Naturally, the chefs at Cooper’s Hawk have a sharp eye when it comes to wine pairings. Each of the restaurant’s contemporary dishes is crafted with a particular wine in mind, which makes plenty of sense given the fact that there’s a winery located just next door. Surrounded by oaken barrels and racks lined with glistening bottles, diners may be forgiven for thinking that they made a wrong turn and ended up in the winery itself. After your meal, see the real thing in the Napa–style tasting room, where you can sample up to eight different wines. The selection includes something for everyone, including graceful blush wines and cabernets whose flavors unfold like a novel scribbled on the wings of an origami crane.
Michael Dorf stood with his brother Josh, smiling over the barrel filled with wine from grapes they'd just crushed, fermented, and pressed. He claims that despite tastings and classes, he'd never begun to understand wine until this moment. As his understanding grew, he laid the foundations for City Winery: a full winery facility, restaurant, and concert venue inside urban Chicago. He now watches over more than 400 international wines and 20 house wines. Inside the winery, these wines—made from nine US and international varietals—age inside stainless steel tanks and American and French oak barrels. Here, staffers lead winemaking classes, letting visitors join the crushing and fermenting process, and showing them how make private barrels and fill custom juice boxes or bottles pasted with labels of their own design.
These monolithic tanks and barrels can be seen through floor-to-ceiling windows from most of the restaurant's rooms, where servers ferry Executive Chef Andres Barrera's dishes, each a blend of Italian, French, Spanish, and Middle-Eastern flavors. The culinary team crafts small and large plates of artisanal cheeses, seafood, and flatbreads—which they make using the winery's own wine lees as yeast. In the restaurant and Barrel Room tasting bar, staffers pour housemade wines piped fresh from the cellar through 14 taps, while visitors bask in the glow from hard wood and floor to ceiling windows. Patrons dine on a ground floor lit by soft blue lights and hanging lamps fashioned from old wine bottles, as well as a mezzanine level looking out on the city skyline. Private dining rooms gather guests around long communal tables, stretched between exposed brick walls. In the show venue, comedians, live musicians, and slapstick-prone stage crew members entertain audiences under the glow of tabletop candles.
Flatlander's pampers malt-pining palates by balancing a seasonal lineup of more than seven house-made brews with a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare to gourmet entrees. Beer flights guide diners through five distillations and the on-site brewmaster ensures appetizers highlight each brews best qualities, matching seared asian ahi to the crispness of the Jackson Wit and spicy jumbo wings to the Flatlander IPA's training as a firefighter. Thick cuts of homestyle meatloaf and crispy morsels of fish and chips embody the roles of classic pub fare, subtly supported by gourmet-inspired castmates such as linguine pomodoro and USDA-prime center-cut filet mignon. An arsenal of 13 hearty burgers accessorized with toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, or fried onions gratify any diet while bookended around a choice of USDA-prime chuck, ground turkey, veggie, or peppermint patties.
Since its establishment in 1936, Schaefer's has acquired a wealth of notoriety for its comprehensive yet complex assortment of complementary flavors. The drinkporium stocks hundreds of bottles of globally acquired wines, and fills aisles with unusual and exotic beers. The spirits department lines up anything from top-shelf whiskey to high-proof elixirs. And the gourmet goods section hosts fine, finger-friendly apps and pairables, such as imported French Saint-André cheese ($14.99 per lb.), Cacciatore artisan salami ($18.99), chocolates, and dips, making customers want to hold back a few shillings in their satchels. Because Schaefer's maintains its commitment to diversity and quality, items such as wine, beer, and liquor bottles range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each.
Cuisine Type: American tavern fare
Most popular offering: Giant German pretzel
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Alcohol: Full bar
Number of Tables: 25?50
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Parking: Metered street parking
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Pro Tip: Enjoy great craft beer, tavern fare, sports, and live music.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
Our tavern fare complements the quality of our craft beer and spirits. We start with classic comfort foods, combine them with traditional bar offerings, and give them a contemporary spin. The portions are ample and the flavors are bold. Taste, savor, and enjoy.
What made you want to work with food? When did you first develop that passion?
My passion for food, craft beer, hospitality, and entertainment has been evolving since an early age. With 17 years of experience in the industry, I continue to have a passion for taking care of people and making sure they are having a good time.
Determined to find out how his favorite pizzeria made its pies, 13-year-old Vince Bibattista didn't scour cookbooks or even ask the chefs. Instead, he got a job there, which jumpstarted a lifelong culinary passion that led him to various Chicago kitchens and the classrooms of Kendall Culinary College before landing him at executive chef position at Evanston’s Campagnola. At the critically lauded Union Pizzeria, Vincent combines his experience with a return to his roots as he tops his wood-fired pizzas with locally grown, organic ingredients such as lamb, potato, and capers. He supplements those pies with shareable hot plates such as shrimp and grits, as well as cold plates such as bruschetta crowned with white beans and roasted cherry tomatoes––a cold plate far more appealing than the salted snow served at other locally-focused restaurants. To round out his Italian-style feasts, Vincent also crafts a different main every day, including balsamic-braised short ribs and herb-roasted Amish chicken.