Head to The Bristol for a Date Night

| February 18, 2009 | 1 Comment

By Kristen Holub

OK, call your babysitter. After reading this, you’ll have to carve out some alone-time* for you and your partner to check out The Bristol!

This past weekend, my husband and I were resigned to celebrating our Valentine’s Day by taking our 2 year old son to the Art Institute (which, btw, is free all month in February) and then just chilling at home. I was contemplating scrounging up some candles for an attempt at a romantic dinner after putting the little man to bed, but being pregnant and a bit low on energy, there were no guarantees. It was looking a bit bleak.

Then, my mom and dad agreed to babysit for us after their own downtown lunch date! Thank goodness for grandparents, our night was suddenly looking a lot better. I opened the laptop and started checking out local options and we decided to call The Bristol to see if they could fit us in on such short notice. As luck would have it, we squeezed in on the early seating, and everything fell into place. Neither of us had been there since The Bristol opened in September, 2008, so we were looking forward to checking it out. And the verdict? … Phenomenal!

The Bristol, located at 2152 N. Damen, is just south of the expressway. In that hip Bucktown area, street parking is at a premium, but they do have valet service which is always a plus. The decor is laid back and warm, with exposed brick and the menu on a chalkboard wall at the end. Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling, and soft lighting and candles on the tables add to the relaxed vibe. After gladly handing off our coats to their complimentary coat check, we settled in to peruse the drink menu.

The Bristol has a penchant for interesting, hand-crafted cocktails, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that many of their wines and beers are organic, made sustainably, or bio-dynamically grown.  None of this “green” philosophy is flaunted or in-your-face, but then we spoke to our server and found that it doesn’t end with the drinks either. It’s just the way they do things around The Bristol. Executive Chef, Chris Pandel and Co-Owners and Co-Managers John Ross and Philip Walters bring an understated elegance to the idea behind a sustainable restaurant. They recycle, buy their seasonal ingredients from local farms and are even starting their own farm in WI this year to grow produce specific to their needs! Pandel buys whole pigs, goats, lambs, fish and chickens, and since his aim is “no waste” but to use as much of each animal as possible, they are able to keep the prices reasonable while executing amazing fare.

For the vegetarian customers out there, they also buy “whole vegetables”…seriously though, they do try to use the entire vegetable as well. Last season they had a radish dish where the leaves and root were left intact, making for a lively presentation and a new culinary experience for many diners who might not have known that it’s all edible, and delicious.

For dinner my husband and I had the prix fix Valentine’s Day Menu. It was lovely with a trio of appetizers tastes followed by our entrees (from a choice of three…I had the seared scallops with grapefruit and celery) and then ending with a plate of five rich truffles with very intriguing flavors like pancetta, or olive oil and sea salt. The flavors of the meal were as much an experience as a dinner.

But though they were proud of the special menu, the owners are even more excited about their nightly menu which really showcases their style, ideas and speaks to what the restaurant is all about. The menu changes regularly, giving frequent diners new dishes to try, but it also affords Pandel room for creativity and choice. They usually have a few seasonal items on the menu as well.  Some of their signature dishes right now include a “bar-snack” of a savory version of Monkey Bread with dill butter and sea salt ($4), an heirloom apple salad with hazelnuts and manchego cheese ($9), the house-made raviolo with ricotta, egg yolk and brown butter ($11), and next on my list to try is the  egg sandwich served on house-made Texas toast with grilled pork belly and a bechemel sauce ($10). Click here to see the full dinner menu.

If you are up for going to brunch on the weekends, theirs is rumored as fantastic and I’m hoping someday to make it over (but an almost 2 year old who wakes at 6:30 doesn’t usually lend himself well to brunch these days)! The egg sandwich described above is on the menu, as well as their own elegant versions of staples like eggs benedict, waffles, and biscuits with gravy. Check out the full brunch menu here.

The Bristol doesn’t take reservations, but does have a comfy area upstairs where your party can wait while enjoying a cocktail. If you’re famished, they do have a selection of the bar-snacks available upstairs as well to enjoy while you relax with your beverage.

The Bristol is also offering an exclusive discount to our Chicagonista readers, so head on over! Print out this page for $10 off your purchase of $30 or more. (This offer is good through March 31st, 2009, 1 discount per visit/table, and has no cash value.)

The Bristol www.thebristolchicago.com
2152 North Damen, Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 862-5555

Hours:
Sunday   5:00 – 10:00
Monday – Thursday   5:30 – 10:30
Saturday – 5:30 – 12:00
Brunch – Saturday & Sunday  10:00 – 2:00

* if you feel guilty enjoying a delicious night out without the kiddos, you can always pick them up a little something at The Red Balloon right before you hit your dinner date!

This is an original Chicagonista article.


Kristen Holub is an artist and business owner turned stay-at-home-mom, Kristen  stays busy running around town with her son, and doing her best to keep the household eco-friendly and under control while jotting down and sharing great finds in Chicago.

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Category: Eats & Sips, Exclusive Deals

About the Author ()

Kristen Holub, mother of 2 and creator of EcoActivista.com, is an artist and business owner turned stay-at-home mom. She makes conscious and mindful decisions to keep the household eco-friendly and shares tip and tricks for others to do the same. She can always be found running around town with her kids, as she jots down and shares their great finds in the city.

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  1. Karen ostrander says:

    Sounds like a great low key place with great food. I’ll have to try it soon!

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