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Public Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 15 07:00 AM

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Here's a cure for the energy crisis: Figure out what fuels Ian Schrager. As if redefining the entire hotel industry weren't enough, now the man responsible for the rise of the boutique is aiming to shift the paradigm yet again.

Schrager's new Public Chicago, a renovation of the 285-room Gold Coast institution the Ambassador East, is a thumb to the nose of the trend he unleashed. The color palette is notable for its lack thereof, the design is clean and minimal, there are no gimmicks. Instead, Schrager puts the focus on essentials, such as sincere service. Jean-Georges in the kitchen of the Pump Room and what's sure to be a rocking lobby library (coffee shop/group work space by day, cocktail lounge by night) are the only nods to excess. Think of it as a Master Cleanse to self-conscious hipness.

Photo: Courtesy of Ian Schrager

Barn and Company, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 16 12:44 PM

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Chicago newcomer Barn & Company is the pits. Delicious, meaty, hickory-smoked pits, that is. And we're fired up about its country-crossing menu referencing barbecue traditions from Texas to Memphis to Kansas City.

The dining room has a rustic city slicker vibe with reclaimed barn wood walls and rusted tin ceilings installed to add a bit of patina to the space. It's the ideal place to down brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and links. Tables look onto the open kitchen where chef and BBQ expert Gary Wiviott mans the smoker and mixes up sauces. If you can't stand the heat, order up a jam jar of beer or a Redneck Sangria. Pork plus bourbon-spiked wine? That's our idea of a pig out.

Photo: Courtesy of Barn & Company

 

The Office, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 30 03:30 PM

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Chicago super-chef Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, the Aviary) has a new trick up his toque: the Office (955 W. Fulton Market), a basement cubicle-turned-speakeasy that's invite-only (if, like us, you prefer your nightlife mysterious and exclusive).

What awaits in Chicago's hottest inner sanctum? A 14-seat lair of Oriental rugs and battered leather chairs, and a dark wood bar holding exclusive bottlings and one-off runs. The ice is custom-chipped and -molded; the 165 tinctures, 30 syrups, and herbal potions, wizarded in-house. If you're tempted by a tequila-claret-applewood-eucalyptus-lemon balm concoction or a snifter of 70-year-old Chartreuse served in clandestine surroundings, we suggest you call in your connections now.

Photo: Courtesy of Grant Achatz

Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, May 18 07:00 AM

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You've had South Carolina barbecue, Texas barbecue, even Korean-style. But just when you thought the BBQ trend was growing cold, Chicago's new Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar throws some coals on the fire.

The River North restaurant is set to get Americans all hot and bothered about Japanese-style BBQ. Chefs maintain their kushiyaki robata grill at a blistering 600°F to sear chicken thighs with Japanese curry, prosciutto-wrapped scallops with wasabi-avocado puree and sweet plum sauce, and fish cakes with Wisconsin pepper jack and togarashi.

For those who prefer to keep it cool, there's an assortment of inventive sushi rolls (spicy tuna, seared salmon, and ponzu with cilantro and okra, wrapped in collard greens). And the dining room's spray-painted murals evoke 1980s street art and anime flicks, making it the kind of space that invites you to kick back a few cold ones and eat your fill. Go ahead--with everything priced under $20, you won't get burned.

Photo: Courtesy of Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar

Hubbard Inn, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 04 08:50 PM

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Travel lovers can't help but romanticize Ernest Hemingway's wanderings. Three such admirers have turned that adulation into--what else?--a bar.

Located on an up-and-coming foodie stretch in Chicago's River North neighborhood, the Hubbard Inn is decorated with what owners Daniel Alonso, Adolfo Garcia, and David Mitria envision Papa bringing back from his travels. Moroccan tiles line one wall, 1940s-style oil paintings hang on another, and more than 5,000 vintage books fill the bar's carved bookcases. The food served also tips its topper to the writer, incorporating ingredients from his journeys (Cabrales cheese, Medjool dates) as well as less literal interpretations such as stout burgers and earthy bone marrow.

Of course, no Hemingway tribute would be complete without booze--and lots of it. Here you'll find one of Chicago's best bourbon selections, new takes on classics like the Manhattan, and the author's namesake drink, made with 10 Cane rum, maraschino liqueur, and lime and grapefruit juices. Raise a glass (or eight) to big Papa.

Photo: Courtesy of the Hubbard Inn

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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