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Graduation Dinner in June

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I'm looking for a place to take my parents and a few friends for my graduation dinner this upcoming June. I want it to be a nice, upscale place - the environment is very important to me (think tie + slacks at the least).

I'm thinking of spending around $60-100 / person, so does anyone have any specific recommendations? The cuisine isn't really an issue, but nothing too unique (aka Alinea) because I don't think my guests would necessarily appreciate that haha.

Thanks in advance! (:

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  1. I would suggest Topolobampo - Rick Bayless' high end restaurant - do not know if gourmet Mexican is too 'unique' - but it is one of my favorites -

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    Topolobampo
    445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    1. There may be a bit of a disconnect in what you've specified.

      We have a lot of very nice restaurants with great food, places that most people would consider "upscale", and are in your stated price range. However, the predominant attire at such places is "business casual" - slacks and shirts with collars or sweaters, but most gentlemen do NOT wear ties in these places. One would not be out of place wearing a tie, though. Is that okay?

      If not, and you are looking for places in which most of the men wear ties, we also have about eight or so restaurants in which jacket and tie is required or recommended, and most gentlemen wear jackets and most of those wear ties, but those places are above your stated price range. The least expensive of those are places (Everest and NoMI) where I would expect to spend maybe $150 or so per person including moderate alcohol; the others are typically $200 or more per person.

      I like to distinguish these two kinds of restaurants by referring to the former as "casual fine dining" and the latter as "high-end fine dining".

      Assuming a "casual fine dining" type place is okay, since an upscale setting is important to you, I would give a strong recommendation for North Pond ( www.northpondrestaurant.com ). It offers excellent contemporary American food with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients from James Beard Award nominated Chef Bruce Sherman. What makes it unique is its exquisite setting in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park itself, not the adjacent neighborhood of the same name). It faces its namesake pond, with the city skyline towering over the opposite shore. The renovated building formerly served as a warming shelter for ice skaters on the pond. It's very upscale and enjoyable, whether you're sitting in the front room with the big windows facing the pond, or the rear room with the open kitchen along one side of the room.

      Another place I like very much is Cafe des Architectes ( www.cafedesarchitectes.com ), which is in the front of the architecturally distinguished Sofitel luxury hotel. The atmosphere is upscale bistro, and the food is sinfully wonderful.

      I can think of several other places that are upscale but a lot of such places are overly noisy and rather crowded/cramped, and I suspect that's not what you're looking for. So I'll leave these two as my top recommendations.

      Also, these places are in the city; I'm assuming that your visitors will be staying in the downtown hotel district. If that is not the case, and you would like recommendations in the suburbs, give us an idea of where people will be located and we can try to recommend a place in that general area.