Fine Dining near O'Hare for Dinner?
I have a friend that will be staying at the Chicago O'Hare Hyatt Regency in a couple of weeks for a convention, and we want to go out to a fine dining restaurant nearby (drive time 20 minutes or less). Any suggestions on a place for a memorable meal? We want to avoid downtown Chicago, because I can't deal with the traffic and parking situation in that area. And also a place where we could get reservations early in the week for dinner on Saturday around 7:30pm.
It depends on what you consider "fine dining". If a steakhouse qualifies, then Gibson's in Rosemont, right near the Hyatt, is worth considering. (I don't think of most steakhouses as fine dining, but some folks do; I'm not trying to be picky about words, just trying to help answer your question.)
I wouldn't rule out downtown Chicago, where most of the fine dining restaurants are. Traffic wouldn't be too bad on a Saturday, and anywhere nice has valet parking, so there's no need for concern on either count. So maybe that's still a possibility? The true fine dining restaurants consist of Alinea, Grace, Everest, TRU, Spiaggia, Les Nomades, L2O, and Sixteen. You might be able to get reservations the same week at all of these except maybe Alinea (although it would be worth checking Alinea's website to see). All of the others accept reservations on Opentable so at a glance you can see which ones are available. Note also that Alinea and L2O are in the Lincoln Park neighborhood a couple miles north of downtown.
There are also some "near fine dining" restaurants, that are just a step below the previous group in price and formality (North Pond, Naha, Acadia, Goosefoot, Brindille) or that have a non-traditional format (Elizabeth, El Ideas).
As another option (and perhaps your best), you might consider getting a reservation at Vie, in west suburban Western Springs. Although it's not near O'Hare, Google Maps says it's 20 minutes (15 miles) from the Hyatt. It's not as formal (or as expensive) as the true fine dining restaurants above, but it's a thoroughly excellent chef-driven restaurant with one Michelin star. It's the only place I can think of that's not downtown (or near downtown) and comes close to what you're looking for. www.vierestaurant.com
Finally, especially since this is for a Saturday night, I recommend making a reservation NOW, rather than waiting until a few days before. If your plans change, you can always cancel it (except at the prepaid places: Alinea, Elizabeth, El Ideas). If you wait until then, the place you want may no longer be available.
Believe me, I've been to downtown Chicago in my mini-van before, a couple of times, and I will never do it again. I've lived in the suburbs most of my life, and driving in any large city sends my anxiety off the charts. I don't even like driving in downtown Milwaukee!
As far as what I mean by fine dining, I'm referring more to the type of food, rather than the ambiance. I don't need white linen tablecloths, but I'd like the food to be somewhat innovative, beautifully presented and reliably delicious.
Thank you so much for suggesting Vie! It's definitely along the lines of what we're looking for. :D
Reservations have been made at Vie via OpenTable.com. :D Thank you so much for the suggestion!
I realize that you've already booked at Vie in Western Springs (or as to any other CH with a similar interest), another fine dining alternative that is about 1/2 the distance from O'Hare is Gaetanno's in Forest Park, http://gaetanos.us/. Very creative and well executed modern Italian cuisine. The room décor is festive and not as subdued as Vie, so perhaps not "fine-dining" in that sense (but the OP indicated he was concerned about the quality of food, not ambiance), but excellent, up-scale food.