although mom and dad lived there till about 10 years ago. Looking for a special place but not too avant garde, not too foo-foo. But not just your basic steak house either. Will be staying at the Drake but will have access to a car so doesn't have to be downtown. Suggestions?!?
One option is North Pond, which is located in Lincoln Park (the actual park, not just the neighborhood of the same name). It is American/Continental, with an emphasis on foods that are local to the midwest (though the menu is much more expansive than that would seem to imply). You have excellent views of the park and the city (and perhaps the lake--I don't remember). It will be on the pricier side of your price range, though. Here's the website: http://www.northpondrestaurant.com/
Greektown has some excellent family-friendly places. Search the boards for past discussions - I know there have been many. These places seem designed to accomodate large crowds (in a good way). Prices are very affordable. Food is excellent, esp. seafood and lamb dishes, at most places.
There are a number of good Italian places that are more "traditional" -- not foo foo. :) Some of my favorites are Merlo and Coco Pazzo (not Coco Pazzo Cafe, which is a different place and, as the name implies, more causal). Both have excellent pastas, meat dishes, and seafood dishes.
Shaw's Crabhouse is a very straight-ahead seafood restaurant downtown. I've always liked it, but haven't been there in a few years. When I say straight-ahead, I mean the opposite of avant-guard. There is also a seafood restaurant in The Drake, though I am sure you want to leave the hotel. If not, I've heard it is pretty good.
Finally, another good option is Mon Ami Gabi, which has a french bistro motif. They are best known for steak frites (french style steaks with fries). The food is excellent. It has a really nice hustle-bustle, but yet elegant atmosphere.
All of the above places have websites where you can see the menu and prices in more detail.
Enjoy your visit!
I agree with the North Pond recommendation. Great food and scenery.
I would recommend Bistro Champagne in Lincoln Square for excellent French bistro fare over Mon Ami Gabi...it's good but not great. Cozy atmosphere as well.
The Rose Bud Steakhouse at 192 E. Walton Street is conveniently located a short walk from the Drake. It's excellent for steak, seafood, and pasta. This relative newcomer restaurant is making waves. Have not been but I hear great reviews over and over again.
Santorini in Greektown at Halsted at Adams has the very best Greek food in town and has beautiful decor...perfect for a large group. Great overall package here; excellent high quality food, atmosphere and decent prices.
I love Bistro Campagne also (it's Campagne, not Champagne; campagne=countryside), but Mon Ami Gabi and Bistro Campagne are very different types of restaurant. Though both are french, Bistro Campagne has classic bistro fare; Mon Ami Gabi is more of a steak frites type of place, even though I described it as a bistro motif, it really isn't. Both are great. Go to Mon Ami Gabi if you want a steak-focused menu and excellent cocktails; go to Bistro Campagne for a more classic menu (rabbit, lamb chops, they also have one steak frites).
And if you don't care to drive, there are a variety of nice places within walking distance:
Bistro Zinc [1131 N State, Chicago, IL 60610-2717 - (312) 337-1131 ] - French - probably my favorite.
Il Mulino [312-440-8888, 1150 N. Dearborn St., Chicago] – A very nice, but also quite expensive - we've been here twice since it opened and enjoyed it both times. On the high side of your price range.
Le Colonial [937 North Rush, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 255-0088] - Website. French Vietnamese - always fun.
I would absolutely second the North Pond recommendation -- ideal for a celebration and great food. One of the most beautiful locations of any restaurant in Chicago. http://www.northpondrestaurant.com
Another spot you might like is Crofton on Wells for French/American food in a quiet and relaxing dining room. http://www.croftononwells.com
I hope this isn't too late for your party...I think Keefer's might be a good option. The steaks are great but it also excels in other areas. The seafood is much better than typical steakhouse offerings. I had an excellent meal there a couple of years ago, and my mom just reported she and a friend had a fantastic seafood meal there three weeks ago (halibut and sole) - and Mom's picky about her seafood.
I second Rosebud on Walton, which is my favorite steakhouse so far. The seafood quality is excellent but much more standard fare than Keefer's preparations. Great for a party, though...the service is top-notch, and the portions are huge enough to serve multiple people.
Mon Ami Gabi is a good steak frites bistro, as Darren72 said, but the steaks don't compare to the previous two I mentioned. We used to go there when we lived close by. My Dad reported the best Duck L'Orange in his life at Mon Ami Gabi.