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Chicago rehearsal dinner with a bar and Brooklyn-style charm?

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We're non-residents looking for a Chicago restaurant to have our wedding rehearsal dinner. It needs to be big enough for 30-person dinner and either have a great bar attached, or be very close to one (drinks afterward for the rest of the out-of-towners--up to 50 more people).

Looking for a leafier location to give out-of-towners a neighborhood experience, but not too far from downtown and easy access. Wicker Park/Bucktown, Old Town, Lincoln Park. Logan Square ok if that's our best bet for what we want.

Ideally the place has some rustic charm, a bit hip in the farm-to-table sense without trying too hard, and isn't a hangout for guys in suits or the post-frat scene. In other words, Brooklynish. Other musts: Top-notch food, yet hospitable for vegetarians and non-chowhound cousins. Not Italian (that's the wedding menu). Nor a 'cheap eats'-type place, much as we personally love those.

Suggestions appreciated!

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  1. One place that comes to mind is North Pond. Beautiful location right inside Lincoln Park offering views of the pond and Chicago skyline. Critically acclaimed chef with top notch food that appeals to foodies as well as those with a more meat and potato palate. Nice bar with great cocktails. Sophisticated and charming ambiance, yet definitely qualifies as rustic (it was build in what used to be an ice skating warming house). Here is a link to their website: http://www.northpondrestaurant.com/ They have a link for information on private parties.

    1. In Chicago you could find a place that has Wicker Park-style charm, Old Town-style charm, Lincoln Park-style charm, etc. If you want a place that's Brooklynish, maybe you should be looking for a place in Brooklyn. :)

      6 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        OP: I'm not trying to diss my hometown, I just don't know it that well! I didn't want to use the terms foodie or hipster. "Brooklynish" to me means a certain rustic-stylish-locavore vibe that seems like the safest bet for this particular event. (Don't live there.). I thought some Chowhounds would pick up on the reference. "Portlandish," maybe? (Never been there.) Gastropub that has great wine and no flat-screen TVs?

        1. re: bzette

          The Bristol (farm-to-table; great food; interesting cocktails; good wine; may be perfect - Bucktown)
          Longman & Eagle (great food, great beer - less sure about wine - no reservations - Logan Square)
          The Publican (love this place. check out the menu
          The Purple Pig (another great option)
          The Gage (a little more upscale feeling)

          -----
          The Publican
          837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

          Purple Pig
          500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          Longman & Eagle
          2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

          1. re: chicgail

            thank you everyone!

            1. re: bzette

              I would suggest making sure the place you choose has a private room big enough for your group. That way, you can feel that you have your own space without having to worry about mixing with others not in your group.

              To find out which places have private rooms of the appropriate size, you can check on the individual restaurant websites (you usually click on "private parties"). For restaurants which accept reservations on Opentable.com (which includes many of our better places), Opentable has a listing of the sizes of private rooms, and you can filter the listing by event size, location, etc: www.opentable.com/info/banquets.aspx?m=3

              You'll find lots more tips regarding planning for a group dinner in this discussion:

              Dinner and Drinks for 40? - www.chow.com/topics/799823

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Brilliant, thank you!

              2. re: bzette

                this bristol may, in fact, be perfect. they have a second floor that can be reserved for private parties... it looks like up to 65 heads.

                http://thebristolchicago.com/privatee...

        2. Maybe The Bristol? I have no idea what the pricing would be but it seems to meet a lot of the requested criteria.
          http://thebristolchicago.com/privatee...

          1. Anyone been to the Bluebird (Wicker Park) or D.O.C. (Lincoln Park)?

            2 Replies
            1. re: bzette

              Bluebird is a poor-man's imitation of a good gastropub. A wannabe. I wouldn't bother. Never been to DOC.

              1. re: chicgail

                just to provide another vote... bluebird is a fine option. i certainly prefer other gastropubs (e.g. the bristol) myself, but the feel of buebird may actually be a decent fit for the OP. at the very least, i wouldn't dismiss it entirely.

                my initial reaction was: "whoa. chicgail is way out of line with this comment." chicgail, i would actually be interested in reading what drove your opinion of bluebird to the status of "wannabe."

            2. How about the Pump Room & adjoining bar areas? It's not in one of your listed neighborhood locations, but may be worth considering. Not sure about their availability for a group that large, but a recent Chicago Mag write-up compared the bar areas favorably to similar New York operations. Would be a very impressive space, and fun vibe for a large group. They appear to have a private dining area that can hold 22 (seated) or 40 (reception style):

              http://pumproom.com/private-dining/

              I imagine they also accept large groups in the main dining area, but not sure.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Possumlad

                The Pump Room is about as far from what the OP wants as one could get.

                1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                  Yes this is probably true now that I re-read the original post. I had my mind too oriented around simply "great space for large group with bar" and not enough around the OP's actual preferences. I would disregard my Pump Room suggestion.

                  Might be worth checking in to Longman & Eagle. That's a better fit, and I believe they may have a large back area that could host the group? Not 100% on this though.

              2. What about Old Town Social? We like the idea of being in that area and there's a private room. Is it charming, or fratty?

                1 Reply
                1. re: bzette

                  I live in Old Town and always recommend it but note that Old Town Social sits on a rather busy, non-picture sue street. A better Old Town choice would be Perennial Virant or maybe Gemini Bistrot.

                2. Guilt Bar fits within a few of your parameters...I think it's perfect!!!

                  Also, there's a large private, yet intimate downstairs lounge. The atmosphere is quite cool too.

                  http://www.giltbarchicago.com/

                  I like the suggestion for The Gage as well.