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Party of 9 celebration dinner - Quartino, Landmark, Drawing Room or ???

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Group of 9 -- all adults 30+ -- looking for a nice but not too expensive dinner party location celebration.

So far, given the poor planning on my part -- our finalists (given reputation & availability) are Quartino, Landmark, & Drawing Room (or where ever else you may recommend)

GatG, Publican, Blackbird and similar usual suspects are all booked...

Anyone care to vote among those three -- or submit a write-in candidate?

Thanks Hounds for the help!

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The Drawing Room
937 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

Quartino
626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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  1. >> GatG, Publican, Blackbird and similar usual suspects are all booked...

    None of those would have been particularly good for a group of 9 anyway. At least, not if you want anyone at one end of the table to be able to hear those at the other end without shouting.

    Are you trying to keep it close to the hotels along the Mag Mile? In that area, I'd consider Cafe Spiaggia or Coco Pazzo Cafe for Italian, and Bistro 110 or Kiki's for French bistro fare. In the West Loop, I'd consider La Sardine, another French bistro.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      NSXTASY: thank you so much for your reply, great ideas.

      Question: did none of the original 3 I named inspire much excitement from you? I'd like a real fun place with good food and quality atmosphere that isn't too "scene-y" .... any other suggestions (some of the places you suggested were full)...

      Looking forward to more suggestions,

      Dyn-O-Mite.

      1. re: Dyn_O_Mite

        Well, I haven't been to two of the three places (Landmark and Drawing Room) so I can't say anything about them. Quartino is very good, although it really depends on what you're looking for. I'll try to describe what I mean, how the atmosphere of these places differs - and I think you'll see that it ties in directly with what chicgail says below.

        The question in my mind is how you define "fun" and how you define "not scene-y" (I'm not even sure what you mean by "scene-y"). And keep in mind that you have a group of 9 people, which means some places may be more suitable than others.

        Let's use a few of the places you and I have already mentioned as examples. I realize that some of them are booked, but I think they will show you what I'm trying to point out.

        The Publican is laid out as one large room. About half the seating in the room consists of two looooong communal tables; the rest is private tables seating 2-6, and there are also high-tops in the middle without any seating, so people stand around them to eat and drink. The Publican's crowd is a mix; some folks come primarily to eat dinner, others just for drinks and light snacks. (They have a huge beer list.) Because of the layout and the hard surfaces, the room is exceedingly noisy, one of the loudest in the city. I went there as a group of six at our own table, with three on each side, and it was so loud that those at one end had trouble hearing those at the other end, only two seats away. A group of nine would be seated at one of those long communal tables, and there's no way people at one end would be able to hear those at the other end. Maybe that's fine, maybe you consider that part of the fun... but maybe not. Either way, that's what the experience would be like.

        Blackbird is different in some ways. Blackbird is more of a foodie destination, and most folks go there for dinner, rather than just for drinks. It doesn't have communal tables, and it doesn't have a lot of people standing around drinking like the Publican does. However, it too is extremely loud, due to the room decor as well as the closeness of the tables. (There is a row of banquette tables along one side of the dining room and the tables are thisclose to each other.) It will make it difficult for your group to all be able to hear each other. Again, some people think that a room that is extremely loud is fun, while others don't.

        La Sardine, Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo Cafe, and Kiki's Bistro are all similar in style - I consider them bistros (two French, two Italian). They are lively places where people go for a nice meal. They are not quiet - not at all - but they are also not so loud that you can't hear each other. At any of them, all nine of you can have a conversation and hear each other clearly without shouting and without having to constantly ask each other to repeat what you said. The atmosphere consists of being surrounded by people having a good time enjoying each other's company - what chicgail refers to as a "refined atmosphere", which is a good description. For some people and some occasions, that might be fun; for others, it might not. Either way, though, that's what they're like. Assuming Perennial's atmosphere under Chef Virant is similar to what it was under Chef Poli, it's very much like the others in this bistro group, where people go for dinner, and it's not exceedingly noisy, just people enjoying their dinner. Again, I think all of these places are fun and enjoyable (just as are the louder, drinking-oriented places), but different people look for different things and define fun differently.

