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3 nights of dining help requested

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I have been charged with finding 3 great restaurants for dinner (Fri/Sat/Sun in May) for a group of my co-workers and their customers. I would estimate reservations would need to be for 8 or 2 groups of 4. We went to MK last year and loved it and will likely put that on the list. We're a foodie group but also need to have plenty of time for business conversation. There are some in the group who are partial to steak places, some to great Italian food and some that just want a really fun/casual place with great food. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

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  1. I would suggest David Burke's Primehouse for steaks and Volare or Vivere for Italian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: camusman

      I'll second David Burke's for steaks, for its atmosphere as well as its food. It's not as loud and boisterous as some steakhouses, so it's better for a business meal.

      For Italian, I'd have to give the nod to tesori over Vivere, although both are good choices. Both have excellent food, and neither is so loud as to prevent conversation. But the atmosphere at tesori seems more conducive to doing business, more spacious and relaxed and less gawdy. tesori is relatively new; you can read the detailed report I posted of my dinner there last week at www.chow.com/topics/873519#7836347

    2. I would consider Carnivale that will appeal to all but the straigh-up red sauce American Italian folks. Fun, plenty of big tables, a walk around Latin America (a nice hanger steak with chimchurri as well as lots of yummy pork dishes and nice guac to start). While its big and boistrous the room is large so you can have a nice business discusion but it's not buttoned up.

      Another great choice is Quartino where I have lots of casual business dinners. Menu is large and mostly mid-size sharable. And a great price point, all will be full and drunk (if you want) without buting out the Amex.

      6 Replies
      1. re: jbontario

        I don't know... both Carnivale and Quartino are, as you say, rather boisterous. Not that you won't be able to hear each other, but they're the kind of places that you go for fun - if a business group, maybe for "team building" (partying) but not where it's critical for everyone to hear all aspects of business issues being discussed. Since you have three dinners, maybe two of them could be at places like Burke's and tesori that are more suitable for business discussions, and then your third dinner could be at a more festive place like these.

        If your party includes folks from out of town, you might also consider Nacional 27 over Carnivale; the Latin fusion cuisine and large room are similar, but Nacional 27 is walkable from most of the Michigan Avenue hotels, unlike Carnivale. And if you want to go for a "small plates" format rather than Latin fusion, you might also consider GT Fish & Oyster or Sable rather than Quartino, as both have more creative food and craft cocktails, but neither is particularly expensive.

        If this is how you decide to go - two upscale restaurants appropriate for conducting business, and a third that is a bit noisier for a fun dinner - and Burke's and MK are your less noisy places, you might also consider Piccolo Sogno Due as your Italian choice. The food is outstanding, and the atmosphere is more boisterous and louder than tesori or Vivere, while still spacious enough that you'll all be able to hear each other.

        As always in Chicago, there are many great places to choose from!

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thanks - great suggestions! I would have never found David Burke's or Tesori and both sound perfect. We did go to Carnivale previously and really enjoyed it. I will check out Nacianal 27 as well. Two serious nights and one a little more casual sounds like the right mix.

            1. re: lmccrea

              I would slot Tesori for Sunday. On Friday and Saturday nights it can be noisy and packed with symphony patrons, as it is right by Orchestra Hall.

              1. re: camusman

                Or, you can get a 7:30 or later seating for Friday or Saturday, and that won't be a problem. The symphony patrons all leave en masse in time for the symphony, which usually starts at 8 pm. You can check the symphony schedule at www.cso.org/TicketsAndEvents/Default.... Note, there are other theaters in the vicinity, so that phenomenon may occur even if the CSO is out of town. And it is equally true at Vivere.

                Although I ate there on a weekday, when it was not quite half full, I got the impression that tesori wouldn't be overly noisy even when it's full. The acoustics seem to be well designed.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Having eaten at tesori before four Saturday concerts this season, I can provide some information on sound level. The remodeling from when the space housed Rhapsody has reduced the noise level with a full house. The noise level at Rhapsody was well below what you got in the back room of the Gage, for example, as well as my memory of Vivere pre-concert.

                  Seating at 7:30 should be pretty quiet in any case.