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Best Foie Gras near Chicago downtown (River North)?

What is your favorite foie gras dish in Chicago? We will be visiting with a 2 year old so can't go to anywhere too fancy (ie. no Alinea). But we're willing to go to nice restaurants that are noisy in general. We are staying in River North so looking for something close by, but willing to travel for really good food as well!

Thanks!

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  1. North Pond and Naha both have excellent dishes of seared foie gras and it's almost always on the menu. (I prefer it - the hot version - rather than a "torchon" or other variation served cold.) Neither is formal, i.e. no jackets required, but both are nicer places where "business casual" attire prevails. (Neither is overly noisy though.) Prices at both are not inexpensive, but not as high as the high-end fine dining places, either; expect to pay $100-130 per adult including moderate alcohol and tax/tip.

    North Pond - Unique for its setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond and the city skyline. When reserving, request a table in the front room with the full-length windows facing the pond. James Beard Award-winning chef turning out wonderful food (special props to the dessert chef too). It's a couple of miles north of River North, a short cab ride. My recent dinner there was the best so far of 2014. www.northpondrestaurant.com

    Naha - Like North Pond, another James Beard Award-winning chef turning out wonderful food. Right in River North. www.naha-chicago.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks, nsxtasy! I've found a lot of valuable recommendations from you on this board! I would love to go to North Pond based on the many recommendations, but do you think it's appropriate to bring my 2 year old to dine there?

      1. re: mmlyip

        >> do you think it's appropriate to bring my 2 year old to dine there?

        It depends. If he/she is reasonably well behaved, then probably yes. If he/she is likely to scream and/or throw food and/or run around the restaurant, then probably no.

    2. Among the many tasty items at Purple Pig is a foie gras "smear." It is noisier than the other places mentioned and so I think it would be better for a two year old. I would suggest going between 2 and 4 p.m. to avoid long waits.
      (Foie gras and kid-friendly is a tough combo.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Polski

        >> (Foie gras and kid-friendly is a tough combo.)

        This is true. Presumably due to its cost, foie gras tends to be on the menu primarily at upscale, and at least moderately expensive, restaurants. Those tend not to be the noisy/crowded/trendy places, which tend to be more affordable (which is partly why they're so crowded). I'm not saying that none of the latter have foie gras, but I'm having a tough time thinking of any downtown. I've checked menus for some other places downtown, but have been unsuccessful at finding it.

        If you're willing to travel, I've had it at two fairly casual restaurants in Evanston, the first town north of the Chicago city limits on the lake, 14 miles north of the Loop. The Stained Glass is a casual, noisy, wine bar and restaurant, and they have a foie gras "BLT". Chef's Station is another casual place, albeit not overly noisy, and they usually have seared foie gras on the menu. Both are within a few steps of the Davis Street stop on the CTA Purple Line and on Metra. (Chef's Station is actually housed in the same building as the Metra station.)

      2. I am not sure about the 2 year old wrinkle, but some good places close-ish to River North would be Maude's and Au Cheval (Maude's has a counter part, Gilt, in River North, but we always go to Maude's so I can't speak to the Foie there). At Maude's our order is always beef tartare, foie pate, and the lyonnaise salad. They have amazing drinks. I've never been there before 10, so I have no idea if it is child friendly. They do have an outside space - that could be an option.

        Au Cheval is like an upscale French diner. They have foie gras scrambled eggs for brunch. Awesome.

        4 Replies
        1. re: RTH71

          Good choices upthread. I think Maude's would be ok for a child, at an early hour, upstairs where it is more of a dark, leather banquette supper lounge vibe. (IIRC, the sidewalk patio is communal seating. The inside downstairs space tends to be loud and crowded.) Au Cheval would be better. I think we'd also be remiss to not mention Hot Doug's, the one restaurant to receive a citation during Chicago's ill-fated ban on foie. Your child could get a corn dog or mini bagel dogs, and you could get the famed Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel. The down sides are it is a few miles from your hotel, in an area that most visitors don't go except to try Doug's, it is closing October 4, and the lines are very long, often well over an hour, so challenging for a child that isn't asleep. In summary, probably not the best choice for you, but it's the Chicago board so had to be mentioned!

          1. re: GourmetWednesday

            Note, now that Hot Doug's has announced they are closing, lines are typically running two hours or more, even if you get there before they open.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks! Seared foie gras is definitely my favorite, so I think I will call North Pond tonight and see if they will welcome my toddler. She's pretty good at restaurants in general, but can sometimes speak a bit too loudly, so might not be best at a quiet romantic restaurant

          2. re: RTH71

            You can get the foie gras with scrambled eggs at Au Cheval during weekday lunch, too. It's delicious but very heavy.