In search of Michelin star(s) calibre restaurants that can cater for a group of 20+ foodies in a private dining room
Dear Chicago Hounds!
I am planning to lead a group of 20+ Toronto foodies to your great city for sight seeing and 'chowing'!!. We are looking for a couple Michelin star (s) restaurants ( one lunch and one dinner ) that have food that 'wows' and also have a private dining room that can accommodate our relatively large group.
Of course, in a perfect world a 'multi-course tasting menu' meal at Alinea would be most ideal! However, I would think, to Alinea's kitchen, our large number influx might not be practical for a lot of their delicate and fine dishes. As such, establishments that offer a smaller number of courses - 'Prix fixe' menu might be our only choice. Once we settle on the restaurants, may be there is a need for me to call ahead and 'pre-arrange' the menu for our group?!
However, before all that - WHAT ARE MY CHOICES??!! Bear in mind, great food that wows ( taste and plate presentation ) is our first and only criteria!!
Thanking you all in advance!
We might have a ' motor coach', so distances might not be a problem.
@ kathryn. Wow! Didn't realize you are both a NYC and Chicago expert!!
Since there are no Michelin restaurants here in Toronto, selling point of the trip is to introduce ' uninitiated new-comers' to the world of Michelin star restaurants. So restaurants with star (s ) is a MUST!! After reading the threads, may be Blackbird for lunch and ???? for dinner?
re: Charles Yu
With a group that size, you could consider Blackbird for lunch OR dinner. They have a private room upstairs that seats up to 48 people. Everest has private rooms of various sizes too, but I've never seen them so I don't know how big they are. TRU has a private dining room that seats up to 44, according to Opentable. So does Naha and some of the other Michelin-starred restaurants. Check out the list of private dining rooms on Opentable at www.opentable.com/info/banquets.aspx?m=3 and then get on the phone to discuss your needs with the individual restaurants. Be prepared to answer the first three questions that any restaurant will ask about private dining: What size is your group? What date(s) are you interested in? Do you have a specific budget in mind?
To answer your question - yes, with a group that size you will probably need to have a fixed menu for everyone in your group, rather than each person selecting from an a la carte menu, but they can usually accommodate a handful of exceptions for individuals with special dietary needs. I've done a lot of booking of private party meals for groups your size as well as larger ones. The good news is, you don't need to think everything up. Any restaurant that serves private parties typically has an individual who knows all the questions to ask you, and can walk you through all the considerations and can fill you in on how they can handle your group. Of course, some do it better than others, as you will find out if you call several places to ask what they can do. The better they are at helping you make all the arrangements, chances are the better they will be at executing those arrangements too.
While you can arrange for a motor coach, it's an added expense (possibly around $1000 for an evening, give or take). And depending on where everyone is staying, it might not be necessary. For example, many of the top restaurants, including TRU and Naha and Spiaggia, are in the middle of the hotel district in River North and the Mag Mile and would only require a short walk. Also, if your group has a block at one of those luxury hotels, you might want to discuss your needs with their concierge service, who can help you identify appropriate places to dine and help with the arrangements.
One other thought - don't rule out any restaurant for lunch on the basis of their being closed for lunch, at least not without asking. Even though they're normally not open for lunch, they may make the restaurant available for lunch for a private party your size.
Alinea has moved to a pre-paid ticketing system and can't accomodate parties larger than 6, unless you do a FULL restaurant buyout on a Monday or Tuesday, when they are normally closed.
What days are you in Chicago?
Unfortunately most of the top fine dining destinations in Chicago are NOT open for lunch.
One exception is Topolobampo, which looks like it would do nicely assuming you are not trying to do this on a Sunday or Monday:
I suggest that you not necessarily be bound by Michelin stars for this search, especially for a lunch venue.