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"chefy" in the city?

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where would you take your sophisticated, cosmopolitan, well-traveled aunt to catch up over dinner tonight? we'd like something walkable or a quick cab ride from ontario/michigan.

*wishes*
serene, intimate, elegant space for quiet conversation
inventive, artful cuisine
gracious, polished service
open early
"chefy," but not sparse or inaunthentic

*wish to avoid*
chains (obvious)
highly-concepted/themed
touristy
noisy
mexican, french and italian

thanks in advance.

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  1. Here are a few ideas within a short cab ride, and all are open on Monday. I think they fit your criteria in terms of both food and atmosphere.

    1) Crofton on Wells (American) - perfect for conversation; excellent food and service. croftononwells.com

    2) Naha (American/Mediterranean) - I would place this ahead of Crofton on Wells, but it can get a little loud. However, dining early and on a Monday would likely alleviate that concern. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. naha-chicago.com

    3) Kevin (American/Asian) - Excellent food and service and great for conversation, although I must admit I have not been there in a while. kevinrestaurant.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: BRB

      BRB beat me to Crofton on Wells, but based on my experience from a couple of years back, that would be my rec as well. The combination of serene/intimate with artistic/inventive is not as easy to find as you'd expect in the downtown area, altho early on a Monday could open up a lot more possibilities if you wanted to take a chance (nice early prix fixe at CoW, tho; take a look):

      http://www.croftononwells.com/cw/inde...

    2. I really liked HB over in boystown. its BYOB, its small, intimate, and pretty polished. The menu is not very big, the chef always has daily specials, its more contemporary american cuisine without all of the fuss and $$$