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Apr 28, 2010 11:19 AM

Sable Kitchen & Bar

I'll be in Chicago with some folks from work and we're staying at the new Kimpton, Hotel Palomar on North State St.. I was wondering if anyone has tried the restaurant there? and, if so, what did you think? I'd be curious to know what other spots Chicago Hounds would recommend in the area.

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  1. It's new and I haven't been there. Metromix has a photo tour:

    Other recommended places within a few blocks:

    Shaw's (seafood) -
    Brasserie Jo (French bistro) -
    David Burke's Primehouse (steaks) -
    Topolobampo/Frontera Grill -
    Quartino (Italian small plates) -
    Sunda (pan-Asian) -
    Uno/Due (deep-dish pizza) -
    Pops (wine bar) -
    India House (Indian) -
    Vermilion (Indian-Latin) -
    Naha (contemporary American) -

    2 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        I completely agree with Primehouse( in my opinion, the best steak in Chicago), NAHA. Frontera/ Topolobambo, and the new revamped Brasserie Jo. Also, Prosecco, and BLUE 13(!!!) if you're in the River North area. Both are worth seeking out.

        710 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610

      2. I ate dinner at Sable last week, and I think it's great.

        Sable is hidden inside in the new Hotel Palomar in River North. I say "hidden" because there is very little signage for the restaurant - none in the hotel lobby off which it's located, and the exterior has a sign on the south side of the building which you can't see when you're standing in front of the hotel. The décor is contemporary. And the only criticism I have is that the dining room is very loud, even when it's not full (it wasn't last Thursday evening). But it was nice to watch the open kitchen, with Chef Terhune working hard alongside her staff. She certainly made her mark heading Atwood Café for ten years, and she's doing it again at Sable. I had been looking forward to trying Sable after enjoying her cuisine at Atwood and after looking at the menus on Sable's website. I would encourage anyone to check out the menus on their website and see if they strike the same appeal in you as they did for me. Oh, and I'm not much of a drinker, but from what I could see from the cocktail menu (which you can check out on their website), their drink offerings are among the best anywhere in the city; it's no surprise their staff includes master mixologists and veterans from the Violet Hour.

        One great thing about the menu at Sable is that most of the dishes are available in full portions and half portions, so you can mix and match whatever you like in whatever order you like. Half orders let you try more items, and heck, you can always order another half if you like something and have room for more.

        I started with a half order of the steamed Blue Hill mussels ($10), which were great - a bit small but very tasty, and the portion size was very generous (it certainly didn't seem like a half portion). The broth was nicely flavored, not only with garlic, chunks of tomato, and white wine, but a bit of chili pepper to give it a nice kick. They were served with several pieces of toast to sop up the broth.

        I then had a half order of the pretzel crusted fried calamari with honey-mustard sauce ($5). Calamari can be tricky to cook, but these were cooked absolutely perfectly, so they were moist and tender without being even the slightest bit rubbery. The honey-mustard sauce was quite spicy (but nicely so), and the kick made me think of Chinese mustard, even though it used a whole-grain mustard.

        For my "main" course, I had a half portion of the bison short rib sliders with root beer glaze ($7). I love short ribs, and these were as good as any I've had in the entire city. As they were billed as sliders, they were served on two smallish pretzel rolls. The root beer glaze was not prominent, but oh well. Again, the portion size was very generous; the two pieces of short ribs were comparable in size to the amount typically served as an entrée in many restaurants for 2-3 times the price.

        As an accompaniment, I had the sweet corn crème brulee ($8). This was another standout dish! Just like it sounds, it consisted of kernels of sweet corn in a custard, although the texture of the custard was silky and moist, more like a typical flan in texture than the typically denser/firmer crème brulee. Just like the crème brulee dessert, it was topped with sugar run under a flame, but they then sprinkled coarse sea salt on top, and it all worked perfectly. It took a while to eat, because it is served in the mini cast iron skillet in which it was cooked, so it was very hot and stayed hot for a long time.

        I can typically eat a lot, but after these four courses (three of them half-orders), I was comfortably full, so I passed on dessert, even though the desserts sounded as great as everything else on the menu. When I was first ordering, I was wondering how big the portions would be, given the half orders and the low prices; as it turned out, though, they were quite generous. Getting four items for $30 from one of the top chefs in the city is quite a bargain; I can only assume that they make most of their money off the cocktails and other alcoholic beverages rather than the food.

        The service was similarly outstanding. My server, Rachael, had a great attitude - casual, friendly, and helpful, in a spirit of "we're here to have fun and - wink, wink - I'll try to give you the inside scoop where you need it".

        All the food was thoroughly excellent, and the relatively low food prices make it a bargain as well.

