Just three train stops from the center of Downtown Chicago is an up and coming neighborhood that’s filled with ’boutiquey’ restaurants. My partner, a luxury travel geek was in charge of booking dinner today. He said nothing about this place, only that it was owned by a high-end chef.
Getting off at our train stop we walk around semi-constructed buildings and actually have a hard time looking for the main entrance of The Office. We walk into the wrong restaurant and they redirect us to the correct entrance, which is around the corner.
As we get to the place, we see the awning and what appears to be a bouncer for a club. We walk up to him and tell him we have reservations for The Office. He speaks into a microphone on his lapel and informs the restaurant that the 7 o’clock is here.
He tells us to wait inside. He opens the grand doors for us and we wait to be seated. Or so I thought. As I waited I saw a very nice, high-end restaurant with a beautiful and elegant clientele. The Aviary, which is known for great food that look like works of art.
“Walk this way” said the staff that greeted us. We followed her. I thought she was taking us to a table but proceeded to tell us a few rules. “You need a key to get in… If you need to step out to use the restroom take the key. Don’t lock yourself out.” I was a little confused but okay, I’ll go along with it. We follow her down a dark staircase, to the basement. Horns of a silver bull head shinned on the wall. She unlocks the door and we enter the dark, elegant and masculine looking bar.
She takes us to our seats, a couple of comfortable chairs with a little side table in between. The ambiance is chill. The light is dim. The decor is, almost Moroccan chic. The chairs are vintage leather, perhaps antiques.
The waiter greets us and says “Welcome to The Office. What are we having to drink tonight?” He is dressed fashionably but professional for a place like this. He has a combed over mohawk. It was an edgy look, overall. High end, yet progressive. I like that.
“Lets get to know each other…” he says… We make small talk and he tells us that this bar is as you please… Its like its your own bar. The bartender will make whatever you want according to your taste… Traditional and non-traditional drinks. I told him I like Cognac and Champagne… He asked if I like fruity or stiff drinks. After I replied he went to the bartender and had a conversation and they conjured up a drink for me. He returned with mine and my partners drink (my partner ordered something traditional) and the waiter said, this is your bar, it’s as you please… I give you a Cognac cocktail, Champagne, whipped egg white, splash of pineapple. It was delicious.
As our night progressed the small place got full (about 10 people total) and eventually closed for anyone else to enter. We ordered more drinks and some food. Liver pate, beef tartar. Rich. Raw and deserving.
At the end of the dinner experience we asked for the check. The waiter brought back a piece of parchment, folded up and sealed with red wax, stamped with the seal of the restaurant.
“Be careful, the wax is hot.” He said. I was excited. We had just been teleported back to the 18th century. I waved our bill to cool the wax, then we opened it and heard the beautiful snap of the wax breaking as we opened the parchment.
We paid and departed.
Let me break it down for you:
- You cannot reserve this place unless you put a $100 deposit — Non refundable
- Books up months in advance
- Dark. Exclusive. Great ambiance.
- Friendly and Edgy staff.
- Our bill was over $250 for what we ordered (4 drinks and 3 appetizers)
Is it worth it? Yes. It’s a great experience and you feel like you have a personal butler making you drinks and specializing food for you.
There are very few restaurants that impress me nowadays and this was one of them. I HIGHLY recommend The Office.