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Mar 15, 2007 10:13 AM

Extraordinary B-Day Dinner for my Husband's 33rd!

Looking for a "wow" place to celebrate my husband's b-day. I'm considering, first and foremost, Everest - but not sure if it's too stuffy. We love fine dining and wonderful food, but the atmosphere is key. (He took me to Les Nomades for my birthday in January and had a wonderful time - fancy, but not too stuffy...)

Other options: Avenues, Le Lan, Blackbird...

I know there must be many more great places I'm not thinking about - any ideas?? What about Italian (other than Spiaggia or Cafe Spiaggia)?

Price doesn't really matter (though probably not more than a few hundred dollars max!), as long as it's a great total dining experience! Also very open to any kind of cuisine...


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  1. Everest is an excellent choice - spectacular food, spectacular service, spectacular view. I can't think of a better place for "wow" and "extraordinary". (Their service is exquisite and not at all stuffy, unless you automatically consider a restaurant where all the men wear jackets as stuffy.)

    Basically, any of the very top chefs and restaurants in Chicago would work:

    1. Alinea - Grant Achatz -
    2. Everest - Jean Joho -
    3. Charlie Trotter's - Charlie Trotter -
    4. Avenues - Graham Elliot Bowles -
    5. Tru - Rick Tramonto -
    6. NoMi - Christophe David -
    7. Schwa - Michael Carlson -
    8. moto - Homaro Cantu -
    9. Spiaggia - Tony Mantuano -

    However, Alinea, Tru, and Trotter's would probably cost you more than that "few hundred dollars". (Figure $200-400 per person including moderate alcohol and tax/tip for these three, with Everest and the others more typically in the $125-175 range per person.)

    The other question to ask yourself is whether you want a "formal/dress-up" place vs a "casual fine dining" place. The above places are all dress-up places, with some of the most creative cuisine in town. If you would prefer a place that's a bit more casual in style, with wonderful "wow" food (but maybe not quite as creative), then you might consider the more casual places, such as Aigre Doux, One Sixty Blue, Blackbird, Avec, mk, Spring, Custom House, Naha, Sweets and Savories, various steakhouses, etc. Most of these more casual places are typically in the $75-125 range per person, incl tax/tip and moderate alcohol.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      It's unclear whether when you say "the above places are all dress-up" you mean just Alinea, Tru, and Trotter's or your entire list. Just to clear up the ambiguity, it should be noted that Schwa is definitely not a dress-up required restaurant.

    2. As to the "stuffiness quotient" at Everest, I would say that it is equivalent to Les Nomades. In fact, if anything, I find Nomades a little stiffer. So, if that is the only thing keeping your from Everest and you found Nomades to your taste, I say go to Everest.

      2 Replies
      1. re: masha

        Thank you all so very much for this feedback - it is great help. And thank you, nsxtacy, for your wonderful list. I appreciate it so much! I've toyed with each of these at some point, but I do think I'll stick with Everest... I've heard nothing but great things. Thanks again, everyone!

        1. re: DKS1

          I'd agree about Everest. We went for our first anniversary (ok its been awhile) but it is still in our top 3 most enjoyable food. We don't go crazy but have been to Tru, Les Nomades, Ritz and a few others in that class. Try to get a table by the window-great view of the lights.

      2. It was recently announced that Ambria will close at the end of June. This is an experience not to be missed. Fabulous continental cuisine, a beautiful setting, exquisite service. One of my favorites.