romantic anniversary dinner??
i've read several of the posts about romantic spots in chicago but have a few more questions...
our 7th anniversary is the weekend before v-day and i want to eat somewhere new and fantastic. we've only been in chicago for 3 years, but have tried several wonderful places: mk, tizi melloul, spiaggia, room 21, carnivale, marche, red light, hot chocolate, etc.
we want to try something new for this special occasion. we're looking for some place that is very romantic but not too stuffy. also, a place where we won't be rubbing elbows with the next table (like tizi melloul...). we are willing to go anywhere in the city - location is not important. we'd like to spend no more than $300 for the both of us. we don't want to eat and then get take-out on the way home --- which has happened at a couple of these places! so, a place with decent portion size. some place that offers good seafood selections.
what we've been wanting to try: north pond, blackbird, joe's stone crab.
do any of these fit the bill? or do you have any alternate suggestions?
I think North Pond best fits the bill. I ate there twice last year. Once a'la carte with a nice bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape (about $200 for two); and once with the tasting menu with wine pairings (about $350 for two). Both meals were great. Make sure and request the front room with the fireplace and view of the park/skyline.
Blackbird is a great restaurant, but it is most definitely NOT a romantic restaurant. It's very sterile and white. In fact, many of our friends have commented that it really needs a design update. Table spacing can be somewhat tight also.
Can't speak to Joe's Stone Crab.
I second most of what Samharmon says - North Pond would be my 1st choice for this, even if you hadn't mentioned it. As he says, request the front room.
Joe's is an old-boy's-club style steakhouse, except they have lots of seafood. It's an older crowd, similar to what you may find in Gibson's or Morton's, minus some of the volume. It's good, but not spectacular.
I like Blackbird lots, but table spacing issues there are a huge problem. You'll hear every word of every person around you.
I agree with the recommendations for North Pond, as well as those dissuading you from choosing Blackbird and Joe's Steak and Seafood. Not that those other places are bad, of course; they're just not romantic and spacious like you're looking for.
While North Pond would be my first choice, a close second would be one sixtyblue. It's my favorite casual fine dining restaurant in the city. Its food is absolutely spectacular, even better than Blackbird and North Pond, which is high praise because both of those are excellent indeed. I think it's reasonably romantic, too. It's very spacious; you'll never notice the folks at the next table, they're that far away. It's romantic in a contemporary vein; the few interior walls are charcoal gray, there is an open kitchen along one side of the main dining room and windows along the opposite side. www.onesixtyblue.com
However, this is not to dissuade you from North Pond. The food at North Pond is excellent, thanks to Chef Bruce Sherman. And the location in the park is exquisite - even if you end up seated in the inside dining room, with (again) the open kitchen along one wall. Between the setting in the park and the nature of the building, I would pick North Pond over one sixtyblue for those reasons, but you really can't go wrong with either one.
One other possibility is Everest. Everest is one of the very top restaurants in Chicago (comparable to Spiaggia, which you've been to). And I consider it the most romantic restaurant in the city, even more so than North Pond. The service is absolutely exquisite - best service I've ever observed in a restaurant - and what also makes it romantic is the thrilling view from the top (40th) floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building. I've had some of the very best meals in Chicago there. I recently recommended it to a friend for his major birthday celebration and he loved it. You can read another report on Everest at www.chowhound.com/topics/392219 It's not inexpensive; you'll probably come in right around that $300 budget of yours, maybe slightly over, unless you do the pre-theater special (3 courses for $50, 5:00 or 5:30 every night they're open except Fridays), in which case you should be well under. Free parking in the building. Highly recommended. www.everestrestaurant.com
All three of these places - one sixtyblue, North Pond, and Everest - have wonderful, even spectacular food, and all three offer a romantic setting, each in its own way. You can't go wrong with any of them, IMHO.