Chicago’s nightlife reached new heights with last month’s debut of Drumbar. Sitting pretty atop the Raffaelo Hotel, the luxe lounge and rooftop terrace is the Gold Coast’s place to be “scene” this summer.
Take the elevator 200 feet up to enter Drumbar’s stunning speakeasy-style retreat. A sleek bar of thick cut marble will catch your eye, but don’t pause too long. Around the corner, the lounge invites you to cozy up in tufted leather chair and take in the surrounding rich wood, high ceilings, and beautiful people. The lounge’s fireplace makes Drumbar a destination for all Chicago’s seasons, but the rooftop terrace steals the show.
Chicago is in the midst of Chef Week, and if you haven’t had the chance to dig in there’s still room to make a rezzie through this Friday, March 23. I’ve just barely had time to digest last month’s Chicago Restaurant Week, but here are my four favorite bites.
Drinks at Chicago q
Chicago q may have had the week’s best menu. Yet while the hominy, smoked corn and black bean salad and slab of St. Louis baby back were as mouth-watering as expected, it was a cocktail that ultimately won me over. Fusing rye, lemon, OJ, and cinnamon-infused simple syrup, the Orange Blossom Martini offers a spicy, citrusy way to enjoy whiskey that’s all-together too drinkable.
Apps at Bistrot Margot
Old Town’s Bistrot Margot is a mainstay of all classique French fare with charming décor and très generous portions. Simmered in garlic and butter, the satisfyingly briny escargot had me snatching every crumb off the table to soak it up even after the snails were inhaled.
Main at Blackbird
There’s no wrong way to do Blackbird, but the special five-course Restaurant Week tasting menu ($65 rather than the standard $33 or $44) seemed most fitting for my first visit. Choosing a favorite course at Paul Kahn’s gastronomic powerhouse is like choosing the most flavorful movement of an eloquent symphony (or mashup in a dubstep remix if that’s your thing). If you insist, I’ll favor the pekin duck breast. The savory fowl was aged for a week and its slight saltiness rounded out with fuyu persimmon, red wine braised radishes, black beans and sesame.
Dessert at Tapas Valencia
Tapas Valencia may have had somewhat nontraditional tapas service, but in addition to four-course menu the dessert was accompanied with a complimentary glass of cava. After devouring everything set in front of us, the decadent dessert platter of warm chocolate cake, cheesecake, almond pound cake with pear, strawberries, and ice cream drizzled in caramel seemed daunting. Thankfully we had that cava to wash it down.
For Further Exploration
Chicago Restaurant Week 2011 Recap
Posted in 4 favorite things, chicago, eating, events, exploring, gold coast, ohio city, south loop, west loop
Tagged bistrot margot, blackbird, chicago chef week, chicago q, chicago restaurant week, eating, events, gold coast, old town, south loop, tapas valencia, west loop
Ca Nuong at Le Colonial
Cutting into this salmon dish is like slicing butter; and like butter, the tender protein virtually melts in your mouth. Paired with vermicelli and a ginger-lime garlic sauce and served with greens, the flavors are delicately balanced and the portion is more than satisfying.
Le Colonial has just been added to my list of favorite dining spots in the city.
Goat Cheese Empanadas at Branch27
In my opinion, anything served with goat cheese is an instant favorite. The empanada is substantial and not flakey, and is served with a chipotle aioli and cilantro. Branch27 offers an interesting spin on a hands-on classic. The staff is more than accommodating to our large party, and I note some weeknight specials that will have me returning to this wood-lined restaurant.
Sautéed Rainbow Trout at Duchamp
Another winning fish dish, the trout packs great flavor served simply with lemony, buttery goodness. I must say that I am disappointed by Duchamp’s complete menu change, as well the inability to order from the restaurant’s regular menu. All is forgiven with my first pleasing bite, as Duchamp’s minimalist interior allows its food to be the focal point.
Lychee Martini at Le Colonial
Did I mention enjoying Le Colonial? The food, the service, the ambiance are all exceptional. I can list each element of our meals here, but that would be to overlook the delicious libations menu. Our favorite is the refreshing and flavorful lychee martini that goes down a little too well.
Pho at Le Colonial
Altovinium Evodia Garnacha at Branch27
Posted in 4 favorite things, bucktown, drinking, eating, events, exploring, gold coast, west town
Tagged branch27, bucktown, drinking, duchamp, eating, events, gold coast, le colonial, restaurant week, west town