While you’re at the 2013 NRA Show, held May 18–21 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, take advantage of some of the best dining destinations the Windy City has to offer.
Baume & Brix
351 W. Hubbard St.
This globally inspired yet Chicago-accented newcomer retains hints of its 1920s industrial past in combination with today’s cutting-edge culinary styles. Executive chefs Thomas Elliott Bowman, Ben Roche and Nate Park encourage diners to explore and share new taste combinations, from burrata with bacon-date compote, salad and pepitas to grilled butterfish with salsify, asparagus and hazelnut milk.
1400 W. Randolph St.
In a partnership with basketball legend Michael Jordan and Cornerstone Restaurant Group, local Bill Kim of Urban Belly and Belly Shack brings his take on modern Asian barbecue Korean-style to Jordan’s former 160 Blue at the west end of the Randolph Street restaurant row. Guests choose from a number of intriguing small bites, hot pots or stir fries, such as tea-smoked duck breast. Or, you can cook your own proteins at selected tables.
The Boarding House
720 N. Wells St.
Alpana Singh, who hosted Chicago’s Check Please on PBS for 10 years, has gone back into the restaurant business in a big way. Knowing her stellar sommelier credentials, a unique and extensive wine list is a given. Staffers can advise which ones to pair with updated comfort foods such as Edith’s fried chicken, seared diver scallops or Strauss veal chop with citrus-braised endive, foie gras sauce and watercress.
435 N. Clark St.
A rebirth of the Richard Melman/Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Southern barbecue and country music-themed restaurant of the 1990s, the new Bub City is geared more to the younger generation represented by the senior Melman’s three adult children who have gone into the family business. In addition to barbecue, including Carolina-style pulled pork, the rustically designed casual restaurant and whiskey bar features a shellfish bar, Southern pies and emerging country bands on some nights.
652 W. Randolph St.
Fine dining is alive and well at this 74-seat prix fixe only spot that’s typically booked two months out. Each 12-course menu, one meatless, costs $185 without drinks. “There has been a decline in refinement; we wanted to put Chicago back on the national scene,” says Michael Muser, partner with chef Curtis Duffy, formerly of Alinea and Avenues. Muser says that he can usually “squeeze in” some additional tables for walk-ins.
Howells & Hood
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Named for the architects of its distinctive Tribune Tower location, this spacious newcomer from six-unit Bottleneck Management with its prime Magnificent Mile location aims to become a culinary landmark. Serving everything from steak and lobster to regionally raised vegetables, the restaurant and bar boasts 29 flat-screen TVs, 114 beers and one of the city’s best seasonal patios.
Little Market Brasserie
10 E. Delaware Pl.
This classy newcomer from Mercadito Hospitality of Miami, New York and Chicago in the Talbott Hotel is not your ordinary hotel restaurant. This new concept, with kitchen leadership from Chicagoan Ryan Poli, has an original lunch and dinner menu that boasts unusual signature dishes such as sunchoke salad, short rib poutine, monkfish with lentils, squash, bacon and Bordelaise sauce and a Baja lobster roll.
198 E. Delaware Pl.
Intended to be an everyday eatery for the Gold Coast crowd, Local Chicago is a comfortable tavernesque restaurant with an Americana theme and hearty homestyle favorites like meat loaf made from USDA Prime beef, rotisserie chicken pot pie, salmon Reuben sandwiches and original twists on classic cocktails. Owned by David Flom and partners from Chicago Cut Steakhouse, Local Chicago is open from breakfast through late-night dinner.
51 W. Kinzie St.
Dine/Amic Group, the operators behind Bull and Bear and The Public House, own this partnership with Fabio Viviani, one of the temperamental celebrity chef contestants from Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.” Although Los Angeles-based Vivani is not at Siena Tavern often, his Italian influence is present in menu items that include fresh mozzarella, woodstone pizza and crudo stations, in addition to a wealth of housemade pastas, salads and a few entrees, such as a Florentine-style aged porterhouse for two.
Sumi Robata Bar
702 N. Wells St.
Named for the purest form of Japanese charcoal, Sumi pays tribute to nature inside and out, including in its seasonal zen garden. Chef/partner Gene Kato, formerly of Japonais, has left fusion behind to focus on presenting simply grilled small portions of foods like wagyu ribeye with wasabi ponzu, bone-in lamb chop with spicy miso, chicken gizzards and sashimi.
65 E. Adams St.
Housed in the same building as the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Tesori caters to a somewhat refined audience that also appreciates the food arts. The classic Italian menu with modern twists ranges from beef carpaccio to tortellini with fontina fonduta, toasted sage butter and tomato concasse to Mediterranean fish with seasonal vegetables. Some of the sublime creative cocktails are exclusive to Tesori.
350 N. State St.
Reminiscent of the old Crickets and New York’s 21 Club, Tortoise Club updates those clubby classics with a contemporary yet timeless menu. Signature dishes include steak tartare, wild pheasant pot pie and fresh Dover sole with Champagne truffle sauce. Owner Keene Addington is the founder of multiunit Flat Top Grill, an Asian stir-fry concept that he sold three years ago.