One Dinner In Chicago
Hello. My girlfriend and I will be coming to Chicago the first week in July, and I was looking for some suggestions for one nice dinner we'd like to have. We're planning on attending Taste of Chicago as well, but this would be the one "classy" sit-down dinner we're planning. We'll be staying downtown but willing to travel a bit. The parameters are pretty flexible, entrees in the 20s or below, and all types of cuisines are in play, perhaps particularly American or European and more contemporary than classical technique.. Thanks so much in advance, and I can't wait to come!
Well, there are reasons I didn't mention those other places. The meats and seafood at the Publican are excellent; however, it is very noisy and the desserts are really dreadful. If you go anyway, when making your reservation, make sure to specify whether or not you want the communal tables, and they will try to accommodate your preference. The Purple Pig does not accept reservations and waiting times have been long (45+ minutes on weeknights). Anteprima is in Andersonville, which is quite a distance from downtown (unlike Cafe Spiaggia). MK and Blackbird will both exceed your price target without any countervailing reason to make it worth it (like the beautiful park setting at North Pond does).
As for the other comments, I assume you recommend against Shaw's because it's not "classy" enough, which is true - it's designed to resemble a somewhat noisy old-time New England seafood restaurant - but it's actually very classy in that old-fashioned way, and the seafood is very good and fresh. I'm not sure why not Carnivale, unless you consider the festive atmosphere to be other than "classy" (equally true of Sunda BTW).
You guys are awesome. Thanks for the quick and informative responses. I feel that my use of "classy" may have misled a bit. Basically, we're just looking for good, exciting food prepared in interesting ways. Please don't get caught up with that word; I was just trying to show that this is the dinner we're most looking forward to, but that doesn't mean it must be quote/unquote classy (although that's exactly how I typed it, so whoops). I had checked out Publican and Purple Pig prior to posting, and both looked very intriguing, and both Cafe Des Architectes and Spiaggia look great. Still sorting through the rest. Thanks again.
carnivale makes me feel like i'm at a swap meet. the food is good and the bar can be fun, but the main dining room is more seizure inducing than those nintendo robbie robots.
anteprima is far away, but the patio is one of my favorites in the city. i also feel like andersonville gives out of towners a feel for a real chicago neighborhood rather than all the hullaballoo of downtown, which can be nice if you're burnt out from the taste. plus, if you want to go out after dinner, there's hopleaf right down the street. and if you're making it one of those nights, there's always carol's....kidding!
you're right, mk and blackbird probably aren't worth the extra $$. i would say that if you want to stay downtown i would vote for cafe spiaggia.
My top pick will meet all your parameters except one. North Pond is notable not only for its food, but also for its unique setting in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park itself, not the adjacent neighborhood of the same name) facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. The renovated building formerly served as the warming shelter for skaters on the frozen pond in the winter. The food is contemporary American featuring local and seasonal ingredients from James Beard Award finalist Chef Bruce Sherman. It's about three miles north of downtown. The only downside is that it's a bit more expensive than your target price range, with entrees in the mid thirties. www.northpondrestaurant.com
For more affordable contemporary American cuisine, I love Cafe des Architectes, located in the Sofitel downtown. The decor is contemporary too (it's part of the curved glass facade of the hotel) and the food is delicious. Every night they have a prix fixe menu, 3 courses for $42, and Sundays through Tuesdays they have an even better bargain with a limited selection of 3 courses for $29. www.cafedesarchitectes.com
Here are some other types of food that will fit all of your criteria:
Cafe Spiaggia (Italian, Michigan Avenue) - www.cafespiaggia.com (make sure to click on CAFE rather than DINING ROOM)
La Sardine (French bistro, West Loop) - www.lasardine.com
Sunda (pan-Asian, River North) - www.sundachicago.com
Carnivale (Latin fusion, West Loop) - www.carnivalechicago.com
Mercat a la Planxa (tapas, Loop) - www.mercatchicago.com
Shaw's Crab House (seafood, River North) - www.shawscrabhouse.com