312 Chicago Restaurant Review – Perfect Food, Perfect Location



My friend has frequently mentioned how much she and her husband enjoyed dining at 312 Chicago before attending nearby shows. Located in the heart of the theater district it is convenient and they have been impressed both with the good food and service but have been especially pleased that they can rely on completing their meal in time for the show to begin. We, Chicago Splash Magazine reviewers, Leon and Barbara, were interested in exploring a different aspect of the restaurant - that of a celebration destination.  We wanted time to explore a variety of menu items and to enjoy the sophisticated, pleasant atmosphere for an extended time, and this worked well.  Although the restaurant is so busy at lunch and before theater performances that they need to use the second floor, we were there early on a "non-theater" night providing us the opportunity to truly enjoy our food, the ambiance, the romantic music, and easy conversation.



The menu items reflected Executive Chef Luca Corazzina’s background, training and wide ranging experiences. Born in Padova, his mother was a professional chef and passed on her expertise of Northern Italian cuisine to her son, who as a boy would help out in the kitchen, prepping or washing dishes. Corazzina offers, “My mother taught me that the basis for fine cuisine is the use of the best available ingredients. The best ingredients, treated with care, can result in perfection – that is the recipe for success.”  He easily honors special requests, being familiar with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options.  We also found the way the menu was presented to be appealing, like a clipboard and easy to read.



A very tempting $35.00 Assaggi Cena included three courses and dessert but we opted for the regular menu items that included Antipasti, Insalate e zuppe, Primi, Secondi and Contorni (sides) plus desserts.  We were impressed with the large selection of wines by the glass or quartino (more than a glass and less than a bottle) that included sparkling, white, and red from fine wineries in many locations in the country at very good prices.

Stephanie, our server, offered us tips about the food and wine and served at a pace that allowed us to enjoy our food without being rushed.  Our dining experience began with bread, three kinds that were irresistible, along with sun-dried tomato tapanade followed by a scallop surprise. It was lightly seared, tender, delicious and cut like butter. The bits of baby asparagus, potatoes and tomato offered extra flavor and texture.





Insalate E Zuppe

Leon selected the Cesare, which he found crisp and fresh. He enjoyed the anchovies and the high quality shaved Parmesan cheese and pleasant dressing.



Barbara’s Rucoletta salad had everything she likes, arugula, goat cheese, warm shitake mushrooms and balsamic vinaigrette.  It was a lovely combination of flavors and textures.



We had the chance to talk with Sous Chef Barry Friedman.  I asked about the way in which the extensive Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Earth Care Program, impacts the kitchen.  He emphasized the use of organic, local products, our salads, in particular and pointed out that, though there is some additional expense to parts of this program, its value to patrons and to the earth and its' future more than make up for this.  It is an impressive program.  In addition, 312 Chicago is on its way to becoming a certified “Green Restaurant”.



Primi

Leon’s choice was Linguine, (Rock Shrimp, Manila Clams, Asparagus, Roasted Peppers, Garlic White Wine).  The opportunity to be served a half order was very much appreciated.  In this dish he small plentiful shrimp were very flavorful and the peppers added texture, color and flavor.



Barbara tried also appreciated the half order option and selected Tortelloni (Homemade Tortelloni Stuffed with Spinach, Ricotta, Tomato, Basil, Parmesan). This was a blend of mellow flavors, rich and filling.  However, it was good to the last bite because the flavor was so pleasant, it was impossible not to take another and another bite.

 

Secondi

Another option that we appreciated was being able to share a main course.

Our choice was Ippoglosso (Roasted Alaskan Halibut, Cauliflower puree, Pancetta- we requested this be left off-, Fava Bean, Onion, Watercress).  This was simply wonderful.  Two beautiful plates arrived.  The halibut smelled heavenly.  It was lightly seared on top and again, cut like butter. Leon was sure it was the best halibut he had ever tasted.  It melted in our mouths with a lovely delicate flavor, light and pleasant.  The vegetable accompaniment contrasted the texture of the cauliflower puree with the fava beans and onions. The slight crisp of the seared top was simply delicious.



Dessert

In addition to the selection of wonderful desserts there is an amazing choice of Port, Dessert Wine, Cognac, Grappa, Armagnac, Single Malt Scotch, Rye, Small Batch Bourbon and Italian Liquors all at reasonable prices.  Leon, who appreciated Single Malt Scotches, was very pleased to find one of his favorites, Laphroaig, which he ordered and thoroughly enjoyed.



It was not easy to make the dessert selection, as everything was tempting.  The cheese tasting was the winner.  There is a tasting of three and five cheeses.  We actually chose two, which we found irresistible.  An exquisite plate arrived with Cacio di Bosco at Tartufo (Sheep Truffle Studded Pecorino Sweet and Crumbly, Tuscany) and Humbolt Fog  (Goat Semi-Soft Ash Cypress Grove), bread, grapes and walnuts.  The Cacio was pleasantly sharp and rich.  The Humbolt Fog was mellow and the flavor lasted and went perfectly with the delicious grapes and walnuts.  This was a perfect dessert, not too rich and it continued the fun of experiencing new flavors and textures.  Our evening was certainly a lovely and rewarding evening of celebration and culinary pleasure.





312 Chicago connects to Hotel Allegro and  we decided to explore this hotel that had once been the historic Bismarck Hotel built in 1926.

Although the Hotel Allegro became a Kimpton property in 1998, it was in 2008 that interior designer Martha Angus was brought on board to craft a design concept that would tell the Hotel Allegro’s modern “Be a Star” story, while maintaining a reverence for the building’s past.  We were charmed with this visit and plan to return again soon.



312 Chicago

136 North La Salle Street
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 696-2420

www.312chicago.com

Open Mon 7am-10am, 11am-3pm; Tue-Fri 7am-10am, 11am-10pm; Sat 8am-11am, 5pm-10pm; Sun 8am-3pm, 4pm-9pm

Subway: Clark/Lake

 Photos: Leon Keer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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