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Comfortable but delicious business dinner

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New Yorker coming into Chicago for dinner with clients. I've searched the boards and seen a lot of great-sounding places, but thought I'd post what specifically I am looking for and maybe narrow down the sea of recommendations (excuse me while I mix my metaphors)....Trying to find a place that is great local seasonal food, but in a fairly relaxed atmosphere--I've never met some of the people I am dining with so trying to avoid somewhere too fussy and awkward. Neighborhood and price aren't too much of an issue--what's the most interesting place to eat? I want somewhere appropriately amazing to demonstrate my great taste (as in, you-guys-on-the-boards's great taste) but somewhere unintimidating where everyone can relax. Where am I talking about?

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  1. That sounds like North Pond to me. Great view, great food, all local/seasonal. In the center of Lincoln Park, near the zoo and the boat pond.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Pete Oldtown

      Just called them--sadly they only seat large parties (we're 6 people) at 5:30 or 8, and i think we've got to get in inbetween those hours....

      1. re: jbrtwo

        That's kinda strange. I can see a party of 10 or something, but six ain't that many. Keeping the relaxed part in mind, perhaps Forno (modern Italian, sort of) in Wicker Park (great people watching) or the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, which in my experience is a lot less fussy than I would have imagined and has great food.

        I'm sure others will have suggestions. A lot of the places that get raves here are either very fussy or very noisy, in my experience.

      2. re: Pete Oldtown

        One of my favorites for business dinners (and they are very accommodating to smaller groups), particularly one that appeals to a variety of non-exotic tastes, is Custom House:

        http://www.customhouse.cc/

        1. re: jbw

          Agreed on the Custom House recommendation. That was the first restaurant that came to mind after reading your requirements.

      3. I would recommend Nana as a great option, especially when you're talking about "local seasonal food" and "fairly relaxed atmosphere." It's business casual; the food is wonderful; the service on the mark, but definitely not fussy and should be easy for everyone to find something they like.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          You're speaking of Naha, I take it? There is a Nana Bistro on Lincoln Ave., but I didn't think that was what you meant.

          Naha would be a great choice. I also think Crofton would be great...not too stuffy but definitely impressive.

          1. re: sis2catbat

            Yes, I meant Naha. Sorry about the typo. One other option in the same category would be MK. It's been a while since I've been there, but I still hear good things.

        2. Too bad about North Pond, that would have been my first choice. Naha is also good, and I would seriously consider Crofton on Wells. Seasonal, relaxed, and a varied menu that will have something for everyone.