The exit row on an airplane, a flat white, or guac on your burrito. These are the luxurious things in life that you feel bad always ponying up for, but are totally worth it when you do. Add Gilt Bar to the list. Sure, it’s sceney, but every now and then, it feels good.
While we waited for our table at the bar on the most recent trip, a middle aged man in a shiny suit insisted on calling every women around "Becky." So yes, you'll get your fair share of *ssholes in here. Pro tip for the fellas: nobody thinks this is cute. But Gilt Bar is (slightly) off the main drag, and draws a (slightly) older and (slightly) more sedate crowd than the rest of River North. The majority of the restaurant is filled with a LOT of dates - first round Bumble dates, married couples of twenty years dates, and passive aggressive couples in the corner clearly arguing about his inability to commit dates.
It draws romance for one of two reasons: 1. The lighting makes you feel like you stepped onto the set of a Rihanna music video, which is why Gilt Bar is best for holing up with your boo on a blustery winter night (there's a small patio for when it's nice out). 2. Gilt Bar walks a very fine line between decadent and opulent, and it walks it well. Nothing is over the top, but everything is simple, well done, and luxurious at the same time.
Once your eyes adjust to the lack of light, you’ll see that the menu is, surprisingly, reasonably priced. It’s possible for you to escape with a bill under $100, although cocktails can get pricy. The menu isn't huge, and it won’t help you sure up that summer bod anytime soon. The food is what we like to call “Chicago Luxe,” meaning it has a lot of butter, salt, and meat.
Don’t go with your parents because they’ll need a flashlight. Don’t go with a coworker or you’re asking for an awkward Monday. Do go for a girls night out. Do go for a date. And definitely go when you’re in the mood to feel like the king or queen of the castle for a night.
Perfect and simple, rich and flavorful, and with a cracked egg on top. We’re not usually one for tartares, but this is a good one.
A refreshing and light combination that feels good next to all of the butter you’re about to put away. Manchego and hazelnuts are a welcome nutty addition to the acidity of the vinaigrette.
In the words of Senator Clay Davis, sh***t. We find it difficult to be impressed by mashed potatoes, but these are the best we’ve ever had. The thick and buttery potatoes sit in a pool of rich and salty chicken jus.
A small portion of hand-cut noodles with truffle and pecorino. Generally unimpressive and skippable.
Pork belly conjures up images of hunks of ultra-fatty bacon-like meat that sometimes has the texture of jelly. This has more of a short rib consistency than the aforementioned meat jelly. It’s good and the flavors are strong.
Mussels in a lemon vermouth broth with a large baguette. We liked them, but we wouldn’t order them again.
Good steaks are world-bending, and bad steaks are morally offensive, and for that reason alone we rarely order steak outside of a renowned steakhouse - go ahead, call us steak snobs. We were initially hesitant when the waiter tried to steer us towards the ribeye. But he insisted that their ribeye was the inspiration behind sister restaurant and next-door neighbor, Bavette’s. We went for it, and it was incredible. You won’t regret it either.
The most indulgent chocolate pie with a massive dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Every time we go to Gilt Bar, we go with the intention of trying different desserts. But every godd*mn time we end up ordering the chocolate pie. Do it.