Tickets to the theater? The opera? Dinner? Indeed, Grant Achatz’ follow up to Alinea is an advance-ticketed affair – which is either pretentious, or sort of brilliant, depending on your level of tolerance for such things. no debating the food, however. Menu changes every few months, possibly based on revelatory dreams experienced by the exalted chef. Past themes has included Paris 1906, Childhood, Bocuse D’Or – you get the idea. All plates are high-concept, experimental and might just change your life.
Soho House continues its British invasion of urban America. Chicago edition introduces “member haute” to a city that would seem wary of such things. But this outpost rocks like its city – with not a whiff of haute to be found. To wit, Chicken Shop and PIZZAEAST restos do downmarket hip in groovalicious fashion – whilst stunningly designed Allis lobby bar invites all comers and schmoozers. Hotel rooms are all retro industrial cool. An SH evolution.
Feels a bit like Vegas in the West Loop. Spread over two floors with dedicated Izakaya, overall menu really rather overwhelming. From The Coals section includes surprises like shortrib Mitoboru and angel prawns. Makimono, Nigiri and hibachi selections veer towards the curious and unexpected. Cocktails have inspirational names, Strength & Longevity, Monk’s Journey. Deep.
Philly-based La Colombe is welcome addition to the West Loop. Bare bones operation with no wi-fi, no soy milk, and sleek but simple wood, glass, marble and tile environs. Coffee, however, packs a punch: not only is it roasted in house, the beans are directly sourced from Africa, South America and even Haiti–a testament to the founders’ commitment to fair trade and solid relationships with farmers around the world.
You’ll be hard-pressed to think of a better spot to spend a hard-weather evening than this chic French dive bar in the West Loop. Kick back in the rustic, jazz-infused space and nosh on oysters, mussels and fancy cocktails like the floral-flavored Violet Smash. Just don’t let it all go to your head and start misquoting Sartre or some other such douchey move..
“Top Chef” Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard’s exalted resto. Design firm 555 International behind the wall-length open kitchen, beautiful hardwood floors and vintage fireboxes hovering over classy bar. But it’s Izard who’s behind the small, almost global, plate menu. Catch site of her curly head bobbing in front of the expo line as she hands out smoked goat pizza, pork belly crudo, laughing bird shrimp, grilled lamb ribs and, get this, “Crispy pig face.” (No, seriously, get it. Just don’t think about what it is.)
Erin Gallagher’s jewelry, which has been available in Windy City for years, now has a permanent home in West Loop. Renowned for her contemporary and elegant collections, Gallagher has outfitted the store with antique cases where she can proudly display her baubles. EG artists are always spotted in the back, working away at new additions. Smoky quartz earrings or dangly, 14k gold necklaces are all the rage, plus each style is given its own fun, super-feminine name, like Chloe, Violet and Rosemary.
Following some trends—again with the communal tables and charcuterie?—but leading in some others. From those behind Blackbird, Avec, and Violet Hour, expansive place wants you to ignore the volume and focus on simple, yet confident, menu. Chef de cuisine Brian Huston offers blood sausage dish, impressive oyster menu, Buchot mussels and sustainably-harvested fish. Dizzying 90-plus beer list.
The kind of boutique where you almost always find one great item that you have to buy. The usual brands dominate: Michael Stars, Joe’s Jeans and Trina Turk but you can also find local designer Cyndi Chan’s satin trench coats and Susanna Monaco dresses. K. Amato jewelry and CC Bella jewelry with their unique designs remain customer favorites. Good service, charming atmosphere and a regularly rotation of stylish pieces make you want to stop by often.