Seven Lions is the restaurant equivalent of laying up on a par five. It’s like betting on David Simms in Tin Cup, or Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore, if Shooter McGavin was less of a dick. And for those of you who have never played golf, never watched two of the three greatest golf movies ever (Caddy Shack is the other), and have no idea what we are talking about, the point is that Seven Lions is a safe bet.
Safe bet because a meal here will be just fine. Nobody will be mad if you are the one that suggests it, and you won’t be mad with yourself. You’ll have an enjoyable time, there will be something for everyone, and you’ll walk away saying that was a nice night. But Seven Lions isn’t going to excite you either. Brussels sprouts and burrata, lovely, but no different than the other 879 versions you’ve had. Filet, enjoyable, but by no means memorable. Creamed spinach, why not, can’t really mess that up either. It’s like that acquaintance at work who is a “really nice guy,” but you don’t have much else to say about him, good or bad.
Seven Lions pegs itself as a “modern interpretation of the classic clubhouse restaurant,” which we agree is a pretty accurate self analysis. It’s not crusty old lawyer in a three piece suit and top hat kind of clubhouse, but you can have a business meeting here during the week. It’s location in a historic landmark building right across from the Art Institute partially gives off this vibe, so there’s no reason not to utilize it for the need.
On weekends, the crowd loosens up a bit for brunch, plus is a bit more lively at night. And owner Alpana Singh carries enough of a name to convince regular Chicagoans to spend a night eating in the Loop. She’s even present a lot of them time making sure things are running smooth and checking in on people to see if they are enjoying their meals. She seems like a nice lady, kind of like Seven Lions as a whole.
Served with a cilantro vinaigrette. We’ve got a weird thing for shisito peppers when they are an appetizer or side, and these are no different than anywhere else.
There’s nothing not to like about these fried chicken skins and fried pickles. The skins have a good crunch, and the sriracha honey mustard they make is a great blend of flavors.
This appetizer is mostly a plate of brussels sprouts heavily served over a bit of burrata and toast. Not bad, but nothing you haven’t had before.
The usual fried shrimp, calamari, smelt, and shishito peppers on a plate with a side of ranch. The midwestern child in us loves dipping fried stuff in ranch. Anything fried is really just a conduit for acceptably eating ranch anyway.
The pasta is noticeably tasteless. It’s served with braised octopus, spicy tomato sauce, english peas, and crispy shallots that at least add some flavor, but we’d stay away.
Not bad if you’re craving a steak, and feel free to go for something bigger too. The best part is the horseradish sauce they serve with the meats, which we like to use generously.
Might sound pretty boring, but the whitefish is the best thing we’ve eaten at Seven Lions. It’s perfectly cooked, and the ricotta gnocchi that comes with it is great too. A little side of acorn squash doesn’t hurt either.
We wanted to love it, but we just can’t. It’s a decent s’mores style pastry, but not real bread pudding to us.