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Dinner for 10 Next week in Chi

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Need to have a great dinner for 10 people from NYC and LA in on biz and I will be judged on my selection...
I want a great meal, but in casual culinary environ.
I like the looks of Avec and Longwood & Eagle, but they don't take reservations and that won't work for my party. Thinking about Blackbird or Nightwood but am open to a great old school Chicago steakhouse or any great place you local hounders suggest.

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Avec Restaurant
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

Nightwood
2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

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  1. While Nightwood is a pretty good choice, it's off the beaten path and you'll be cabbing it a bit from the downtown area. Not a deal-breaker but if everyone is staying in the Gold Coast area it's a schlep. If, on the other hand, you're staying in the Loop area, it's not bad but then I'd probably recommend Mercat a la Planxa. Just went there recently with a large group (from both coasts) and everyone enjoyed it.

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    Nightwood
    2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

    1. Where is everybody staying and/or coming from? With that size group, it will make a lot more sense to have it nearby (within walking distance), rather than requiring everyone to pile into a bunch of cabs.

      Also, what do you mean by "casual"? Do you mean a place where blue jeans or shorts are acceptable? For example, Blackbird is not really casual; it's an elegant restaurant where attire, for example, is predominantly business casual.

      And what about noise level? Are you conducting business so everyone will need to hear each other? Or is it okay if you're in a rather noisy bistro type environment?

      Would you want a private dining room if one is available for your size group? Or would you prefer to be out in the main dining room with the public?

      Here are two suggestions, and I'll be happy to make more depending on additional feedback.

      Sable is a restaurant in the Hotel Palomar, which is in River North right near the "Mag Mile" hotel district. The food is delicious, creative contemporary American fare from Chef Heather Terhune. They also have amazing artisanal cocktails. It's moderately noisy, not unbearably so. I believe I noticed a private dining room there of suitable size for your group. www.sablechicago.com

      Piccolo Sogno is in River West, north of Greek Town and west of the Merchandise Mart. They serve wonderful contemporary Italian cuisine. The atmosphere is lively bistro, and the noise level is festive but not overwhelming. www.piccolosognochicago.com

      As for the places you mentioned, Blackbird's food is excellent but the room is VERY noisy and the seating is cramped. I'm not sure where they would put a group of ten, possibly in the banquette seating. They have a private room but it is probably too large for your needs. Nightwood is delightful, with a lively bistro atmosphere and great food. However, its location in Pilsen is not close to the hotels and is sort of in the middle of nowhere and getting a bunch of cabs to go back might not be so easy.

      Truly casual attire is fine at Sable and Piccolo Sogno and Nightwood, but not appropriate at Blackbird.

      Again, with more information we can probably provide additional recommendations.

      HTH

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      Piccolo Sogno
      464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

      Nightwood
      2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

      2 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thanks. So much for your quick reply.
        Attire-no one will be in shorts or flip flops but a place that frowns on t-shirts and jeans won't be good for us. We are creatives, so we are used to being under-dressed.
        Location- we are staying on State St near Chicago Ave, close to that would be great, but we will have transportation available to us, so we could get somewhere worth getting to.
        Loud is ok, private dinning room is not.
        Looking for places that are not to be missed.
        Thx again

        1. re: Billy77

          Sable would be my top pick. See above. The food and the cocktails both make it "not to be missed". I love their sweet corn creme brulee, a savory riff on the classic dessert.

          I'd also recommend Quartino. They specialize in Italian small plates. Very lively. And casual is fine. www.quartinochicago.com

          Both of these are on State just a few blocks south of where you're staying, an easy five-minute walk.

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          Quartino
          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

      2. I would suggest GT Fish and Oyster, if your group likes seafood. It's relatively new, but has great seafood small plates. They also have a couple large tables which could accomodate that many people. Another spot would be Sunda- sushi and asian small plates and a fun atmosphere. Definitely need reservations at either one.
        Quartinos is fine and is a good place for a large group, but not sure their food will impress anyone.

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        Quartino
        626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

        7 Replies
        1. re: ms. mika

          Love, love, love Quartino's, but GT Fish is a much better suggestion given the poster's parameters. However, table for 10 will be tough. You can call and plead but it's a hot spot and a week's notice is pushing it.

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          Quartino
          626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

          1. re: ms. mika

            BTW, GT Fish and Sunda are both walking distance for you as well.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              great guys! thx!
              Last time i was in Chi there a great Sushi spot called Kaze. Seems not to be open anymore. I think the chef has a new spot called Macku, is it good?

