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Anniversary trip to Chicago; Would love a nice dining experience $200 or less for two

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My husband and I are planning a trip to Chicago in early November and are looking for a nice restaurant to celebrate our 5 years of marriage. We love to eat at nice restaurants for the food and the experience. We are looking for a place to have a delicious meal in an atmosphere that gives us privacy to have a conversation with minimal interruptions.

We will most likely be staying in a hotel just north of Michigan avenue, so a place near there would be good but not necessary. We'll either be driving or taking a taxi to the restaurant.

We love seafood, but are not looking for the L20 or Alinea type experience. Judging from the reviews it seems a bit over our budget and a bit overwhelming - the constant rotating of courses doesn't appeal to us. I'm looking for something intimate and laid back yet a place I can wear a nice dress and my husband be comfortable in a suit.

My husband does not drink alcohol and I will have maybe a glass of wine. So impressive wine lists or bars are not of particular importance.

I'm willing to go over the $200 limit a little bit but not by hundreds.

Our preferences range from Italian, French and American. Pretty simple actually - ha!
We both enjoy almost all the creatures from the sea.

I've read just one small informational article on the restaurant, Sixteen. Has anyone been there? Is it a good spot for a 5 year wedding anniversary? The pictures of the dinning room seemed to have a nice view but there were no menu samples.

Any suggestions are welcome!

Thank you for your help

Margaret

PS We're coming from St. Louis and have thoroghly enjoyed dining at Kemoll's, Tony's, Oceana Dierdorf & Hart's, Porter's and Charlie Gitto's. If you're familiar with any of these places maybe something along those lines?

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. Please read this entire post, because I'm going to mention a bunch of places and ideas for you. Briefly, I think Oceanique is exactly what you're looking for, but may be a bit far; otherwise, I think North Pond and Everest are both great choices.

    For French cuisine, we have some casual bistros - La Sardine in the West Loop is one of the best - but they have a bit more of a casual/noisy feel to them, which may not be what you're looking for. Based on what you've mentioned, my top recommendation would be Everest. It's one of our high-end restaurants but you can order a la carte and without much alcohol I bet you could come close to your $200 limit. The food is contemporary French, and they also have a wonderful view looking out over the city from the 40th Floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building.

    We also have some great contemporary American restaurants that are along the lines of the "casual fine dining" you seem to be looking for. Three of the best are in the Lincoln Park neighborhood three miles north of the Mag Mile: Perennial Virant, Boka, and North Pond. North Pond is also noteworthy for its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. When reserving, ask if they can give you a table in the room facing the pond (although the rear dining room with its open kitchen is fun too). Two other good ones walking distance from the "Mag Mile" are Graham Elliot and Naha.

    We also have some terrific Italian restaurants. Two of our newest have a bit of a contemporary/global feel to them. One is Piccolo Sogno, which may be the best mid-priced Italian restaurant in the city right now. It's a mile west of the Mag Mile. Another is Cibo Matto, in the Wit Hotel just south of the river in the Loop. Of these two, Piccolo Sogno is a bit busier, with a more casual/noisy "bistro" feel to it, whereas Cibo Matto has a luxury contemporary decor and a bit more of a sense of privacy which may be a better fit for what you're seeking.

    You've mentioned seafood several times in your post. All of the above restaurants have some seafood items on their menu. I'm going to throw out one more recommendation which is a bit more offbeat from these others because of its location. Oceanique is located in Evanston, the first town north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. It's an elegant restaurant specializing in seafood, yet has a casual and not-too-noisy atmosphere. Mark Grosz has been the chef-owner there for over twenty years, during which I've eaten there maybe a dozen times, and it has always been outstanding. The seafood dishes are great, and they do a wonderful job with soups, sauces, and desserts. You can drive there from the Mag Mile in about 25 minutes.

    >> I've read just one small informational article on the restaurant, Sixteen. Has anyone been there? Is it a good spot for a 5 year wedding anniversary? The pictures of the dinning room seemed to have a nice view but there were no menu samples.

    I've eaten there, before the recent departure of their executive chef, Frank Brunacci. The room is lovely, but I thought the food was merely good, not as impressive as the other places I'm mentioning here. Their menu may be in transition; I'm not sure whether they have named a new chef yet. This is probably why there is no menu on their website. Given the current status there, I'd go elsewhere.

    >> PS We're coming from St. Louis and have thoroghly enjoyed dining at Kemoll's, Tony's, Oceana Dierdorf & Hart's, Porter's and Charlie Gitto's. If you're familiar with any of these places maybe something along those lines?

    I've eaten at Tony's, many years ago, and it was excellent!

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    Boka
    1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

    La Sardine
    111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

    North Pond
    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

    Everest
    440 S La Salle St Ste 4000, Chicago, IL 60605

    Sixteen
    401 N. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60611

    Perennial Virant
    1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

    Oceanique
    505 Main St, Evanston, IL 60202

    Piccolo Sogno
    464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

    Naha
    500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    Cibo Matto
    201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

    Graham Elliot
    217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

    1. Just because you are happy to pay "less than $200 for a nice dining experience for two" doesn't mean you have to spend anywhere NEAR that in Chicago for fine dining. Food snobs on this board seem to think anything less than Aliena, Charlie Trotters, Everest, or North Pond are not worthy of consideration. If you want to spend hundreds to eat and it's important for you to say you've *eaten there* I guess those places are the standard go to places.

      Take some time to dig through Chowhound Chicago earlier posts. Look at what some what Chicago residents say about little known wonderful places to dine where you aren't necessarily part of THE SCENE. It's CHICAGO for Pete's sake. Think ETHNIC.

      Here's a starter: Isla Filipino on Lawrence Avenue. A great Filipino restaurant situated in a strip mall next to a porno shop. I'm sure few people in St. Louis will have heard of places like this, but they will certainly be memorable..

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      Charlie Trotter's
      816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

      North Pond
      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mobiusring

        It's up to each of us to decide what kind of restaurant to eat at. There are excellent restaurants of all types, with many in the downtown areas and others in outlying neighborhoods and the suburbs, with cuisine from fine dining and contemporary American to ethnic cuisines, in all price categories. However, when someone posts that their "preferences range from Italian, French and American", that they "love to eat at nice restaurants for the food and the experience", and that they "will most likely be staying in a hotel just north of Michigan avenue, so a place near there would be good but not necessary", it would seem to make more sense to provide recommendations that are consistent with their desires and preferences, instead of a cheap ethnic place in an outlying, inconvenient neighborhood. I know for a fact that there are inexpensive ethnic restaurants in St. Louis and the OP is undoubtedly familiar with the type. But that's simply not what she and her husband are looking for. Let's try to provide recommendations that help with what they're looking for, not something that has absolutely nothing to do with what the OP is requesting.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thank you both for your responses! I look forward to looking into all of your suggestions before making a decision.

          @ Mobiusring: I enjoy trying new and unique restaurants, especially ethnic ones. But my husband is not as adventurous and when we dine together we choose "safe" places with simple menu choices. I get to try new places with my girlfriends whenever I get the chance!

          @nsxtasy: Thank you so much for your thorough response! You've given me tons of places to look into and truly took into consideration my preferences, I really appreciate that.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            >instead of a cheap ethnic place in an outlying, inconvenient neighborhood<

            *SIGH*

            1. re: Mobiusring

              If that's what they had been looking for, it might have been an appropriate suggestion. But it wasn't - not even close. There are thousands of restaurants in the Chicago area, and many of them are very good, but they don't all fit any particular situation. Again, let's try to provide recommendations that help with what they're looking for, not something that has absolutely nothing to do with what the OP is requesting.