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Mar 9, 2010 09:01 AM

Help! Business dinner (college profs) suggestions: Talbott Hotel on Friday

Got a last minute problem to schedule a dinner for about 5 or 6 for this Friday night. I am visiting from NYC and need some help finding a place that is nice (but not Alinea nice) for some college professors. Should be somewhere near or easy to get to from the Talbott Hotel.

No limits on cuisine, but since this is a varied group, probably not something too wacky.

I'm considering trying Naha or Blackbird based on some posts, but any direction or suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks for your help!

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  1. The Talbott is right off Michigan Avenue, and there are numerous excellent restaurants within a 2-3 block walk. There's no need to go all the way to the West Loop (where Blackbird is located).

    A block from the Talbott is IMHO our very best restaurant for contemporary American cuisine (even better than Blackbird or Naha, based on my dinners there). It's called Cafe des Architectes and it's part of the curving glass facade of the Sofitel. Executive Chef Martial Noguier is one of the top chefs in Chicago, and the same is true of Pastry Chef Suzanne Imaz. The food is not too "wacky" for a varied group (there's a steak on the menu, for example). What's also very nice about it is that it's not horribly expensive; much of the menu is a $42 prix fixe 3-course menu.

    If you'd prefer Italian food, Cafe Spiaggia is about two blocks from the Talbott, and is our very best moderately-priced Italian restaurant. It is the sister restaurant of the very fancy and very expensive Spiaggia next door. The two restaurants share the same website, so make sure you click on CAFE when you go to

    If you're looking for steaks and seafood, you might consider Hugo's. Hugo's Frog Bar is a seafood restaurant owned by Gibson's Steakhouse next door, and they share the same kitchen. Hugo's is not as bustling and crazy as Gibson's (which is a "see and be seen" type place). The seafood is excellent and so are the steaks.

    All three of these restaurants, as well as most of our better restaurants, accept reservations at no charge on I just tried checking for a group of 6 at 7:30 this Friday, to see what I'd find. Cafe des Architectes has 6:30 (with 1000 points) and 9:30, but nothing in between; Cafe Spiaggia and Hugo's are both wide open at 7:30 or any other time you want.

    1. I like Naha a lot and you can't go wrong eating there. It's a cab ride from the Talbott. Closer to your hotel (about two blocks away) is the fairly new Italian restaurant "Pelago". It serves some of the best pasta in the city. I like it a lot better than "Cafe Spiaggia" or its fancier and exorbitantly priced sibling "Spiaggia". I've been to Spiaggia (the restaurant) twice in the past month and while the food was good it is nowhere near as good as the price demands. Cafe Spiaggia is good but Pelago bolts past it especially with the pastas. Pelago specializes in seafood and is very reasonably priced for casual fine dining. I tried Cafe des Architectes (walking distance from the Talbott) during restaurant week and was slightly underwhelmed but I suspect that is due to the fact that I was only able to order the restaurant week lunch option and so many other dishes appealed to me on the regular menu. It was obvious that the chef is putting out some very good food and I will defintely return for dinner some time soon.

      I hope this helps!


      2 Replies
      1. re: KateB

        For a group of 6 this Friday on Opentable, Naha has nothing after 6:00, and Pelago has nothing between 5:30 and 9:30. Hugo's and Cafe Spiaggia are still wide open, and Cafe des Architectes still has 6:30 and 9:30.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thank you all so much! The dinner group has become much smaller, but I think that we will give Cafe des Architectes a try!

          In the meantime, I'm planning to hit the chocolate bar on Sat night solo as my reward for working this weekend! Yum!!