Hello Chicago chowhounds!
My partner is celebrating his 50th birthday and we wanted to have a special night with 10 - 12 friends flying to your great town from all over the country for hours (yes we want to make it last) of unforgettable food and company. I specifically want to avoid Alinea because of a bad experience with its management staff (though I know we will be missing the much-hyped experience) - giving me the shock and awe effect of the cost, then not returning my calls, I guess half-hoping that I would just go away. But I am sure that Chicago has much more to offer. Since we are splurging and may not be able to do this again, we are aiming for the best food that money can buy. Since our friends are already committed to traveling, anywhere in the city is fine. Since we are all about the food - decor and ambience are completely secondary, though privacy might be nice. Cuisine is also secondary as food itself for us is good if it's done well, no matter "terroir". On searching, Schwa seemed to stand out, in reviews and attitude. We want the locals to tell us what's what, though.