“Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.”- Franklin Lloyd Wright
First time I came to Chicago, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving. Weather, people, food, ease… it’s contagious. Home to the world’s greatest hot dog and deep dish pizza, Chicago is also the birth place of Blues, divine fare, AND exquisite art.
Fare | Wine | Cocktails
Executive chef Matthew Kirkley’s global seafood offerings reflect a repertoire of modern and traditional cooking techniques. Intricacies of fish and shellfish are explored to create artful compositions that enhance the innate flavors of hard-to-find ingredients. Collaborating with small purveyors from around the country, the chef serves unique selections of top-quality ingredients. Fierce attention to detail is felt throughout, as even the naturally-leavened bread is made in-house, as are staples like butter, seasoned with Murray River salt from Australia.
dining experience at L2O ranges from the alluring lounge, where guests may order cocktails and wines by the glass, to the elegant dining room, in which a four-course prix-fixe menu is offered, along with seven-course tasting menus. A meal may begin with a dish of pristine ahi tuna, avocado, tomato, and caviar or hamachi with the complex flavors of uni and shiso-lime vinaigrette. Second courses are elegant and luxurious, ranging from Maine lobster bisque with Calvados to Dover sole with Champagne and brown butter. Inventive third courses range from bouillabaisse with fennel and tomato bouillon to lacquered lobster with black trumpet mushrooms and grapefruit. Desserts vary from an airy souffle scented with Grand Marnier to the chestnut crêpe cake with port and cassis.
Chicago-based Dirk Denison Architects has created a warm modern atmosphere that complements L2O’s cuisine with a blend of natural materials and clean lines. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are drawn into a gathering of floor-to-ceiling Macassar ebony columns, which create a subtle yet dramatic transitional space between the building lobby and the dining room. Gently etched glass panels and stainless steel cable screens glow and shimmer, defining intimate spaces within the main dining room without breaking sight lines. White leather chairs and caramel-hued settees beckon guests to unwind for the evening around complementary Macassar ebony tables and blond Sen wood paneled walls. A stunning white onyx niche houses a distinctive table for two, which glimmers with golden hues and sets the scene for a romantic evening. L2O hosts exquisite affairs in one semi-private and two fully-private dining rooms.
Sommeliers Richard Hanauer and Allison Frey guide guests through an extensive wine collection, which offers selections from small producers from around the globe. The collection boasts whites from Burgundy and the Loire, as well as extensive array of Rieslings and Pinot Noirs of classic and progressive expressions. L2O’s comprehensive Champagne selection is ripe with aromatic finesse. Sakes hailing from the finest prefectures in Japan provide a playful accent to a meal and are available by the glass and half-bottle, in order to encourage experimentation.
Upholding the highest standards of hospitality, L2O ensures that each guest feels as if he or she were invited to an elegant dinner party. With its innovative cuisine and engaging atmosphere, L2O unveils a fresh perspective on elegant dining.
L2O is located at 2300 Lincoln Park West (at Belden Avenue), in the Belden Stratford Hotel, and serves dinner six nights a week: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00PM-10:00PM, Friday 5:30PM-11:00PM, Saturday from 5:00PM-11:00PM and Sunday from 5:30PM-10:00PM. For reservations, please call 773-868-0002 or visit www.opentable.com.
L2O | 2300 Lincoln Park West | Chicago, IL | 773-868-0002
A nip here (white walls out, taupe in), a tuck there (tablecloths out, Plynyl in), and—voilà!—Eve is out and Bistronomic is in. Matt Fisher is still the owner, but he has a new chef/partner, Paris native Martial Noguier, and together they pulled off what must be one of the quickest redos in restaurant history—to impressive effect. But for the wraparound bar in the back (an intimate spot for charcuterie and wine), the room doesn’t look terribly different from before, yet the cozy boîte is more subtle—soothing, even. It’s a lovely place to kick back with velvety smooth cauliflower velouté or ahi tuna tartare in a clever baby Mason jar presentation or, best of all, the house-made pâté, from Noguier’s mother’s repertoire. The glazed short ribs are fall-apart fab, and the whole organic chicken for two is the juiciest bird in the most decadent sauce ever. Even an old chestnut like baked Alaska seems oh-so-right on this uncompromising bistro menu. From the Pump Room to One Sixtyblue to Café des Architectes, Martial Noguier has long been a local hero, but Bistronomic is surely his raison d’être.
Bistromic | 840 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago | 312-944-8400
MK The Restaurant
MK considers itself a mom and pop restaurant but the menu and appeal is far more than that. Here is what they say – “we believe: at our core, we’re just a mom and pop establishment. that food is a metaphor for the good things in life. there’s no substitute for live charcoal. that ingredients are more important than recipes. in honoring thy farmer. in sauces and history. forced formality is for fakers. our wine list rocks. if you’re not enjoying yourself, neither are we. that a room full of people dressed for dinner is a thing of beauty. that visual art makes great foreplay. in understated elegance and sensual minimalism. that excellence and consistency are our middle names. we believe in withstanding the test of time.”
MK The Restaurant | 868 N. Franklin | Chicago, IL 60610 | (312) 482.9179
Take two steak-house veterans, a dazzling space along the Chicago River, add a butcher and dry-aging room and you begin to see what Chicago Cut is about. Chicago Cut is dedicated to putting culinary flair back into Chicago’s upscale restaurant scene. That requires a unique menu, an unmatched wine list, and a modern twist on the traditional steakhouse setting.
Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner Monday thru Friday and also Brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Chicago Cuts | 300 N. LaSalle | Chicago IL 60654 | 312.329.1800
Chicago has never had a clear sushi king, à la Masa in Manhattan or Matsuhisa in Los Angeles. West Town’s warm and woody Arami is not in that league, but with time it could sit on the empty throne. I wouldn’t raise a fuss, not after experiencing Byung Kyu Park’s impeccable offerings, from the katsuo tataki sashimi—a super fresh seared bonito topped with a black fig—to a stunning crunchy hamachi maguro ebi (yellowtail, tuna, shrimp) wrapped in rice paper. Park puts care into non-raw items, too, like a tremendous kimchi ramen bursting with pork belly hunks and a rich short-rib donburi with pickled Asian pear. People always call good sushi “pristine,” like it’s a freshly scrubbed kitchen, but Arami embodies the philosophy, urging diners not to blight fish with soy sauce. Finally, we have reason not to.
Arami | 1829 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago | 312-243-1535
Merlo on Maple: Eight-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu
Includes an eight-course “A Culinary Tour of Bologna” chef’s tasting menu for one (see menu tab for details).
Owner and Chef Luisa Silvia has created two different menus at the Merlo restaurants—both housed in historic buildings more than 100 years old—inspired by the traditions of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, specifically the city of Bologna. Using only the finest ingredients, many imported from Italy, Chef Silvia prepares sophisticated recipes based on Bolognese cuisine.
Merlo on Maple | 16 West Maple Street | Chicago, IL, 60610
Chef Roland Liccioni was born in Saigon in the 1950s, Roland’s Vietnamese mother and Corsican father fell in love during a time when many European ex-patriots lingered in Vietnam. In 2000, Chef Roland stirred up downtown Chicago as he took over the stoves of Les Nomades. In two short years, it was clear that wherever Roland Liccioni cooks, four stars and incredible cuisine is the result. The year 2004 brought a new challenge and great partnerships to Roland: the successful opening of Le Lan, with Chef Arun Sampanthavivat of Arun’s, and restaurant proprietor, Howard Davis of Marche, Opera, Red Light, Gioco and Saiko. Le Lan presents French-Vietnamese cuisine, and was named one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2004, as well as one of the top new restaurants to delight Chicago. Chef Roland Liccioni took over the reign as Chef / Partner of Le Francais restaurant in Wheeling. Proprietor Mike Moran feels, we are thrilled to have Roland back to carry on the tradition of Le Francais. It was a mere three months before the Chicago Tribune awarded four stars to Chef Roland Liccioni and Le Francais.
Les Nomades | 222 E Ontario St | Chicago, IL 60611-3258
BISTRO ONE WEST (American)
A one-page menu with three categories: appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Inconceivable. Who dares to be so straightforward in the age of cross-cultural shared plates designed to fit every possible dining permutation? The folks behind the utterly charming Bistro One West, George Guggeis (Mango) and Doug D’Avico (Trattoria No. 10), that’s who. And, by George, it works. Guggeis runs a friendly, relaxed dining room, and D’Avico runs a creative kitchen unburdened by excessive ingredients. Take the jumbo prawns with garlic, chili threads, and shallots, for instance, or the perfectly seared swordfish in a puddle of green-onion sauce—both juicy, delectable, and deceptively simple. The mainstream wine list holds no surprises, but if you dine on the veranda along the Fox River, you really won’t care.
Bistro One West | 1 W. Illinois St. | St. Charles | 630-444-0600
The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) is the only museum in the Midwest with an exclusive commitment to the medium of photography. By presenting projects and exhibitions that embrace a wide range of contemporary aesthetics and technologies, the Museum strives to communicate the value and significance of photographic images as expressions of human thought, imagination, and creativity.
There are over a hundred Art Galleries in the city alone. Art is an integral part of all Chicago is. Experience as much of it as you can … Below is a list of Galleries throughout Chicago – each in their own part of the city.
Biedgeport | Pilsen | South – 12 Galleries including the official “Chicago Art District”
Galleries in River North – 29 Galleries
West Loop – 21 Galleries
Michigan Ave.| River East | South Loop – 15 Galleries
North | Bucktown | Wicker Park - 17 Galleries
Suburbs and Beyond - 27 Galleries
Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is a place where families and caregivers with infants and children are encouraged to create, explore, and discover together through play. The museum features three vibrant floors of exhibits and activities that provide sensory experiences and engaging educational content focusing on literacy, science, math, visual and performing arts, and health.
Some of CCM’s most popular exhibits include: Dinosaur Expedition, where kids can dig for dinosaur bones in an authentic excavation pit; WaterWays, an interactive system of pulleys, pumps, and pipes showcasing the wonders of water; Kids Town, an early-learning exhibit featuring a real CTA bus, mini-grocery store and kid-sized cityscape; daily free family art workshops in the Kraft Artabounds Studio; Pritzker Playspace, an area designed specifically for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents; Play It Safe, a realistic firehouse and fire truck that invites families to learn about fire safety through play; and Skyline, a National Science Foundation-funded exhibit that explores the science, engineering, art, and technology that keep Chicago’s tallest buildings standing.
Children’s Museum of Art
Located at Navy Pier
700 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-3428
For information on what’s happening in the city, click on the link above.