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Business Dinner Downtown?

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I'm coming to Chicago from New Orleans on business this week, and I'm staying at a Marriot at 165 East Ontario street downtown. I've got to make reservations for dinner Thursday night for four, and hopefully near the hotel.

My past experiences in Chicago include Alinea, which was spectacular, but definitely not what I'm looking for on this occasion. I'd like to eat well, but in a place we can actually talk work.

I'd really appreciate some suggestions. Price is not all that much of an object, as I suppose I'll be reimbursed, but ideally around $125 or less per person for food would be great. I know it's a little late to make reservations for Thursday night, but we can dine early; very early.

Thanks in advance. I freaking love Chicago, and I wish I had more time to spend on this trip. I'm staying over Friday night to have dinner with some friends, and flying out on Saturday afternoon.

This, of course, assumes that the weather allows me to travel in the first place.

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  1. Shaw's crab house is just out the back door of the Marriott, superb seafood. a chain, but always reliable, Houstons is also less than one block. A short cab ride for a truly fine meal is to the Erie Street cafe. Mostly local business diners. Very, very good steaks and seafood. Also a short ride and always good, Eli's Steak House.

    1 Reply
    1. re: stumpworks73

      Eli's The Place For Steak is not "always good" - at least, not since 2005, the year they closed their doors. ;)

    2. Thanks folks, I'll be checking back over the next couple of days.

      I really appreciate the help. I hope anyone coming to New Orleans checks the board there, and please also feel free to email me or check out my website: http://www.appetites.us

      1. According to Metomix, the Houston is closed. Close to your hotel are the following which have gotten good reviews on this site and others.

        Bandera Restaurant - 535 N. Michigan Ave
        Coco Pazzao - 636 N. St Clair St
        Les Nomades 222 E. Ontario

        1. Joe's Stone Crab, although technically a "chain" (and owned by Lettuce Entertain You) is really, really good. It also is right out the back door of the Marriott.

          Houstons and Eli's indeed are both closed.

          1. Thanks again. I've got some good leads now. From their websites, either Coco Pazzo or Les Nomades would work very well, I think.

            1. First, a comment: you are staying in the hotel called the Courtyard Chicago. Those posting above noting restaurants "right out the back door" appear to be referring to the Marriott hotel at 520 N Michigan, which is around a block and a half away.

              I have some recommendations VERY close to your hotel, but first, I have a question: What, exactly, are you looking for in a place for a business dinner?

              To elaborate on the question: I know that I've had different needs for different business dinners. Sometimes I need to discuss business, in which case I want a place that is relatively quiet and comfortable, and where the staff are experienced enough to recognize when to approach the table and when to leave us alone. Sometimes I'm looking for a place for more of a "fun" business dinner, where we're just looking for a good time, but I also want impressively good food. And sometimes I'm looking for a "splurge" restaurant (such as to celebrate an accomplishment) which will knock everyone's socks off.

              Depending on what you're looking for, I'm sure you can find a suitable place within a block or so of the Courtyard. Here are places that are VERY close:

              1. Viand is right inside your hotel. I haven't been there, but the menu on their website sounds like it might be very suitable, and the convenience is obvious (especially in bad weather). www.viandchicago.com

              Just a few steps away, you have:

              2. Bice, for Italian food - www.bicechicago.com

              3. The Capital Grille, a top steakhouse - www.thecapitalgrille.com/Locations/Ch...

              4. Coco Pazzo Cafe - This is a second location of the Italian restaurant (the original is located further west) - www.cocopazzocafe.com

              5. Les Nomades - As previously mentioned, this is a fine dining destination - www.lesnomades.com

              6. David Burke's Primehouse - Another excellent steakhouse - www.davidburke.com/primehouse.html

              Tru is also very close and excellent but it won't meet your stated budget.

              All of these are within a block of the Courtyard Chicago.

              Bice, Coco Pazzo Cafe, The Capital Grille, and Les Nomades all accept reservations on opentable.com

              Your hotel has a concierge desk and they may be able to assist, not only with advice for your specific needs, but also with obtaining reservations if you encounter any difficulty doing so yourself.

              1. Just a note on the above: some excellent suggestions and the steakhouses (DB's and Capital are particularly good for business talk). You should be aware, tho, that Les Nomades is a high-end French restaurant, one that I think of as a "special occasion" venue (we went there on our anniversary a couple of years back, as a matter-of-fact, and were very pleased with the food and the atmosphere (staid, comfy, romantic)), and if you're not careful with the wine you could exceed your $125/per.

                1. I agree - Les Nomades is charming, good and a quiet place where you should be able to conduct business. It's near your hotel. Also, Cafe Spiaggia.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Francophile

                    Cafe Spiaggia is a long walk or a short cab ride away. It's not a bad place, but with two excellent Italian options on the same block as the Courtyard Chicago, it's not worth the extra distance.

                    1. re: Francophile

                      Les Nomades isn't a great business venue, IMO... the tables are cramped, you have to sit face to face with one party facing a wall... much more a "haute foodie" or romantic destination than for business... especially if you have any paperwork to look over, forget it... just my opinion.

                    2. This is superb, thanks.

                      I am going to need to discuss business during the dinner, so atmosphere is an issue, but we won't be throwing documents around or dragging out laptops. I'm really just not sure how adventurous at least one of my guests is going to be, which is my only hesitation where Les Nomades is concerned; the $125 was really intended just for the food.

                      David Burke's Primehouse looks really interesting, as does Cafe Spiaggia. When my wife was in town a couple of years ago, she ate at Spiaggia and brought me home a menu. Might be interesting to check out S's little brother?

                      I'm really leaning towards Tru though. I know what I said about the cost, but, well... I figure the odds I can get a table for 4 on Thursday night are pretty slim anyway, so if I can, I might as well go for it.

                      Thanks again for all the information and thoughts.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Peyton

                        I think Tru would be a big mistake - at that price point I'd go to Everest (a taxi ride) or, as mentioned, Les Nomades.

                        1. re: Francophile

                          I like Everest a lot; in fact, when I started thinking about this topic, I was going to mention it. It's actually somewhat lower in price than Tru, the food and service are both outstanding, the atmosphere is perfect for a business dinner, particularly with the wonderful view from the top of the Chicago Stock Exchange building. However, if most of the four people attending the business dinner are staying at the Courtyard Chicago, the proximity of Tru (or Les Nomades) is a HUGE convenience factor, and that's why I decided not to mention Everest.

                          This is the same reason I did not mention Avenues, another spectacular Chicago restaurant about four blocks from the hotel.

                          Both Everest and Avenues are as spectacular as Tru. And all of them take reservations on opentable.com

                      2. >> I'm really leaning towards Tru though. I know what I said about the cost, but, well... I figure the odds I can get a table for 4 on Thursday night are pretty slim anyway, so if I can, I might as well go for it. <<

                        As of right now, you shouldn't have any problem making a reservation for this Thursday night at Tru. I just checked on opentable.com and they're wide open, even for the treasured 7:30 pm slot.

                        1. Thanks again for the recommendations. I ended up choosing Les Nomades. The only downside to which is that I did not inform the other members of my party that a jacket is required. It just didn't occur to me, since I'd wear a jacket to dinner out of habit. They do have jackets to loan, so it's not a deal-breaker.

                          I had lunch today at Bice, and it was very good. Octopus carpaccio with avocado, hearts of palm and arugula salad, and the orreciette with sausage and broccoli raab. Very nice, though now I need a nap before my 3:00 meeting.

                          I hope if any of you get to New Orleans that you find the local chowhound board as helpful as I've found yours.

                          Thanks again.