Late Kitchen, Moderately Priced
Looking for a place to eat at about 9:30 pm in a few weeks, (Loop, River North, West Loop). Should be moderately priced (entrees about $25), with a good selection of wine & beer (don't care about mixed drinks). Also, does not need to be hush-hush quiet, but cannot be conversationally-challenging either. Old friends, getting together and we want to talk.
Currently leaning towards Belly Q, Farmhouse Tavern, or Quartino. Would welcome your thoughts as to each, or alternative candidates.
I would consider some of the small plates places - specifically, Sable, GT Fish & Oyster, and Mercat a la Planxa (as well as Quartino, which you mentioned but can be a bit loud).
Incidentally, 9:30 isn't all that late a seating. More places than not serve that late, even on weeknights. Past 10 on weeknights and 11 on weekends is when a fair number of kitchens are closed.
Thanks, Nsx. I've been to GT & Mercat and been underwhelmed by both. Sable does not show any openings on OT at 9:30 for the evening in question, although I realize that I might get one if I called them directly.
I'd particularly be interested in comments based on experience as to Belly Q and Farmhouse Tavern, as I've not been to either and their menus looks great. (Been to Quartino.)
(And, yes, I realize that a 9:30 kitchen closing isn't "late." But if we arrive at 9:30, especially for a small plates resto where we might want to order in stages, we'd like to go somewhere where the kitchen does not close before 10 or 10:30.)
I'm surprised you didn't find any openings on Opentable for a 9:30 reservation at Sable. They're usually easy to come by. For example, right now Opentable shows availability for a party of 2 at 9:30 pm for any Saturday this month.
I haven't been to the original Farmhouse location in Chicago. They recently opened a second location in Evanston. I've been there twice and was underwhelmed on both occasions.
When restaurants post their hours, they normally refer to how late they accept seatings. When a restaurant accepts seatings at 9:30, the kitchen stays open long enough for those diners to complete their meals; they don't close the kitchen at 10 or 10:30. Certain restaurants with truly late hours (past midnight) will keep their bar open past an announced time when they close the kitchen, but that's considerably later than the latest time for which they would accept a seating/reservation. For example, Quartino's kitchen closes at 1 a.m. but they don't take reservations for later than midnight.