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SAVOR: Commons Club at Virgin Hotels
DISH: SAVOR Weekly Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-05-13

This article shared 3484 times since Wed May 13, 2015
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I recently visited Virgin Hotels ( 203 N. Wabash Ave.; virginhotels.com ), which recently opened in the Loop. I plan on investigating this spot further, but the initial impression is that it's a combination of sophistication and whimsy.

I also dined at the Commons Club, which sounds like it could be everyone or ( in a twist of irony ) for a very few. Fortunately, it is definitely the former at a spot that somehow manages to look retro and futuristic simultaneously. The Shag Room alone is, as they say, worth the price of admission; it's an area with curved couches surrounding a huge ottoman. ( Bosses, think about holding office meetings here. ) There's also a chair at one of the dining-room tables that basically looks like half a birdcage on legs—very fun.

Thankfully, the food was just as fun during the visit. The crispy shrimp roll ( with bouillabaisse sauce ) was tasty and has a nice kick, while the lobster flatbread was topped with Maine lobster, caviar ( three types ), creme fraiche and arugula. The all-natural eight-ounce burger ( nicely cooked ) came with bacon and all the trimmings—plus a choice of cheddar blue, chipotle cheddar or baby Swiss cheese.

The shortrib sandwich ( with horseradish ) was topped with massive onion rings, while the chips 'n' dip ( a British dish that should be a surprise to no one ) was an appetizer consisting of plantain chips with jalapeno, lime and cilantro ( which was TOTALLY unexpected ). The dining experience concluded with sticky toffee pudding that was the second-best I've ever had. ( Sorry, but I still dream about the sticky-toffee concoction I had last year at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in Las Vegas. )

However, there's more at Virgin than the Commons, which also offers free drinks to hotel guests at 6-7 p.m. Two Zero Three ( named after the address ) transforms from a neighborhood coffee shop during the day to a more sophisticated wine bar at night. Also, there's Miss Ricky's, a street-level restaurant, has a name that acknowledges the many times Virgin founder Richard Branson has donned drag and how his mother, Eve, calls him "Ricky."

By the way, be sure to check out the rooftop bar Cerise. ( Guess which color is prominent. ) There are all sorts of unique decorative items as well as spacious couches ( and matching pillows ) as patrons can get a unique perspective from the 26th floor.


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