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Best Loop Restaurant Before Seeing Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre?

l
ljero Dec 4, 2009 03:21 PM

We are headed to a festive night on the town to see the Nutcracker, and would like an upscale early dinner beforehand.Any recommendations for something close by? We used to go to Rhapsody, but it has not been sogood in recenttimes. We'd prefer a Nahaorsomething of that nature, but I think we'd be in a time crunch to go there after work, and then get to AT for a 7pm show...any other ideas? The Gage is too loud; would prefer something more refined for a nice night out. Thanks!

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  1. nsxtasy Dec 4, 2009 03:29 PM

    What's tricky is the timing. Some places don't open till 6:00, and even 5:30 is iffy at a nicer restaurant. Of course, you will let the restaurant know of your time constraint when making your reservation.

    My top two upscale picks near the Auditorium are:

    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) - www.mercatchicago.com
    Custom House (contemporary American) - www.customhouse.cc

    Both accept reservations for 5:00, when they open. Custom House is more similar to Naha in that its cuisine is more mainstream, with an emphasis on meats but also with seafood and vegetarian dishes on the menu. Mercat's cuisine is more unusual, with lots of dishes you've probably never had before. Custom House is also probably a better bet given the timing involved. At Mercat, because of the small plates format, you would probably end up getting served in many more courses than the standard 3-course app/main/dessert, and the extra courses involve extra time for waiting, clearing, etc. (Last time I was there, four of us ordered 14 dishes, and I think most were served two at a time.) I enjoyed Mercat but I would suggest Custom House given the 7:00 showtime.

    If you think you'll need more time than a 5:00 reservation allows, the Berghoff (German - www.theberghoff.com ) and Park Grill (American - www.parkgrillchicago.com ) are open all afternoon, so you could get a 4:30 reservation at either one. Both have very good food and they're quite nice, although a bit more casual than the previous two recommendations.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy
      nsxtasy Dec 5, 2009 06:06 AM

      One more thought. My most recent dinner at Custom House, I loved my appetizer (sweetbreads) and entree (short rib), but I was disappointed in the desserts. So if you find yourselves pressed for time and you decide to skip dessert, you won't be missing anything. You can always go out after the theater for coffee and dessert some other place.

      1. re: nsxtasy
        l
        ljero Dec 5, 2009 06:15 AM

        Thanks,Nsxtasy. I really wanted to do Everest, but they do not open until 5:30p.m. Have you been to CH since Shawn McClain left? I was wondering if it was as god as before.

        If only we had a 7:30pm time, like the opera start time...that extra half an hour would realy help! Anything else around for a great dessert thereafter?

        1. re: ljero
          nsxtasy Dec 5, 2009 08:57 AM

          No, I haven't been to Custom House since Aaron Deal took over in September (and didn't even know about it until your post prompted me to look at their Metromix listing; the restaurant's own website doesn't mention anything about the change in chefs).

          I assume this isn't a Saturday. Everest opens at 5:00 pm on Saturdays, but the other days it's 5:30, and it's bound to be tight - although it might be worth calling them to ask whether they could have you out of there in time for the show, maybe they could. And of course they have that special pre-theater menu for an early seating, 3 courses for $50.

          I like the desserts at Atwood Cafe in the Burnham, but that's a bit far from the Auditorium. I haven't been to Lockwood in the Palmer House but that might be a possibility (for after-theater dessert as well as for pre-theater dinner per jbw's suggestion - they open at 5:00).

    2. j
      jbw Dec 5, 2009 06:56 AM

      You might want to give Lockwood a look:

      http://www.lockwoodrestaurant.com/

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