Business dinner in Chicago for 14 out-of-towners
Hello Chicago 'hounds,
I'm researching dinner locations for a group of 14 on a Wednesday night, budget around $60pp not including drinks, tax or tip. We'd like it to be downtown, and a place that really embodies a full sense of Chicago. Only a couple of us have been to Chicago before.
If it helps, it is a dinner for a group of sales reps based in different parts of the country, so we will be coming from all over. A couple of people in the group are picky meat and potatoes types, a couple are vegetarian and the rest of us are adventurous eaters. For the sake of the less adventurous, I'm thinking American or Italian would be safest.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions and advice!
Here are a few thoughts, you can check locations and reviews on Yelp:
Nacional 27. River north, so .... north of the river. Fun place, cool drinks, solid food. Latin, but you can describe it accurately as a steakhouse. More affordable than some of the classic Chicago steak places. Part of Lettuce group.
Italian Village. In the loop. You cannot get much more Chicago than this place which has been here forever and a day. Solid, basic food, with three floors ranging from fancy to casual.
Trattoria No. 10. In the loop, not as classic but better food than Italian Village.
325 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610
>> Trattoria No. 10. In the loop, not as classic but better food than Italian Village.
IMHO, the food at Vivere, the first-floor restaurant in Italian Village and the most upscale of the three restaurants there, is better than at Trattoria No. 10 (although the latter is still pretty good). However, I don't know whether either one has private dining rooms suitable for a group that small, which is the more important question.
I'd call the private parties group at Lettuce Entertain You. They have several dozen restaurants in Chicago, at all price ranges, and many of them have private rooms. They can advise you on which might bet fit your needs, and make all the arrangements. Their private party website is at www.lettuceparties.com
The issue with a group of 14 is that you'll want a private room and you'll need the ability for any venue to make arrangements for and serve a group that size, which is called a "private party" even when it's for a business dinner. The LEY restaurants do an exceptional job with that. And they're not "a private party firm"; Lettuce Entertain You is a group of popular local restaurants. Many are among the very best of their kind in the city and are well-known here: Shaw's for seafood, Nacional 27 for Latin fusion, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba for tapas, Everest and TRU for fine dining, etc. They simply have one point of contact for private parties at any of their properties, many of which have private rooms. So you have one person who can tell you how they can accommodate your group based on its size and budget and date, at whichever of their restaurants are most appropriate based upon your needs, all in one phone call.
A personal recommendation of a restaurant that's good for a party of two or four doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be able to do well with a large group. (As I've found out, unfortunately.)
I recommend contacting LEY, along with any other places you might be considering. An initial discussion about your needs and their ability to handle them takes only a phone call and will give you a good feel for what you'll get for your money as well as how much experience they have with serving groups.