Last visit 2/22/09
Sitting in a prime location on South Michigan Avenue, right across from Millennium Park, The Gage is a welcome addition to the Loop dining scene. Open for about a year, Chicago Magazine just featured it as one of the top 21 new restaurants in Chicago and *gasp* I haven't tried any of them yet so I figured when Glenn (Bwana_Brown) came to town that it was time to remedy that! So Dee (deecat), my husband and I met up with Glenn for lunch on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
The name comes from the space's former occupant, the Gage Bros. & Co., a millinery firm. Unfortunately subsequent tenants included an athletic shoe store and a Burger King so the interior, while aesthetically pleasing with it's tin roof, tiled walls and wood floors, is not original. The interior holds 300 people and it looks like there is a space for private parties downstairs. There's also a small al fresco dining area overlooking Millennium Park.
Favorite Dish: I was going to order the ribeye sandwich until I heard the special, an open faced pork shoulder sandwich with a horse radish sauce served with fries. Although a bit of it was tough, the tender portions were very good. David ordered the fish and chips which came wrapped in a newspaper.
On my 2nd visit I took advantage of the special menu for Restaurant Week, $22 for 3 courses. The 24 hour roasted veal special was flavorful but a really small portion. The caesar salad was just that, a caesar salad. The deconstructed root beer float was interesting, cake with root beer flavored ice cream and sauce. My friend's dessert was better though, the brown sugar souffle.
The prices at The Gage are a little on the high side due to it's high rent location no doubt. While the food is good, it's not great making the prices a little hard to swallow.
The Gage is advertised as "Chicago's first and only gastro tavern" I had eaten lunch here this year with a group of Vt members, and this time, Allan and I ate here for a special DINNER CELEBRATION for our 45th wedding anniversary. I must say, that it has a whole different "vibe" in the evening....more like a great dinner club rather than a "gastro tavern". The people at our hotel, The Fairmont, made the reservations for us on a moment's notice, and we had no trouble at all being seated at 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday evening. We were first seated in room that was filled with noise. We asked to be reseated, and we were and with a smile. The second seating was just lovely in a booth toward the back. Our waitress was quite unique...very urban looking but quite "laid back" in personality. She did a marvelous job explaining the menu and precisely what ingredients went into each dish.
Chef, Dirk Flanigan does such an excellent job using the finest and freshest ingredients, mostly organic.
I was not too hungry, but Allan was starving so we skipped appetizers and went straight to the meal.
Favorite Dish: Allan ordered the special for that evening which was a Monk fish in a delicious sauce surrounded by fresh organic vegetables. The portion was not large at all, but it was oh, so delicious. Allan gave me a taste, and it melted in my mouth, and I found myself wanting more.
I ordered a special salad made with mixed organic lettuces, grapes, nuts, and blue cheese. It was quite delicious with its subtle salad dressing that added to the crisp, clean taste.
We decided to have a special dessert and coffee. It, too, was a very small portion, but outstanding. It was composed of an individual round pound cake, freshly whipped cream, and chocolate. The coffees were strong, hot, and ever so good.
It was a delightful evening in this rather new restaurant across from Millennium Park.
I had either stayed at or passed through Chicago's O'Hare Airport a number of times and also drove past the outskirts of the city in October, 2007 while on my 4500-km marathon drive from Canada's Atlantic coast to Regina, Saskatchewan. As a result of VT-member Dabs giving me 'stick' about a proper visit, I let her know I would be in town a couple of weeks before I arrived on this trip! She immediately rose to the challenge and invited me and Deecat (among others) to a Sunday lunch - it was great to know that I would finally get to meet these two world-renowned members, especially since I don't get to see many VTers in the wilds of either New Brunswick or Saskatchewan!
We settled on The Gage Restaurant, just across Michigan Avenue from Millenium Park. It is located in a group of three buildings dating from 1898 named after the northern-most and tallest Gage Brothers building (hat wholesalers) shown in the 4th photo. The buildings exemplify two different Chicago architectural designs of that period - the expensive white terracotta style and the cheaper but less elegant red brick design.
Favorite Dish: Nevermind the styles, we were here to eat (along with Dabs' husband David) so were soon ushered to our table in the centre of the interior part of The Gage Restaurant. I always like something that sounds different, so decided that I would try their Fire-Roasted Chicken with Blue Cheese, Basil and Frank's Hot Sauce on Cuban bread ($12) washed down with a cold Heineken beer (4th photo)! It was a delicious meal and I also enjoyed talking to the ladies and David about a variety of subjects. For a total price of $20 it was great mini-VT meet!! Not to mention that Deecat presented me with an excellent large-sized hardcover book titled 'Chicago - A Photographic Celebration' that highlights all the sights I took in on this visit. We then worked the meal off with a good stroll around to several places that I had not yet visited!
The Gage offers upscale bar food in an unbeatable location on Michigan Avenue in the Loop, right across the street from Millennium Park. Location, location, and location are three of the best things about the Gage! That said, the Gage is certainly a welcome addition to the dining scene in the Loop. My friend Gerald said that after the closing (or whatever) of The Berghoff he's been looking for a good regular place for mid-day meals in easy walking distance of State Street Shopping, and the Gage certainly fits the bill. High volume, with moderately high volume (noise) levels as well, but a well trained professional keeps things moving along.
I ordered the Lamb Vindaloo - perfectly acceptable. Interestingly, the waiter wanted to check with me whether I knew it was a "hot & spicy" dish. Well, "hot & spicy" are relative terms, and the Lamb Vindaloo at the Gage would certainly pass muster up on Devon Street, but it was hearty and filling. Hey, it's a bar, not an Indian Restaurant. Prices are a little high, but this isn't Applebee's, and who's complaining about that?
I like that they have a good beer selection, including about 8 interesting choices on tap (including a Belgian ale). Oh, and the Gage is open late, seven days a week. Maybe I'll stop in after a Symphony concert some time!
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