photo: courtesy the peninsula chicago

The charming dining room at The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago 

The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago 108 E Superior., 312-337-2888. Contemporary.

(four stars)


Don’t let the modest name fool you: The Lobby is a real restaurant, and it is one of the best in Chicago.

Lee Wolen’s à la carte offerings are intelligent, satisfying, and delicious, synthesizing divergent textures and flavors, as in a crunchy-smooth almond-crusted foie gras torchon that contains a potent grapefruit sauce. The crispy skin of a pan-roasted California sturgeon tops an impossibly delicate fish served with roasted onions, calamari, and a breathtaking lemon curd.

The airy fifth-floor room reflects the food’s mix of modernity and hominess with weird details such as a string duo playing familiar pop songs from a balcony. Prompt and charming servers know how to take care of diners—and keep bringing extras galore.

Dishes We Liked: Roasted beet salad with ricotta, spelt, and pistachios ($14); ricotta gnocchi with spring peas and Serrano ham ($16); roasted Colorado lamb loin with merguez, chickpeas, eggplant, and feta ($37); whole roasted chicken for two with morels, marbled potatoes, and ramps ($54); passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate ice cream ($16)

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. The review appears in the September issue, on newsstands now.