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May 12, 2014 01:58 PM

Quiet dinner suggestions both upscale and casual

Hi...I'll be traveling for work to attend a conference in Chicago and we have work related dinners on two of the nights. One of my colleagues is deaf in one ear so loud restaurants are difficult for him. Hoping someone could suggest 1) a great upscale restaurant that is on the quiet side (would David Burke's qualify??) and 2) a more casual restaurant that appeals to most palettes...the group going out this night has limited funds to spend and there are some picky eaters in this group. Thanks so much!!

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  1. David Burke's is widely regarded as one of Chicago's best (if not best) steakhouses; so if you are wanting a steak dinner that would be an excellent choice. Some other places to consider in or near the downtown area that are not too noisy and offer excellent upscale cuisine:

    Embeya in the West Loop: Featuring Asian fusion. Beautiful space, amazing food, warm staff and great beverage program as well:

    Boka in Lincoln Park: Upscale but approachable Contemporary American cuisine. Fine dining quality food but more of a relaxed, upscale neighborhood bistro ambiance. Also wonderful staff, gorgeous (freshly renovated) space and just amazing cuisine:

    Grace in West Loop: Formal and very expensive, but if you do not mind a splurge (just over $200 per/person for food alone), Grace is my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago. Some of the best taking food I have ever had, the best service I have experienced in Chicago, beautiful plating (most courses look like works of art) and a dining room that manages to be the epitome of luxury yet comfortable and relaxing (and very quiet; massive tables that are spaced far apart):

    For the more casual, less expensive venue here are a couple of options:

    Little Goat in West Loop: Very affordable upscale diner cuisine by celebrity chef Stephanie Izard (sister restaurant to Girl & the Goat). The menu is vast and definitely something for everybody from picky eaters to those with a sophisticated palate. Definitely the best diner food I have tasted (and best service at a diner) by far. They have a full bar as well. It can be a little noisy as it is often crowded, but I find the acoustics quite good and have never been bothered by it being too noisy:

    Ceres' Table: If your group does not mind travelling away from downtown area to a neighborhood (Lakeview) this Italian restaurant might be a great choice (cabs are relatively available in Chicago and reasonably priced compared to most big cities I have been). Ceres' table serves outstanding Italian cuisine and again has something for everybody (wood oven pizzas, housemade pastas, meat and cheese boards, steak, fish, pork chops etc. Excellent cocktails and wines that are very affordable for a restaurant of this caliber. I love the space and the staff here are so friendly.

    1. For more casual, limited budget, and picky I second Gonzo with Little Goat (they take reservations now other than brunch). An alternative would also be Quartino. I take my team to Quartino all the time, small to medium Italian plates and reasonable wine in carafes. They even make a great plain pizza for those really choosy eaters.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jbontario

        Quartino is great, but the main floor is loud, loud, loud (all subway tile and hard surfaces). Upstairs is less so, but it was not my first thought when I read "on the quiet side."

        1. re: jbontario

          Hi I am a big fan of Quartino. Would be great for the group. It is very loud, if your colleague with a difficult time hearing is joining.

          David Burke's Primehouse, Embeya, and Little Goat are excellent suggestions.

        2. David Burke's would definitely qualify. Great steaks, and not terribly loud. Another restaurant I've enjoyed that's subdued for noise level is Atwood, in the Hotel Burnham. The Lobby, in the Peninsula Hotel, and Naha, are both also good upscale choices for this purpose. And Grace is great if you don't mind the high price.

          Casual places tend to be loud, but some more so than others. One of my favorites, Sable, is not terribly loud, especially if you get seated in the small extra dining room at the east end of the restaurant, which they sometimes use for private parties. If you can get seated in that room, it would be perfect.

          Wherever you go, I recommend that when you make your reservation, you request being seated in a quieter area of the dining room.

          1. A response on another Chicago thread jogged my memory of another option, in terms of a modestly priced restaurant that appeals to most palettes - La Scarola, which is a truly "old school" Italian restaurant located in the West Loop. What I cannot recall (it's been awhile since I've been there) is the noise level. Perhaps some other Chicago 'hounds can opine on noise level.

            1. If noise in a restaurant is a problem for your colleague, avoid Topolobampo. My husband used hearing aids and was so troubled by the noise there that we had to leave.