Bar in Evanston
I am going to Evanston, afterwords I need to take a couple of researchers out for a glass of wine or three. Where to go?
Price is not an issue at all, irrelevant, but I should mention that we are all Europeans, so we will probably need some quiet... You know, Berlin and Oslo is kind of more old-fashioned than Chicago :-)
My top recommendation:
They offer 32 wines by the glass. And no, it's not noisy. It's a very nice restaurant/bar.
I should add that Evanston does not have stand-alone bars; it's a municipal requirement that places that serve alcohol also serve food. (It's only relatively recently that Evanston opened its first liquor store; it was "dry" - no alcohol - for many years, thanks to its history as the home of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.)
Wine Spectator Magazine has given their Award of Excellence to 94 restaurants in Illinois, and you can see the complete list here:
Click on the column headings to sort by restaurant name, city, or award.
Four of the restaurants are in Evanston (and have been winning the magazine's award for years), and three of those show their wine list on their websites, including the Stained Glass. The Stained Glass has more of a wine emphasis than the others (the other three are very small in the area alotted to the bar). If you're considering having food along with your wine, all of the four are excellent in both departments, food and wine. Here are the other three:
Chef's Station (New American)
915 Davis St. Davis Metra Station, Ground floor
Website: www.chefs-station.com (wine list not shown)
All four of these are relatively quiet.
Evanaston is not known for its bars.
For a glass of wine in a somewhat quiet evnviroment, I'd recommend The Stained Glass Wine Bar Bistro (superb wine selection but limited space especially on the weekends). Gio, 1631 Chicago Ave (nice bar plenty of room and decent selection of wines). Petite Ameila, 618 Church St. (small but okay selection of wines by the glass).
Oceanique and Chefs Station have very small bars (really to small to enjoy drinks with a couple of friends) but good wines selections. And there is the lively but okay bar areas of Wolfgang Pucks, 1701 Maple Street and Davis Street Fishmarket, 501 Davis St.
These are good suggestions (and match mine pretty well).
The bar areas are small in each of the places we both mentioned. It's a bit larger at both Wolfgang Puck's Grand Cafe and Davis Street, which (as EvanstonFoodGuy indicates) are not quite as quiet as the previous recommendations.
If you are at any of these restaurants at a time when they are not busy and have a lot of empty tables - on the early side or on the late side, during the week - they probably wouldn't mind if you sat at a table, even if you are only having wine and not food.
All of the above places except Oceanique are within a few blocks of each other, so if you try one and find that space is not available, it's easy to walk to one of the others.
Incidentally, the name of The Stained Glass derives from a wine glass that has been used, and not from the colored glass used as a design feature in architecture.
I agree with EvanstonFoodGuy. Wolfgang Puck's Grand Cafe is fine for a drink, although it is not as quiet as the other restaurants previously mentioned. I've eaten at Puck's numerous times and have found that the food is consistently good, although not at the same outstanding level as that at any of the four restaurants mentioned by Wine Spectator (but neither are the food prices).
Two weeks ago I went to Tapas Barcelona for a glass of wine with friends, and was not very happy with the experience. There are high tables with barstools right next to the bar but they do not permit them to be used for those there just for drinks, even when the restaurant is nearly empty. They were less than gracious about telling us, too. I do NOT recommend Tapas Barcelona for those there only for a glass of wine.
Stained glass is great. I would also suggest prarie moon. Puck's wine list is less than great. I would not even say that it is good.
You might also consider va pensiero:
1566 Oak Ave.
Va Pensiero stands out among the North Shore's finest Italian restaurants. Located inside the historic Margarita European Inn, the look here is decidedly Italy in the 1920s. The menu is seasonally inspired; we like the pan-sautéed tiger shrimp with pistachio pesto and pork tenderloin with caramelized fennel and prosciutto. An extensive wine list features a nice variety of reasonably priced Italian wines; if you've been saving a special bottle at home, you can bring it along for a $15 corkage fee. During the summer, head out to the garden terrace. Be aware that management tactfully enforces the dress code, which it describes as "evening casual."
1710 Orrington Ave.
In the Hotel Orrington
Which have fantastic wine lists. Call Va Pensiero first, as I can't remember if there is a place to drink there or if it just sit down. Nara is great because it is in town.
Narra has been closed for at least six months. And ALL of the above places are not only "in town", but within 2-3 blocks of each other (except Oceanique, which is a mile south of the others).
As noted in Metromix, "Blu, a new spot from the folks behind Blu Coral, Sushi Ai and Starfish is opening in the space in late spring."
I think that the Stained Glass recommendation probably fits your needs best of all the places nearest to campus. But as others have noted - none of these places is a bar, or even a wine bar - though Stained Glass calls themselves that. You'll want to make a reservation at Stained Glass to make sure you get a table, because even though they do have a bar, it's hard for 3 people to have a conversation at a bar - and the bar is where they put people who are waiting for tables, so you can't ensure that you'll have seats available there!