In three visits, I've found the food at Sable to be fine, but not worth going out of the way for. I haven't been back in a couple years, but based on the menu and Sable's lack of mention in the food press, I suspect not much has changed.
Sable is a hotel restaurant. The chef, Heather Terhune, has spent the vast majority of her career in hotel restaurants. Now, hotel restaurants by definition aren't bad. David Burke's Primehouse in the James Hotel and Nico Osteria in the Thompson Hotel are both excellent. But for the most part, hotel restaurants have to play it safe because their primary audience is hotel guests. And that's where I think Sable sits: safe food done well.
Sable has had outstanding drinks thanks to bartender extraordinaire Mike Ryan. Ryan, however, has poured his last drink at Sable. The company that owns Hotel Palomar and a few other hotels recently promoted Ryan to overseeing the beverage program for all of their properties. By all means, it's a great place for a drink before going out to eat at a better restaurant.
With the exception of Thrillist's list of best lobster rolls (http://www.thrillist.com/eat/chicago/...), I can't remember the last time Sable appeared on anyone's "Best of" list for any food category. Sable has not received a Michelin star or Bib Gourmand; it's rarely mentioned on LTHForum, Chicago's most active food web community; it's ranked 411th in Chicago by Opentable users (not counting the suburbs); among those Chicago restaurants on Opentable that have received more than 100 reviews, it's ranked 160th (and keep in mind there are a host of restaurants that don't use Opentable); and based on Yelp popularity, it's not even in the top 40 in it's zip code.
In other words, by the most objective measures, Sable is not a notable restaurant.
However, Sable is one of the most frequently recommended restaurants on this Board. Virtually every single time someone asks for general food advice for a good meal in Chicago, Sable is mentioned. I can't tell if that's because it's actually really popular on CH or if it's because one or two posters keep saying the same thing.
So I thought I'd start a thread to gauge the entire CH community's feelings about Sable. That way, when visitors come here to look for dining advice, they'll have a way to read up on Sable to see if it's worth their time.
I'll start. Of the items still on the menu at Sable, I've had the deviled eggs (very good). the sweet corn creme brulee (pretty good to try once but no need to order again), the bacon jam (bacon jam is always good and this one is as well) and the burger (medicore at any price; offensive for $18).
I don't think Sable is a bad restaurant. But in a city full of so many great dining options, unless someone is staying at the Hotel Palomar and the weather outside is atrocious, I can't recommend that anyone get a meal there. But no one person's word should be taken as gospel. Definitely not mine.
What do you guys think? Is Sable in your top 10? Top 25? Top 50? Under what circumstances would you choose to eat there?