Remember when you had that spacious second lakefront home that you could visit during the summerdining on seafood and kicking back on those lazy afternoons?
Yeah … me neither.
However, the Fairmont Chicago has brought the summer escape inside with The Lake House at Fairmont Chicago (200 N. Columbus Dr.; www.fairmontchicago.com/the-lake-house/&. The hotel has transformed its first-floor area into a nautical experience complete with Instagram-worthy accents (from life preservers to sand castles), games and, of course, culinary offerings.
And regarding said items, The Lake House has an almost exhaustive list of drinks to try. There are many wines, including a few that are listed under "Interesting Whites" and "Interesting Reds." However, many other spirits (ranging from tequila to cognac) are there as well. And then there are refreshing summer cocktails such as the Pear Martini, Pineapple Margarita (absolutely delightful) and the bourbon-forward Derby Bird. (Be warned, however: Most of the cocktails are at least $20 each.)
The bites are certainly enticing. My friend and I went for one of the specialties: the Backyard BBQ for Two (at, yes, $120). It's a platter bursting with various meats and sides. (The potato salad is kick-ass and the brisket is best I've had in a while.) However, if that's not your bag, other menu items include lobster rolls, scallion hush puppies, Jamaican spiced wings, a gumbo shrimp po'boy and much more. And, for dessert, there's a really indulgent milkshake that has a chocolate-chip cookie and brownie as garnishes.
So try The Lake House. It may feel a little unorthodox as hotel guests waltz by you as they enter or exitbut you can almost hear the seagulls overhead.
The Hampton Social
The River North location of The Hampton Social (353 W. Hubbard St.; www.thehamptonsocial.com/chicago-river-north&; is another nautical-themed spot, but it has been around a bit longersince 2015.
The Hampton Social flagship location and first restaurant in the group has many things in its favor, including a "Rose All Day lounge," a lively bar, main dining area and private dining spaces, and The Bassment (a lower-level live music space).
A new season has brought about intriguing mostly coastal-inspired culinary offerings as this restaurant brings the experience of being in The Hamptons to the Midwest. My dining companion and I were thoroughly impressed, overall, with our dishesincluding the lobster-and-brie dip served with pitas (a nice appetizer, even with relatively few lobster bites) and the tuna tartare.
This wouldn't be a coastal spot without cold items, and there are plenty on hand, such as the Sparkling Seafood Tower (with sparking rose), shrimp cocktail, salmon poke, New England clam chowder, and the shrimp-and-octopus ceviche.
Interestingly, there are also pizzas here. Not all will make you think of a seaside excursion, but the South Hampton pie (with red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, basil and cheese) was deliciouseven if the crust was a bit more burned than we wanted.
The summer pesto padiatoriwith a nice contrast in textures, as it features roasted tomato, charred corn, pistachios and pesto (with optional chicken or shrimp)was a delight. However, there's an intriguing mix of entrees, including balsamic-glazed skirt steak, fish and chips, lobster roll, Mediterranean lamb chops, a Smash Burger, shrimp tacos, honey-glazed salmon and more.
Drinks (with nautical names, naturally) were on handand offered taste and variety. I thoroughly enjoyed the Honey Cove (with tea-infused bourbon, giffard apricot, lemon and honey) while my friend loved The Getaway (blanco tequila, lemongrass, pink peppercorn and citrus). Some of the other libations include Ocean Eyes, Summer in the East End and I Glitterally Can't (which comes with glitter balls). Note: Cocktails can be ordered by the glass or the large sea shell (which accommodates more than one personusually).
By the way, this site will host the "Pink Party" on Sunday, June 12, 12-6 p.m. There will be a garden oasis experiential pop-up, roses from all over the world, culinary offers and a special live DJ set with Brody Jenner + Devin Lucien. Tickets start at $75 each; visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-pink-party-hosted-by-the-hampton-social-chicago-il-tickets-331272724637?aff=WebsiteChi22.
During Pride Month, for each New Belgium beer sold, New Belgium and Bottleneck Management (at Old Town Pour House locations, Sweetwater and South Branch) will donate a total of $2 to support communities that promote equity and inclusion for ALL. Donations will be made to GLAAD.
Easy Bar in Ukrainian Village will team up with Seattle Cider Company and Bell's Brewery to support The Trevor Project for Pride Month. Throughout the month of June, a portion of proceeds from any Seattle Cider or Bell's product purchased will be donated to the organization.
Owner Jodi Fyfe and Partner/Chief Culinary Officer Devon Quinn, along with Executive Chef Miles Schaefer, announced the reopening of Eden, 2734 W. Roscoe St. The full buildout will offer breakfast with a cafe and lunch service beginning Monday, June 6, with dinner service starting Wed., June 22. See edeninchicago.com .
In anticipation of the James Beard Foundation Awards coming back to Chicago on June 11-13, Choose Chicago has partnered partnered with Here Here Market to sell the Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni Collection box.
The boxes are curated selections of products from some of Chicago's all-star chefs. The "Sauce, Spice, & Everything Nice Box" ($37) contains items from This Little Goat, Monteverde, GT Fish & Oyster and Mott St.; the "Deluxe" box ($73) has items from This Little Goat, Monteverde, GT Fish & Oyster, Mott St., Luella's Southern Popcorn and mixologist Charles Joly.