One dinner in Chicago
My wife and I are visiting Chicago in mid-April to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. We are there for four nights, and we have reservations set for the first three nights: Yusho, Girl and the Goat, and Frontera. We are trying to pick out a place for our final night. We narrowed it down to the following: Sepia, Publican, Purple Pig, Boka and North Pond. Longman & Eagle looked great, but it doesn't take reservations, and we want to have a sure thing.
Of the places above, what should we do for our last night's meal? And if anyone has a recommendation that is not on our list that we absolutely should not miss, please let me know.
Thanks in advance for your help in helping us have a wonderful meal the night we're there.
Nice combination of venues you have selected. Every place you mentioned is excellent. Personally I would choose Boka for your final spot; first of all I think it is an outstanding all around venue (excellent cuisine, wonderful staff and beautiful space) and secondly it is a nice contrast from your other venues (whereas Purple Pig, Publican and Longman & Eagle all are a bit similar to Girl & the Goat in vibe and food style). Chef Wolen's new menu at Boka (he recently took over as executive chef/partner) is great.
Another plus about Boka is that sister restaurant Balena is a short walk away (one block south on same street); they are another of my favorites and you can maybe start there for a cocktail and an appetizer (their pastas and pizza's are amazing - as is just about everything else they offer) or head there after Boka for dessert and an after dinner drink. Great way to extend the evening and fit in another wonderful restaurant. Balena has a large, comfortable bar area and excellent cocktails, so you could head there at your leisure before or after dinner without a reservation (you can order food from the bar too).
If you are in town on a Sunday I strongly recommend doing North Pond for brunch (they only have brunch on Sunday). It is a three course prix fixe (four choices for each course) and is a lunch centric brunch rather than breakfast oriented food - the menu in fact is very similar to their dinner menu, just fewer selections. The location of North Pond is beautiful and dining there during brunch affords wonderful views throughout your meal. This would enable you to fit in one more off your list and the brunch is a great value ($33 for the three courses).
My favorite cocktail lounge is a very short walk from Frontera Grill (Berkshire Room), so I recommend you grab a cocktail there before or after that dinner - if you like bourbon the Weston is my very favorite cocktail (bourbon with Dark Matter coffee essence and pipe tobacco essence) and the Pappy Van Winkle barrel aged negroni is also fantastic. They are open every night.
The Aviary is nearby Girl & the Goat, so that might be worth checking out before or after dinner (they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays - you can try to get in as a walk in, but also can pay a non-refundable deposit in advance to secure a reservation and that money goes towards your tab) - this is the cocktail lounge of Grant Achatz (chef/owner of Alinea).
I personally would go with North Pond.
It's set in Lincoln Park looking over the pond, you can look down the pond at the skyline, really epic views. The location and ambiance are truly unique. The food is excellent (Michelin Starred), but the location and ambiance pushes it way over the top for a last night dinner in Chicago.