New Year's Eve Dining and Drinking Guide 2016
New Year's Eve is not only one of the craziest holidays of the year, right up there with St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo, but it's one of the most popular nights for dining and drinking, usually with reckless abandon. Celebrators are out in full-force this year, looking to end 2016 on a high note and beckon the new year in the best way possible. Here's where to make that happen in Chicago this year:
tesori: It’s nice to have a New Year’s Eve celebration downtown that won’t completely break the bank. Hence, tesori. The venerable Italian restaurant is featuring an affordable prix fixe by chef Carlos Ysaguirre for $65 per person. It all starts with a glass of Prosecco for guests upon arrival, followed by dishes like salumi and frittata, roast suckling pig with herb gnocchi, choice between chestnut Parmigiano polenta and pancetta-braised winter greens and for dessert, chocolate-chestnut cake. A wine package is available for another $35 per person.
Bernie’s Lunch & Supper: This River North spot is keeping things refreshingly concise and low-cost for New Year’s Eve, with a 12-item a la carte menu by chef Ryan Sand. Options include lobster lasagna, foraged mushroom risotto with Parmesan-truffle mousse, double-cut wood-roasted pork chop and 36-hour short ribs with crispy sweet potatoes and five-spice bordelaise. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.
The Kitchen Bistro: Dishes are impressively fresh and elegant at The Kitchen Bistro, which is cooking up a four-course prix fixe for the occasion. Guests can to choose items for each course, including smoked sturgeon, roasted hazelnut salad, scallops, housemade chittara, roasted squash risotto, snapper or beef tenderloin. Chocolate mousse and honey chiffon cake are the dessert selections. Reservations are available between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for $65 or between 7:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. for $75. Wine pairings are an additional $45. Reservations can be made by calling The Kitchen Bistro.
ENO: There’s really no better place to celebrate New Year’s Eve than a Champagne and wine bar. Aptly, ENO is toasting to the holiday by featuring a different sparkling wine every hour on December 31 beginning at 5:00 p.m. Priced at $8 per half glass, bubbly includes NV Allan Scott ‘Cecilia’ Brut New Zealand; 2013 Tishbi Golan Heights Israel; Stony Brook Vineyards Franschhoek South Africa; Gramona Cava Penedes Spain; and 2013 Les Capriades Pet-Sec Mont-Louis France.
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap: Keep things cool and casual with a New Year’s fete at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap. While the River North classic will feature special reserve large-format beers like La Trappe Quad and North Coast La Merie, the bar/restaurant will also be slinging its famed cocktails and wings, with no expensive packages or entry fees. Food specials include apricot sriracha wings, an Italian-inspired mac & cheese with Italian sausage and tomato sauce and a burger with cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, Boursin, cornichons, Bearnaise aioli and a brioche bun.
Ema: New Year’s Eve in Chicago adopts a Mediterranean accent at Ema, where acclaimed chef CJ Jacobson is featuring a four-course tasting for the holiday. Items include winter squash risotto with spicy hummus, veal short ribs with chickpea and pumpkin tagine, diver scallops and stracciatella with charred Spanish chorizo. The cost is $85 per person, which includes a Champagne toast at midnight and party favors for the celebration. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling Ema.
Acadia: One of the funnest themes for the holiday this year can be found at Acadia, where the five-year old South Loop restaurant is featuring an event inspired by Cirque de Soleil’s “Earth and Ocean.” Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the dinner portion of the party consists of a six-courser for $175 or an eight-courser at 9:00 p.m. for $275. The real revelry begins at 11:30 p.m., when the doors to the after-party open and feature lavish additions like a 20-piece marching bands, a three-tiered stage and contortionists. Attendees to the party will have access to cocktails, Champagne, beer and a food buffet, all for just $50 per person ($25 for members of the restaurant industry). Snag your tickets here: https://acadiachicago.tocktix.com
Honey’s: This West Loop newcomer is celebrating its first New Year’s in style, with a six-course tasting menu by executive chef/partner Charles Welch. Considering Honey’s was one of the most acclaimed restaurants to open this year, it’s certain to be a fitting and delicious finale for 2016. Dishes in the main dining room include lobster terrine, foie gras torchon, cotechino tortellini, turbot a la blanquette, seared and braised lamb and smoked black tea cake with ganache, black sesame tuile and coconut. The menu costs $125 per person, plus $85 for optional wine pairings. From 10:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., the bar area will feature a $100/person beverage package of two cocktails, Champagne, beers and a well open bar. Reservations can be made via Open Table or calling Honey’s.
312 Chicago: With vegetable, fish and meat options for each of the four courses on New Year’s Eve, 312 Chicago is the ultimate crowd-pleaser for just about everyone. Chef Luca Corazzina is featuring his “Menu di Capo D’Anno,” a prix fixe that includes options like spinach souffle, jumbo lump crab meat ravioli, and roasted herb-crusted rack of lamb. The cost is $75 per person, plus $35 for optional wine pairings.
- Matt Kirouac