              1. re: Billy77

                I haven't been there. However, if I were planning a dinner for ten people, unless you are familiar with the preferences of all ten people, I would make sure that any restaurant I chose offers more than just sushi, which many people do not care for. This is true of certain types of food, such as an all-vegetarian restaurant. As long as you KNOW that everyone would enjoy it, it's fine, but otherwise you could have some very displeased members of your group. (By contrast, Sunda has quite a bit of variety beyond their sushi offerings, thereby making it more acceptable to a varied group of people.) Hope that makes sense.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  i was thinking of visiting Macku with a smaller party. thx again for all the info. you have been a great help

                  1. re: Billy77

                    I'm happy to help!

                    Hopefully others can help you with thoughts about Macku and additional sushi recommendations, since it's not my thing. There have been a few recent topics here with sushi recommendations, including:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760877
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794050

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Monday night I took a group to Longman and Eagle and it was brilliant. We waited for approx 30mins for a 4 top, but didn't mind a bit because the drinks at the bar were amazing. I think we ate most of the menu and there wasn't a dish we didn't like. We ended up @ Blackbird for our large party and all were thoroughly impressed. Taking a small group to GT Fish tonight. Thanks again for all the help.

          2. What about Publican? Very casual, communal dining setup should make accommodating 10 fairly easy, and no need to dress up...

            2 Replies
            1. re: DoctaThunda

              I think Publican is a HORRIBLE place to go with ten people. You'll be stuck at those godawful looooooong communal tables, and those at one end of your group won't be able to hear those at the other end, or even in the middle. If I had to rank places to go with a group of ten, Publican would rank at the very bottom (assuming Avec wouldn't even be considered, since you couldn't sit together there).

              1. re: DoctaThunda

                Allowing for the fact that DoctaThunda did make a decent suggestion /and/ for the fact that the timeframe for which Billy77's request here has come and gone, but the Publican, in this instance, is a good suggestion. Should Billy77 come back, I hope he would give it a shot. I'm glad DoctaThunda felt comfortable contributing to this forum and providing another valuable opinion.

                We're not sure if the OP needs a table for 10 or for 4 (or less... or more!). If the OP loved L&E and Blackbird, the menu at the Publican would not disappoint. If the OP enjoyed L&E, then the noise-level at the Publican really shouldn't be a problem (and the level of ambient light should be even better!). For a party of 10, I can't think of a single table in the city that would allow easy conversation for such a large party without a private room and that would serve food along the lines of what he enjoyed at L&E or Blackbird. It was established that "loud is okay". The Publican is not a bad suggestion, given what the OP has said already.

                If there should be a next time, Billy77, take another look at Nightwood - it's a little less busy and fussy (food-wise) than, for example, L&E and yet still delicious. Pilsen is a great neighborhood, though it is a cab ride/CTA bus ride from downtown. Skylark, next door, is a complete dive (complete with photo booth!), but drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is friendly. Simone's, a few blocks West on 18th St., is a great, lively bar, as well. Also, as far as next time, look up Lula Cafe in Long Square - same owners as Nightwood, they're currently undergoing an expansion and should be taking reservations once it's done. They're one of the earliest restaurants in the city to pioneer farm-to-table cooking and I've always found the atmosphere to warm, friendly and progressive.

                The Girl and the Goat is another suggestion, though reservations would be tough (unless you make plans sufficiently far in advance). I doubt they could accommodate a walk-in party of 10. Perennial Virant would be yet one more suggestion - Paul Virant achieved great acclaim in his suburban restaurant for farm-to-table/nose-to-tail cooking and he's finally brought his vision to the city. Operated by the same group that runs Girl and the Goat, you'll find another diverse of menu of small/large plates that can satisfy a variety of tastes and demands.

                And in case you didn't know after dining at GT Fish & Oyster, GT is in the same restaurant group, as well (and, speaking of, Boka would be worth checking out, as well, for something a little more formal.The Bristol, swinging back to the more casual side of things, might be nice, though they do not accept reservations.

                Then there's the Purple Pig, off the Magnificent Mile. I think it's pretty great, Billy77, but probably not for a large group. I believe they have only the one large table that could accommodate a group of 10, but it's going to be another long table and the seating is only stools. They also do no take reservations.

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                Boka
                1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

                Perennial Virant
                1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

                Girl and the Goat
                809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

                Purple Pig
                500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                Nightwood
                2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608