seafood dinner at 6 pm to entertain tired client staying in Loop
I am taking a client to dinner next Monday night who will have flown in from England and is staying at the Hilton on Michigan. He says that after a long flight something light such as seafood might be best, but likes a variety of cuisine (although he didn't pick up on my suggestion of sushi as an option). We will be dining around 6:00 after taking a cab from his hotel. I need to impress him without wearing him out and it would be best to eat somewhere we can talk without needing to yell. I've thought of Shaw's, Hugo's, Catch 35, and McCormick & Schmidt's, akthough the first two can be kind of noisy. Any ideas or recommendations? Thanks!
I'd go with Shaw's. I've never been disappointed in the food there (I had a bad dinner recently at Catch 35). It's not quiet, but it's not horribly noisy either, and it might be somewhat quieter on a Monday.
Another option, if you don't want to bother with a cab, would be Custom House Tavern, which is a couple blocks walk. They aren't specifically a seafood place but they have some seafood dishes. Another close by option is Mercat a la Planxa but it's pretty noisy, probably not the best choice.
While it doesn't get quite as much attention as their meat offerings, the Publican has some of the best seafood I've had in this city. I expect nsxtasy to point out that the Publican can get loud and that its communal tables are not necessarily conducive to a business dinner. If you were eating much later than 6pm on a Monday, I would agree -- that early, however, the restaurant will not be crowded and it should be easy enough to get one of the stand-alone tables at the front of the restaurant (if not even an outside table, weather/preferences permitting).
The Publican can indeed be horrendously noisy, one of the loudest rooms in the city. I was there with a 5:30 weekday reservation at a six-top (three on each side) and we could not hear each other without yelling, just two seats away. What's worse is that even if you express a preference, you risk being seated at those awful looooong communal tables. The seafood is indeed good, but other items on the menu range from overhyped (pork rinds) to just plain dreadful (desserts).
If you had instead asked for a noisy beer hall type place with a big beer selection to go with decent seafood, the Publican fits the bill. But since you're looking for a quieter place where you can hear each other easily without yelling, I can't think of a WORSE place to go than the Publican.
I think Avec would be worse.
I was there with two people on a weeknight at 6pm and we could talk to one another without yelling. And we were at one the looooong communal tables. We didn't have any pork rinds and stuck to cheese for dessert. It's a gorgeous room, much nicer than places in River North that scream corporate decor, too.
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661
I found it horrendously, excrutiatingly loud - as does everyone I've spoken about it with - and the exact opposite of what the OP is looking for.
As for "gorgeous", that's a matter of opinion. I think the big pictures of pigs are clever and humorous, as are the booths and their doors mimicking livestock stockades, but I would not use words like "gorgeous" or "nicer" to describe the decor. It looks like what it is - a casual restaurant which emphasizes beer and pork. At least it doesn't betray its origins as part of the Kahan corporate chain.
Whereas the decor at Shaw's remains a timeless masterstroke as the perfect evocation of a New England shoreline seafood restaurant - a perfect demonstration of a regional American icon for a visitor from overseas.