        Bistro 110, which I also mentioned, is a little different from the previous group because it's laid out as a series of smaller rooms, rather than one large room, so you have more of a sense of privacy for your group. That, too, can be fun, depending on whether that sense of privacy is what you're looking for.

        Quartino can be rather noisy - not quite at the ear-splitting level of say the Publican, but louder than the bistro group above. The food is good, and like the Publican, it's the kind of place that many people go for dinner, and many others go for drinks and light snacks.

        So what I'm saying is, it all depends on what you're looking for. Maybe you're looking for a place where you feel surrounded by many people who are drinking and celebrating loudly and you don't mind a higher noise level - in which case you may prefer a place like Quartino. Or maybe you're looking for a place with a "refined atmosphere", where you're surrounded by people eating and conversing and you can hear each other without a high noise level - in which case Cafe Spiaggia, La Sardine, Kiki's, Perennial, etc would be better choices. It's all up to you to figure out just what you're looking for.

        HTH

        1. re: nsxtasy

          << The atmosphere consists of being surrounded by people having a good time enjoying each other's company - what chicgail refers to as a "refined atmosphere", which is a good description. For many people (including me), that's fun; for others (including chicgail), that wouldn't be considered fun. >>

          Sheesh. We all know what assuming makes out of u and me.

          I happen think a "refined atmosphere" is fun. It's what I usually seek out for myself, but it's not the only thing that is fun - for me or for others. I just don't have the same aversion to noisy places that you do..

          Accurately or not, I was trying to get into the OP's world. Sometimes people seek out quiet, white tablecloth establishments. Other times they're looking for something a little ... for a lack of a better word ... rowdier. Noisier. Less hushed or "refined."

          1. re: chicgail

            >> I happen think a "refined atmosphere" is fun.

            Sorry if I misinterpreted your previous post, but it sounded like you were saying the opposite of this, where you said:

            >> I wouldn't describe either one as fun. They both have "refined atmospheres"

            I'll go back and edit that part of my post, as it wasn't intended to be a personal jab towards you (and I apologize now that I see that it sounded that way).

            >> Accurately or not, I was trying to get into the OP's world. Sometimes people seek out quiet, white tablecloth establishments. Other times they're looking for something a little ... for a lack of a better word ... rowdier. Noisier. Less hushed or "refined."

            Yes, I was trying to convey the same thing in my post. Either type of place could be good for the OP's celebration dinner for nine, depending on what he or she is looking for (which isn't exactly clear).

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks, nsxtasy. Post and emails do tend to be subject to some weird demons that alter the nuance after we have written them, intending something very different.

              Restaurants provide food and beverage. Things like "fun" and "romance" are we bring to the table. Or not. (And haven't we all had dinners like that?)

              I was trying to distinguish between a restaurant that is quiet and refined vs. one that is a little raucous and lively. Kind of like the difference between Charlie Trotter and Carnivale. One is not better than the other, but there are times when you would prefer one over the other.

    2. I get the feeling from your post that great food may not be the top of the list. It wounds like you're interested in a fun place that's not a "place to be seen" If that's accurate I think the three places you mentioned would be perfect for what you describe: nice, not too expensive, fun and not scene-y. If I'm reading this right, atmosphere is more important than memorable food.

      Cafe Spiaggia and Le Sardine both have wonderful food but I wouldn't describe either one as fun. They both have "refined atmospheres" - not a bad thing if that is what you want. I do like the idea of Coco Pazzo Cafe and Kiki's more.

      I haven't been to the Drawing Room, so I can't speak to that, but Quartino's or Landmark would be perfect.

      I'm going to go out on a limb here. Perennial, which was one of my favorites just reopened with a new chef. It is now called Perennial Virant for Chef Paul Virant. While I haven't been there with the new chef, I would put my money on it being a good spot that you and your friends might enjoy.