Location – The Art Institute (111 S. Michigan)
In one word – Serene
Food – Given that the chef of TP comes from Spiaggia, it should not be surprising that I will only rave about the food. My eating partner and I started with the flatbread with burrata (cheese), spaghetti squash, olives and brown butter. This was my favorite part of the meal – I would order this again in an instant. Then I took on the Mizuna salad, which included avocado, chicken, lime and cashew. This did not blow me out of the water, but I could tell that all the ingredients were super fresh. My eating partner chose the steak salad, which she seemed to enjoy. Then we went crazy with dessert. You must try the chocolate semi-freddo with peanut nougat and salted caramel. Just do it, you can thank me later. We also sampled the holiday cookie assortment. If you have to choose, go with the semi-freddo.
Drink – My eating partner and I were celebrating, so I had a glass of the Gruner Vetliner and she had the Bourdeaux. We were both satisfied with our selections.
Service – We had attentive, but slow, service. Given we were not in a rush, this was not a deal breaker. I was thoroughly amused by the busser who commented after each course on how much or how little we ate. We had a little snafu with the bill at the end of the meal. However, as soon as we mentioned it, things were corrected.
Scene – The restaurant is in the new Modern wing of the Art Institute. Like the rest of the wing, the atmosphere is bright, clean and spacious. Being inside an art museum, the clientèle is…wise, sophisticated…some might say senior. This makes this an ideal location for a ladies lunch or a date.
Dress – The space is nice, but I wouldn’t sweat it on the attire front. During lunch, we were fine in our “Chicago Snow Day” sweater, leggings, boots combo. In the evening, you probably should make a bit more of an effort, but not over the top.
Cost – For wine, shared appetizer, entrée sized salad and dessert, we paid $60 including tax and tip. Pricey yes, but not crazy given the amount of food we ordered.
If you like, try…Cafe Spiaggia, Naturally Peninsula (at the Peninsula Hotel)