Sunday Night Dinner
The Backstory: Almost three years ago we met a couple at Trotters's NYE bash. They are from Austin, Tx. Yes, they made the trip just to go to Charlie's party. Anyway, the next night we went to NOMI. Last year they came to Chicago for a conference and we renewed our foodie friendship at Alinea. They are coming back again in Late Nov./early Dec. We can meet them only on Sunday. Alinea is booked, Avenues is closed. They have plans for Everest later in the week. Forget Spiaggia, Trotter's or L2O. Maybe Tru? What has it been like recently? Any other suggestions? Perhaps stepping down a tier for the likes of MK, Blackbird, N. Pond and others. Would like a place more quiet than noisy.
Nsxtasy, your up to bat...
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
6100 S Blackstone Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
First of all, I'm surprised Alinea is booked. I didn't think they accepted reservations for late Nov/early Dec yet. You're sure they said they're full, and not that they don't accept reservations for your date yet, right? If you're not absolutely certain, it might be worth calling to clarify.
Among our high-end restaurants, other places open on Sundays include Bonsoiree, L2O, Sixteen, Spiaggia, Seasons, and NoMI. (TRU is not open on Sundays.) So those are your choices if you want to stick to high-end places. And they're all pretty good. Granted, I've been disappointed in two of them and haven't been to one, but if you're getting together with foodies, they're at least in the ballpark and I doubt anyone will HATE any of them (I didn't). Anyway, those are all decent options.
It's up to you whether to go down a tier to our "casual fine dining" restaurants like the ones you mentioned. Some of my very best dinners have been at such places... but I can love a dinner just as much with 3-4 courses chosen a la carte, when the food is wonderfully delicious, as I can with a 10-20+ course tasting menu. Anyway, if you want to go to such a place, Blackbird is out because, aside from the fact that it's VERY NOISY, it's closed on Sundays, so it's not even an option. I think North Pond is great and would be my number one recommendation in this category, for its cuisine as well as its setting in the park. It's not overly noisy, and Chef Sherman being a James Beard finalist gives the place cred among foodies. I like MK but it can be rather noisy. I also like Cafe des Architectes a lot, and it's not very noisy at all. And Spring, the seafood-focused restaurant in Bucktown, is another place you could consider.
While those contemporary American restaurants are usually the first to come to mind in that tier, there are other kinds of restaurants where you can have a great dinner appropriate to foodies. For example, Mercat a la Planxa, the tapas restaurant from Jose Garces, is worth considering. So is David Burke's Primehouse, which is much more than just a steakhouse, although obviously steaks are their specialty. We have many more upscale ethnic restaurants, but these are the ones that I would recommend to a truly discerning group interested in fine food, and all are open on Sundays. (I was going to also mention Shanghai Terrace, the upscale Chinese restaurant in the Peninsula, but it's closed Sundays.)
That ought to give you some ideas...