Hello, I am a long-time Chowhound lurker, first time poster. My husband and I will be in Chicago in 2 weeks for a conference and will be able to have only one night out together where we will be able to leave our baby with the in-laws. This will either be a Sunday or Tuesday night. Since we only have one night to go out together, we want to have a fantastic meal.
My first choice was Alinea, however they are booked that Sunday night except for a 5pm reservation for the 12-course tasting (and I wanted to eat at a normal time- starting 7-8pm or so and would have done the full tour at Alinea; I also wouldn't want to feel rushed out of there around 8pm when I'm sure they would have another party ready for that table), and they are not open on Tuesday.
So, I am looking for an alternative. We have never spent much time in Chicago, and now are only able to rarely get out for a nice meal, so we want to have a memorable night. I do not necessarily need another restaurant just like Alinea with "molecular gastronomy" (though we have very much enjoyed this type of dining), but am just looking for any other recommendations for a restaurant with fantastic food, excellent service, and a good atmosphere. We want to go to a place where we will be able to linger for several hours over a long meal.
I had already prepared to spend a fair amount of money at Alinea, so any price range is ok. We are staying in the River North area, but will have a car or can take a cab to restaurants. We enjoy all types of food, and are not vegetarians.
Some of my thoughts on alternative restaurants so far are:
Let me know what you think for a choice for this night out of these places, or I'm happy to hear any other suggestions.
I also may try calling Alinea back a couple of times and see if they have any cancellations for Sunday night- I'm not sure how common cancellations may be, or when would be the best time to call (1 week prior?, 48 hours prior?, etc.)