A touch of cabin fever?
Need a change of scene?
A beautiful Loop restaurant, Aria, can be accessed by most of Chicagoans who take pubic transport without ever getting cold.
So too can visitors staying in any number of Loop hotels.
The wonderful Illinois Pedway connects Loop CTA stops with a labyrinthian entrée to the Fairmont Hotel on Columbus Drive where Aria is located.
The pedway leads you to Aria’s décor, sushi and other menu items that focus on seasonal fare with an Asian flourish.
The big news is that Aria has a new chef—technically the Executive Sous-Chef—James Phillips, who is bursting with enthusiasm about the new menu changes in the works. He’s talking about pairing pan-roasted scallops with kimchi and brown rice. His imprimatur will include a new Wisconsin cheddar soup featuring Great Lakes Porter Beer that will be poured tableside. Don’t let the appetizer name “Steak and Eggs” let you think about breakfast. This is going to be a new take on Chicago beef tartare with a sunny side up egg and brioche toast and a sophisticated gardiniera. That and more--in a fortnight you can be one of the first to try out these menu items.
There are some menu staples that will remain and that are recommendations to sample.
First and foremost, think of Aria as a beautiful setting for sushi and sashimi. The portions are generous. The preparations are careful.
The lime zest infused calamari with chili and cilantro is also a top pick, even if you don’t think you are a calamari fan.
The pistachio grouper definitely meets the bar of food you'd never take the time to cook at home. Its many ingredients combine most pleasantly.
Dessert? Yes, but be warned-- the portions are enormous. Splitting a dessert will work for even the healthiest appetites.
The Fairmont Hotel where Aria is located is offering a gourmet four-course dinner at Aria for $75 per person. Their Valentines Special also can include booking a hotel room upstairs at a special Valentine’s Day rate.
Put cabin fever behind you.
Aria in the Fairmont Hotel
200 North Columbus Avenue, Chicago
312 444 9494
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Photos: Peter Kachergis unless otherwise indicated