Group dinner for Saturday, $$ ?
I'm looking for a great restaurant for 10 people for a special dinner on a Saturday in May -- about $20-30 for an entree, must take reservations. Some of the diners are less adventurous than others (we thought about Publican, but were worried some people might not find anything to eat). I thought Frontera Grill would be perfect, but of course they're already booked. Any other recommendations?
This is a tough set of criteria. If keeping entrees below $30 is a concern, then I imagine paying big bucks for parking in the Loop area is not appealing.
Most of the restaurants I think of as "great" have tasting menus that would not appeal to the nonadventurous, or their a la carte is north of $30 an entree.
If it were me, I would stretch the budget a bit and go for North Pond.
If not, I would settle for good rather than great and go for crowd-pleasing Italian like Mia Francesca.
Others will probably have better ideas.
MK takes reservations, has choices for both the picky as well as the adventurous and has excellent food. It is just a tad over your price point, but not by much (most entrees run $30 to $38; a couple are in the $20's and a couple in the $40's). MK also has a nice ambiance for a special occasion.
I'm not a big sweets-eater so I had to look it up.
The dessert menu is listed separately on-line.
Here's what I saw:
madagascar chocolate cake with toasted grains-of-paradise gelato, milk chocolate sauce, coca nib nougatina
chocolate almond sacher cake with praline almonds and green apple sorbet
coconut-almond tarte with salted vanilla cararmel, pineapple cilantro compote and pineapple gelato
white chocolate lemon semifreddo with a pistachio basil salad and black pepper syrup
tahitian vanilla creme brulee
roasted pear cardamom bread pudding with brandied cherry compote and white chocolate pistachio bark
sorbets and gelatos
Sounds good to me.
I recently had a birthday celebration with a group of 16 @ Club Lucky in Bucktown. It's old-school American Italian food (think Chicken parm, big salads, huge meatballs, etc). It's a very lively atmosphere on Fridays and Saturdays, and won't be much more than $15-$25 per person. Portions are large and you'll do lots of sharing. It's not a classy, higher-end restaurant, but was perfect for a mixed-age group for a birthday.
They also don't book up to far in advance; as of now, they show plenty of reservations available for 10-tops on Saturdays in May.
Three other great spots you may consider that currently have 5:30PM or 6PM reservations available for Saturday groups of 10 in May: Lula Cafe in Logan Square; Quartino in River North; and Balena in Lincoln Park
As a general tip, I recommend going on Opentable.com, plugging in 10 people--and the date and time you need--and seeing what comes up. From there you can sort by rating (or map) and start to narrow down your list. Some restaurants don't accept Opentable reservations, but this is a pretty good place to start.