        Sable Kitchen & Bar
        Hotel Palomar
        505 North State Street
        Chicago 60654

        4 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          This is a great place for a bite and a drink. Extensive, interesting cocktail menu, and casual, friendly, helpful staff to help navigate it. Also got the crem brûlée corn described above-- great interplay of salty and sweet, creamy and crunchy. Wish the sugar crust wasn't quite so thick and sweet, but an otherwise outstanding dish.

          1. re: rose water

            I'll add that for out of towers visiting Chicago and staying at the downtown Marriott or any of the zillion other hotels in this neighborhood, this is a nice local option. Now just need to find myself breakfast...

            1. re: rose water

              >> Now just need to find myself breakfast...

              You'll find recommendations in this discussion:

              River North Breakfast Ideas -

              1. re: nsxtasy

                That's a great link, thanks. Unfortunately, I didn't see it in time. I ended up walking over to Intelligentsia, where I got the most delicious, balanced, smooth latte imaginable, a super moist bran muffin with tons of currants and apple pieces, and far too many bags of beans to take home.

        2. This past Saturday night, we went back to Sable for dinner, and it was absolutely superb once again. We arrived at 5:30 when it was mostly empty, and of course it filled up as dinner went on. Chef was out of town this time, but her staff adhered to her recipes and her high standards of deliciousness!

          We started by ordering four half-portions of appetizers, and holding onto the menus for additional courses. The first of these was the "Veal Meatballs: gorgonzola-walnut cream sauce", five 1.5-inch spheres of delight, and the sauce was as rich as it sounds. Terrific. Next were three bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with bleu cheese, a great mixture of richness, smokiness, sweetness, and sharpness. The next dish may have been the best of the entire dinner: "Corned Beef Reuben Strudel: thousand island dressing", which came as five "bites", each about half the size of a small Chinese egg roll, with a wonderful balance of corned beef, cheese, strudel leaves, and an excellent thousand island. The fourth dish in this round was the least interesting of the entire dinner, and it still wasn't bad - fried green tomatoes (three slices) with whipped basil goat cheese. They were good, but what Chef Terhune is so good at is making the food burst with intense flavor in your mouth, and these didn't have the same impact as the other dishes.

          We continued by ordering three more savory dishes. The first were the "Pork Spare Ribs: Kansas style BBQ". Although these may have sounded rather ordinary, they weren't; they were wonderful. They were nicely chewy and meaty (virtually no fat), and done with perhaps the best barbecue sauce I have ever had, with a great balance of sweet, spicy, and flavorful. Next up was the "Pistachio Duck Sausage: parmesan grits, sour cherries", which was just amazing. I think of duck, and pistachio, and grits as very mild flavors, but not from Chef Terhune; these were bursting with intense flavor, slightly spicy, and just wonderful, another "best of dinner" candidate! The third dish is one I've had previously, the sweet corn crème brulee, one of my favorite dishes anywhere, a savory riff on the classic dessert. This is topped with cracked sea salt, which creates a nice counterpoint to the caramelized sugar. The corn was unusually tender and flavorful; I wouldn't be surprised if it had been picked within the previous day or so (Chef is a supporter of Green City Market).

          Finally, it was on to the desserts. We had the Orange Buttermilk Panna Cotta, which we both pronounced one of the best panna cottas we have ever had, with the orange and buttermilk flavors mildly flavoring the dessert, and served with two yummy shortbread cookies alongside. We also had the "Warm Rhubarb Crumble with Brown Sugar Crumbs, Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream", which was very nice. The rhubarb was slightly crunchy and slightly tart, making for a nice counterpoint with the brown sugar streusel on top. The ice creams and sorbets are made in-house, so the strawberry ice cream was terrific, obviously full of fresh strawberries and with a slight graininess to the texture that you don't find in store-bought ice creams.

          My dining companion had two of their artisanal cocktails and pronounced them excellent. One of them was not on the current menu (it had previously been there but was taken off); it was recommended by our server, Marty, who was knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. The prices (which you can see on the menus on their website at ) are amazingly reasonable, with all of these half portions in the $6-9 range except for the duck sausage at $12.

          This was an exceptional dinner, with almost every dish full of amazingly delicious flavor. Even now, two days later, I can still remember the terrific tastes, and I'm already thinking about when I can return. Bravo!!!

          Sable Kitchen & Bar
          505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

          2 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            nsxtasy, I've read your great reviews of Sable...I just booked a reservation there for a week from Saturday. My wife and I are going there to celebrate our wedding anniversary...I'm really looking forward to it.

            1. re: harken banks

              Sounds great! Please report back and let us know how you like everything.