Land and Sea Dept is a unique company that specializes in design and conceptualization in Chicago. They’re the brains behind all or part of Longman & Eagle, Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Lost Lake (a tiki bar and Chinese takeout), and, more recently, The Game Room and the Cherry Circle Room at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
And at least part of these brains is my brother, Robert. I won’t go into how proud of him I am, other than to see is a bunch of proud.
In August, my dad and I drove to Chicago for a weekend celebrating my dad’s 75th birthday. Robert had the idea to take him to a Cubs/Braves game at Wrigley, and I thought it was a great idea. Plus, we got to spend time with his wife, Susan, and their almost obnoxiously cute son, Cy. Our first night in town, though, was Robert and Susan’s anniversary, so we stayed downtown at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, right on Michigan Avenue, across from Grant Park. It’s an old private club that was renovated and made into a hotel. Trust me… gorgeous! No one would spend the money to have the intricate work done that this hotel has. I had a smaller room, but it was still very comfortable, with a great shower and cool robes.
The Game Room is just that… pool tables, bocci ball, shuffleboard tables. And a great bar with a small kitchen for food. We tried some fried oysters and fried pickles at the bar, while having house-bottled Manhattans.
While we were having an early afternoon drink in the Game Room, Robert made arrangements for dinner next door, the the Cherry Circle Room supper club. This place is gorgeous, with solid cherry woodwork for the back bar (my brother’s handiwork), and a great, original bar, with leather booths, table side cocktail and carving service and just a great feel.
Yeah, my little brother did that.
While we toured the building, we went to the 13th floor, to Cindy’s, a bar on the roof overlooking the park and the lake. I don’t know how the food is, though it looked great, but the view just can’t be beat!
Dinner started with Dad and me sitting at the bar. The bar staff was great, and I got to talk whiskey with Paul McGee, the man behind the drink side of Land and Sea Dept. The Cherry Circle Room has a supper club throwback feel, and they’re even working on a speakeasy=type entrance in the alley leading to the restaurant.
Dinner started with grille octopus, which I wasn’t sure I was looking forward to trying. It was, however, really great! If you get to CCR, have this on your list to try. That was followed with something maybe even better: Lobster and sea urchin risotto. Served in the sea urchin. How cool is that? Not as cool as the dish is delicious!
After our starters, the staff asked us to move to a booth so we could experience the rest of dinner at a table. The wine steward recommended a great wine, served in appropriate wine glasses, and we ordered a wet-aged axe handle ribeye, bit enough for more than 2 people, but we made due. We also had carrots with burrata… wow, it was great. The table side service was well done, and really enjoyable to see this great piece of prime beef brought out and carved for us. The wine was great, and we really enjoyed the whole meal. On top of that, it was great seeing my dad soak up the great service. It was really special watching him, knowing that the staff had their game faces on, and were making sure that Robert’s dad was treated special.
After dinner, the manager even escorted us back up to Cindy’s, to enjoy the view at night. We were a bit older (a lot) than the crowd there, so we didn’t stay long, but it was something to see. And to see the staff at CCR work, it was obvious that they think well of my brother. You know what? I do, too, even with out the great restaurants. But I like the restaurants, too!
The next morning, we had tokens in the rooms for free coffee in the Milk Room, which is about to open as a small bar (by Land and Sea) which will offer rare liquor cocktails, like pre-embargo run from Cuba for mojitos, or Pappy Van Winkle Old Fashioneds. If you want a $100 cocktail, this is the place to go… but it would be cool to try one or two! We sat in the gorgeous lobby with coffee and pastries, then headed out to Logan Square, to start phase 2 of our Chicago weekend.
Stay tuned for more on my Chicago trip (which included a quick raid of the whiskey stock at L&E for a tasting!)