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Jun 10, 2013 05:49 PM

Special Occasion

There are six of us all together, several of whom are coming in from out of town to celebrate my mom’s 90th birthday on a Saturday night. We would like to do this at a great Chicago restaurant. We are based in Hyde Park so a trip to the Near North Side is fine, but anything further out would be a bit of a trek. Criteria should include high-quality food, cocktails and wine; a comfortable and tasteful atmosphere that is conducive to great conversation; and a professional and attentive staff. (My mom has advanced Alzheimer’s, and would probably use a walker or wheelchair. My dad who is 88 and in better health is also part of the group. The others are offspring/in-laws.) We’re not looking for a super trendy place that is loud and crowded. An example of the type of place my parents like is Shaw’s Crab House, but we go there frequently and are looking for something a bit more special. (Other restaurants they like include Kiki’s Bistro, MK, West Town Tavern, and Mon Ami Gabi.) Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. I think Naha would be perfect for your stated needs. The food is delicious and high-quality, the staff is professional and friendly, and it's not overly loud. Also, it's on the ground floor so it provides easy access for your mom.

    Acadia would also work, for all the same reasons, but I like Naha even better.

    I'm not suggesting Alinea, Grace, TRU, Everest, or Spiaggia because it sounds like you're not looking for a place that's hugely expensive ($200+/pp) and dressy (jackets required), but if I'm mistaken about that, all of those are excellent. I also would otherwise recommend North Pond but its location in the middle of the park makes access for your mom more difficult.

    1. Been there and done that.

      Some options you might like include Naha (‎). It's quiet. Great staff.

      Always very good food. And I noticed you had a few French restaurants on your list so I thought you might also like La Sardine in the West Loop (

      7 Replies
      1. re: chicgail

        Les Nomades (, 312-649-9010) came to mind as a quieter, more sophisticated French restaurant compared to the bustling energy of a bistro, although I can not recall their wheelchair-accessibility so that might be a deal-breaker.

        The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel might be another option, 312-573-6760.

        1. re: GourmetWednesday

          Lots of good recommendations so far, but I would second the one on the Lobby. Recently dined here and was blown away by the service and the cuisine; very reasonably priced for the quality. The ambiance is definitely worthy of a special occasion; tables widely spaced apart, highly professional (yet personable) servers, high end (but very approachable) food - even classical music playing live in the background. On Saturday nights there is a lavish chocolate buffet starting at 9:00pm (half price if you have dinner there that evening). The chef is very acclaimed having just come over from Eleven Madison Park in New York. We loved it so much we are likely returning next month.

          1. re: GourmetWednesday

            You are correct GW, there are a handful of stairs at La Sardine. That could be a problem.

            1. re: GourmetWednesday

              I think that Les Nomades is a great idea. It's pricey but it does not sound like price is an issue. The dining area is one flight up from the entrance, but I am fairly confident that there is an elevator. It is quiet, the food is good, and the service staff is old-school correct. I am sure they would treat your family well.

              I love La Sardine but the tables are fairly close together, so I would not call it quiet. Not sure whether the older members of your group have hearing impairments but from my own family experience, La Sardine is the kind of restaurant that I'd avoid in that situation.

              1. re: masha

                If you are interested in considering an expensive, dress-up restaurant, I think TRU or Grace would be a better choice than Les Nomades. Better food, impeccable service, spacious seating, and on the ground floor. and

                I agree that La Sardine may not be the best place for your needs.

              2. re: GourmetWednesday

                I would second the choice for Tru if you are going to do high-end but quiet dining. My meal at Grace was pretty forgettable, compared to the other great restaurants of Chicago and the world, and all 6 of us agreed that our recent meal at at The Lobby in the Peninsula was terrible (the new chef was definitely there but it was so bad we left hungry and had to go get steaks). I haven't been to Les Nomades since Chef Chris Nugent left to start Goosefoot.

                Note that all of these places offer a little more creative and less traditional food, so if your parents aren't as adventurous then I would suggest North Pond or Everest (I haven't been to the latter in a few years).

                1. re: W42

                  North Pond is in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park, not the adjacent neighborhood of the same name) and requires a short walk from the valet parking stand, so it might not be a good choice for your mom.

                  I'm not sure of the access at Everest, which is on the 40th floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building. I know they have parking in the building (free, I believe) and elevators, but I recall a few steps leading from the hoststand to the main dining room, and I don't know if there's an alternative for those with limited mobility. It's a good choice if your family enjoys French cuisine.

                  Also, although you mention wanting to go to a place that's a bit more special than Shaw's, you haven't mentioned whether you would be interested in a dressy (jackets required for gentlemen), expensive restaurant. You can expect to pay over $200 (in the case of Grace, over $300) per person including moderate alcohol and tax/tip at TRU, Grace, Everest, Les Nomades, and Spiaggia. You'll pay less ($100-140/pp) at Naha, Acadia, North Pond, and the Lobby, and jackets are not required. There are other restaurants (e.g. Boka) where you can pay slightly less than that and are still pretty special, if you're interested.

            2. Thanks all for the great suggestions - please keep them coming. Naha does indeed look perfect. Boka also looks intriguing. Fancy or not isn't really an issue, but $200/person might be a little steep. Several of the suggested restaurants don't have prices listed on their menus. (Is it the old adage, if you have to ask, you can't afford it?) We did try Les Nomades several years ago and thought it was indeed quiet. In fact it was so quiet, it almost seemed austere.