New Year's Eve is one of the biggest restaurant nights of the year, as hordes of people go out to celebrate with friends and family over plates of food and copious amounts of bubbly. With so many restaurants offering New Year's Eve dining deals and special menus, it can be a hard sea to navigate. Allow me to narrow it down for you, honing in on a few different ways you can do New Year's Eve.
(Caviar tasting at Henri)
For the Fancypants
If cranberry gelée, cardamom ice wine granite, and crayfish mousseline fit your fancy, then spend your New Year's Eve at Henri. The haute French bastion across from Millennium Park is offering a four-course prix fixe for $80 per person and a four-course Grand Tasting menu for $130 per person. Dishes include a bombe de foie gras with cranberry gelée, green grapes, cardamom ice wine granite, and walnut bread; crayfish mousseline with black trumpet mushroom duxelle, Perigord truffle, black radish, and sauce vin blanc; and soufflé au cafe with caramel anglaise. The grand tasting features langoustines, pâté de canard, chevreuil, and gateau St. Honore. There's also an optional caviar tasting menu, served on abalone shells hand-carved by chef Gawronski and his father.
Things get chic at Sepia this New Year's Eve, complete with sumac-cured cobia, boudin blanc, kabocha squash tarts, and lobster thermidor ravioli. A glistening crown to cap off 2013, Sepia's New Years' menu offers elegant plate choices throughout the meal. The first seating from 5:30 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. gets four courses, while the second seating from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. gets five courses plus a pre-dessert Champagne float. The first is $90 per person and the second is $120 per person, plus optional wine pairings. Reservations can be made by calling 312-441-1920.
For the Laid-back
Barcito offers a casual, bar vibe for New Year's Eve, complete with small bites, invigorating cocktails, and an all-you-can-eat tapas package. Starting at 10:00 p.m., patrons can reserve a three-hour open bar for $80 per person, because there is no better way to ring in the new year than with free-flowing booze.
An a la carte menu is the focal point at laid-back bellyQ, chock full of all the Asian 'cue you'll need to send 2013 off with a bang. A live DJ will keep the vibe thumping, and the restaurant is partnering with Lumen to offer a variety of customizable party packages. Purchase tickets here.
It doesn't get any more chill than a good ol' fashioned pig roast. County keeps it cool with pork aplenty, plus midnight eggs, brisket, and debris. There's also an open bar chock full of American whiskey, spirits, and craft beer. Reservations can be made here.
Here's a fun one. DMK Burger Bar is toasting to the new year and bidding the old one adieu by bringing back the year's best burgers in slider form. Also, a secret midnight burger will be revealed just before the clock strikes 2014. There will also be tater tots, fries, and boozy shakes, along with DJ Groover Cleveland. Make reservations for DMK Lakeview here or DMK Lombard here.
As far as holiday tasting menus go, The Bristol's is pretty chill. The prix fixe costs a relatively scant (by NYE standards) $75 per person, featuring a selection of pâtés and mousselines, a pasta course of spinach garganelli, a choice of entree (short ribs, strip steak, halibut a la nage, or roast wild mushrooms), and dessert from The Bristol's brand new pastry chef, Sarah Koechling. Call 773-862-5555 to make your reservation.
For the Boozy
Nothing says "happy new year!" like a bubble bash. That's why you need to make like a glamorous lush and get yourself a spot at The Boarding House, River North's preeminent wine temple. Along with a bubble bash happening on the first floor of the wine bar (think bubbly, not laundry suds), the restaurant will offer two prix fixe dinner seatings featuring multiple courses of food and optional wine pairings, but really just do it. First seatings are between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and cost $65 per person, while second seatings are between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. and clock in at $85 per person. The bubble bash takes place at 8:00 p.m. and runs till midnight, at $38 per person. Call 312-280-0720 for seating reservations or visit here for bubble bash tix.
This New Year's at The Gage, it's as much about the wine and cocktails as it is about the contemporary American cuisine. Doors for the festivities open early, at 11:00 a.m., and keep going all day and night. Cocktails such as the Pink Gators (mezcal, Punt e Mes, cranberry, rhubarb) and Shoney's Cup (Sheep Dip Scotch, Zirbenz Stone Pine, and cardamaro) will get the party started, followed by an a la carte feast or a tasting menu paired with wines.
Booze-lovers would be wise to celebrate New Year's Eve in an actual distillery. Do so at CH Distillery, where a five-course dinner menu is adjoined with cocktail pairings for $150 per person. Reservations are available between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling 312-707-8780.
Billy Sunday harkens to years gone by with a vintage New Year's celebration inspired by Victorian America. The evening features cocktails, spirits, and passed hors d'oeuvres, such as Punch Romaine, cider from a firkin keg, old-world wines, Madeira, caviar, oysters, pig trotters, turtle consommé, and more. The cost is $175 per person and can be purchased by calling 773-661-2485.
For the Family-styling
It's a family-style affair this New Year's Eve from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Browntrout. The leisurely North Center restaurant will be doling out three courses of family-style dishes, with options for each course. Those include roasted butternut squash soup with fried sage, crushed hazelnuts, brown butter, and Monterey Jack; glazed Brussels sprouts with country ham, apple cider, and pickled cranberry; herb-roasted organic chicken with penne, roasted turnips and carrots; local prime rib with creamy sweet potatoes, wild mushrooms, and horseradish crème fraîche; and rice pudding with fried pecans and Concord grape jam. The cost is $45 per adult and $18 per child. After 7:00 p.m., the restaurant shifts to a la carte with specials designed for couples, so tuck the kids in bed.
No better way to bring families together than over a spread of pizzas. La Madia's family-style New Year's Eve feast offers the perfect ticket, featuring a prix fixe of family-style dishes ranging from spinach-taleggio fondue to sliced prosciutto and figs to fire-roasted beets, a variety of pizzas, crab pasta, chicken Milanese, and housemade chocolate truffles. The menu costs $65 per person and includes a glass of white, red, and sparkling wine. Visit here for reservations.
For the Musical Foodie
Looking to inaugurate 2014 with a prix fixe menu and a side of music? Look no further than Ada Street. Small plates and big beats abound at the restaurant on New Year's Eve as part of its Vinyl and Victuals celebration. Guests are invited to DJ with Ada Street's collection of vinyl records, between bites of the meat-focused ($80 per person) or vegetable-focused ($60 per person) prix fixe menus. Champagne and oyster supplements are available for additional cost. Seatings are available between 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
New Year's Rappin' Eve is on at The Dawson, where guests are invited to mosey upstairs and groove to hip hop music all night long. While dancing to DJs Genghiswon and Tony Trimm, patrons will be able to peruse a raw bar, carving station, specialty cocktails, house liquors, and a Champagne toast. There will also be an art show, because why not. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and tickets are $150 per person. Go here to purchase.
For the Oyster Fanatic
For diners who like their celebrations filled with shellfish, you can't do better than Shaw's Crab House. The restaurant knows how to throw a lavish party, decked out with balloons, white lights, poinsettias, wreaths, garland, and holiday ribbon for the grand affair. For the event, reservations will be available at the oyster bar from 5:00 p.m. until midnight, with the Fabulous Fish Heads rocking out starting at 9:00 p.m. A Champagne toast and complimentary oysters take the stage at midnight. In the main dining room, reservations are accepted from 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., featuring an a la carte menu along with specials such as Dover sole, Nantucket Cape scallops, and Alaskan king crab. Call 312-527-2722 to make reservations for this nautical bash.