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Mar 31, 2014 08:30 AM

40th Birthday Dinner

Fellow Chicago Hounds...

I am turning 40 this coming month and am trying to decide on a dinner spot for my husband to take me to on my birthday. Its a Tuesday night and we will be celebrating the weekend before as well as going away the weekend after so I don't want something as expensive at Grace. It doesn't need to be too intimate, but nothing too loud. We probably want to stay in the price range of about $100 pp. As far as tastes, we like it all. If it were your birthday, where would you want to go?

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  1. Any particular location, any particular vibe (casual/no jeans)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ferret

      We aren't particular on location as long as it is not in the suburbs. For vibe we are ok with dressier or casual. Just looking for a good meal in an atosmosphere that I dont have to yell to my husband for him to hear me and have everyone listening in. For example, we always enjoy our meals at Girl and the Goat but feel its gets to loud in there to hear each other without having everyone else hear us.

    2. Open on a Tuesday, not too loud and in that price range, Boka would be my choice. An ambiance worthy of a special occasion, yet comfortable and laid back. Outstanding food, beverages and service without breaking the bank. They recently did significant renovations and did an amazing job; the restaurant is beautiful. They also obtained Chef Lee Wolen as the executive chef who is IMHO one of the best chefs in Chicago.

      Other possibilities would be Balena (Italian cuisine) or Embeya (Modern Asian fusion). If you could delay the celebration by a day and stretch the budget upwards a bit, I would also add Elizabeth to the mix (they are not open Tuesdays). Really a fantastic all around and unique dining experience.

      If you opt for Balena, make sure you put in the reservation notes you would prefer a quieter table; some parts of Balena are quite energetic/noisy, but other sections are significantly more quiet.

      Have a wonderful 40th!


      1. >> If it were your birthday, where would you want to go?

        Two places. Both of which are in your price range, and offer contemporary American cuisine. Both are really great for celebrations, because of great food combined with other aspects to make you feel really pampered to be there.

        One is Naha. The food from Carrie Nahabedian, the James Beard Award-winning chef-owner, is sublime. And the service and atmosphere make you feel like you're in one of the places that costs hundreds more.

        The other is North Pond. Again, the food from Bruce Sherman, the James Beard Award-winning chef-owner, is wonderful. North Pond also provides its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the far shore. When reserving, tell them it's your big birthday, and ask for seating in the front room, with the full-length windows facing the pond.

        Both of these will provide terrific food as well as a memorable experience. Enjoy!

        5 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thanks Gonzo and nsxtasy,

          Unfortunately North Pond is closed on Tuesdays until mid May so we will for sure do this another time.

          We ended up making a reservation at Boka..

          Thanks again for your suggestions, I am looking forward to trying something new. I keep getting stuck going to the same places with the whole if it isn't broke don't fix it mentality however this year I have decided to give myself a 40 in '14 challenge. Since I am turning 40 this year I have decided to go try 40 places I have never been before. I am close to half way there!

          1. re: Dee74

            Great choice; I am actually just back home from an early dinner at Boka tonight. They just in the past week have introduced several new dishes for the spring (and are rolling more out in the near future). Had yet another outstanding dinner there; the new rabbit course is phenomenal! If you are a fan of octopus, definitely order that as an appetizer. You are in for a treat . That is a fun challenge you gave yourself for your 40th year; enjoy.

            1. re: Gonzo70

              Love octopus so we will definitely get that! I saw the rabbit on the menu, it sounds great. I will probably end up with that or the Loup de Mer.

              1. re: Dee74

                If you love octopus (I do), then one of those 40 places you try this year should be Anteprima, if you've never been there. I keep going back - I've been there more times in the past year than any other restaurant - because everything there is just outstanding, from the bread service, to the savory dishes, to the desserts. Their octopus is the best I've ever had, anywhere. Go on a Sunday through Thursday evening, when they offer almost any three courses on the menu for $29.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Good to know! We don't make it up to Andersonville too often, but this might be something for a Sunday. the menu looks good and 3 courses for $29 is very enticing.