Friday, December 28, 2012

New Years Eve Reservations - It's Time!

When I last posted about Christmas Dining reservations, I was also looking at New Year's reservations as well.  From that post to this, from a brief glance at, I am sorry to say that many places have already filled up.  Hence I implore you to make your New Year's rezzies as fast as you can!

The hubby and I, as I mentioned in my last post, went to Yoshi's for the 2 New Year's Eve's we spent  in Chicago.  It's a great restaurant in Boystown/Lakeview East, which has awesome food in general, a special menu for New Year's Eve, a band, and dancing.

New Year's 2011 @ Yoshi's Cafe

This year, we were debating between going to Chicago again or staying put, but as time and money are not currently on our sides (thanks to our recent wedding, honeymoon, and using up all of Theron's time off!) we decided to stay in Sheboygan, Wisconsin again. Last year we stayed here and went to a restau called 'Latitude' on South Pier - which was a remarkably miserable experience. We'd never tried it before, and everyone was dour, the food was terrible, and nothing was remotely festive.  I want to help you avoid that same catastrophe, and in so much I will submit a few suggestions on New Year's Eve options in Chi and NYC.

I remember my first year living in New York City, and how many overwhelming options there were for New Year's - and on top of that how dang pricey those options were. Restaurants may charge a bit much for Christmas, but they go all out for NYE. That being said, brace yourself and your bank accounts.

First up to bat, again, is my beloved Chicago.
  • It should go without saying that I'm going to plug Yoshi's Cafe. They have two seatings, but of course you want to be there for the 2nd seating (7:30-9:30) so you can eat, dance, and celebrate through midnight into the new year! (btw they are pretty lenient about that last seating time!) The dinner is $88/pp and offers a 5 course menu.  My favorite fun features of this menu are their noodles &  Hon-Shimeji Mushroom soup in a clay teapot, and the option for half lobster and fish (though if you are a beef eater or vegetarian, sirloin and veggie-filled pumpkin are on the menu too). They will have party favors, and live music, and dancing till 1AM. Food is Japanese-French Fusion.
  • Cafe des Architects is a great option if you want a good meal and decide to saunter up to their (or another) bar after.  As their restaurant truly does close at 11 - they won't be having a special countdown to midnight. They will be having both a brunch, and a 5-course dinner which is $95/pp. They will also be having an event in their bar for $50/pp with heavy passed hors d'ouevres and a toast at midnight. For a table reservation and a 'fruit de mer' platter, the cost is upped to $125/pp. A la carte food and beverages are also available for purchase. Food is French-New American.
  • Bin 36, a much loved restaurant in the Marina City complex connected to the sexy Hotel Sax, is also offering two seatings for NYE. The second seating will include party favors, live music, and a $85/pp 4-course menu. For me, the highlights of this menu are either the lobster bisque or the exciting-sounding trio of seafood (oyster, prosecco gelee / yellow tail, lemon, black truffles, /salt cod croquette, blood orange aioli). From there you move on to choosing between scallops, steak, or ricotta ravioli.  What makes this even more fun is you get a to-go package of coffee and donuts for breakfast. Food is New American.
  • Recently earning its first Michelin star, Boka Restaurant in Lincoln Park is throwing a 6-course fete for $98/pp. There seem to be no choice substitutions here, but you will be dining on lobster and foie gras. Food is New American.
  • Carmine's on Rush street will be celebrating New Year in their always-popular see-and-be-seen sort of way. While they don't seem to have a specialized menu for NYE, you can bet it will be an awesome chance to people-watch and eat excellent Italian fair.
  • iNG restaurant in the warehouse district, helmed by Homaro Cantu of Moto fame, will be hosting a $150/pp 12-course menu *with beverage pairing*. Knowing Cantu, you can bet this dinner will be a sensory-overload sort of event, and will be sure to include his latest obsession: flavor tripping with miracle berries. There will also be a champagne toast at midnight. Food style is New America/Molecular.
  • Since I mentioned iNG, I might as well mention that Cantu's flagship Moto will be offering a 13 course tasting menu at a whopping $350/pp. This also comes with wine pairings and champagne toast included. Food style is Molecular Gastronomy.
  • 2-Michelin starred L2O in Lincoln Park is offering a 9-course tasting menu at $165/pp with the option of adding caviar, and a 10-course chef's tasting menu at $195/pp. Both menus offer an array of incredible seafood from exquisitely prepared mussels, scallops, turbot and lobster, to more exotic fair such as geoduck clams on the Chef's menu. For an elegant, beautifully prepared meal, this place is sure to please the palate.  Later seatings are filling up fast, so snag an early one while you still can. Unfortunately, one of their sister restaurants, Tru in downtown Chicago, appears to be completely booked already. Food is Seafood.

Whatever you decide to do for your New Year's in Chicago, please, I beg of you, do not go to the events on Navy Pier. We made that mistake our first year, and quickly fled up to Yoshi's - where we were saved!

Now for a round up in, you guessed it, New York City!

Oddly, it seemed almost every New Year's I spent living in NYC I would somehow wind up at the Algonquin Hotel in Midtown, famed for Dorothy Parker's 'round table' discussions with other literary critics. The first time I was so excited! I bought my date and I tons of champange, partook of the simple but good appetizers they had for free, and reveled in being in one of my favorite poet's old digs.  Let's see, though, what I can still dig up for you guys.

  • I might as well stick with consistency and note that La Cerveceria in the East Village is at it again, offering a 4 hour open bar, and 4 course dinner for $195/pp from 8PM - midnight. I imagine this place getting pretty packed, as $200 is the standard in the city for almost all NYC-NYE parties. Food type is Peruvian. 
  • Kittichai in SoHo is bound to be a destination, offering two seatings, the second of which offers 6 courses for $125/pp with an additional $40 wine pairing. Highlights are sure to be the steamed oysters, hot and sour soup, foie gras, and of course, the duck. After dinner, the party continues in the 'Thom Bar' - a 60's themed mezzanine lounge. Food style is Thai.
  • Head back up to midtown, to Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne, which is offering a 5-course menu for $195/pp with an optional $95 wine pairing. There will be a champagne toast at midnight. Menu highlights include a lobster medallion, foie gras torchon, and of course turbot. There will also be music and dancing. Food type is New American.
  • Dos Caminos is basically synonymous with high-end Mexican food in NYC, and they are throwing a fiesta for NYE. All locations will have a la carte from 5pm-8:30. The party really starts at 8:30, when an $89 minimum is in effect.  There will be a live DJ to keep the party rocking.
  • Speaking of rocking parties, I for once cannot leave out Sushi Samba. Both NYC locations will be following the Brazilian tradition of white decorations and attire for New Year's, with DJ's spinning all night, Samba dancers to entertain you, and a live broadcast of the ball drop. They will be serving their normal menu, though a $30 surcharge will apply if you arrive at or after 10PM. Food style is Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian Fusion.

Of course there are *many* other restaurants that will be open, along with countless clubs in the clubbing districts. Find the party that's right for you!  You may even decide to drop by the Algonquin, if you happen to be near Midtown, and if you do, say Hi for me.

As for my hubby and I, since we decided to stay local again this year, we will be heading over to Cucina in Kohler.  They're doing a $55/pp prix fixe along with their normal menu. While they close at 11, they have truly delicious food and prosecco. After dinner we will head over to the Horse & Plow, a fairly low-key bar and restau in The America Club to celebrate the last hours of 2012. Bring it on, 2013!!

What are your plans? Please feel free to share with our readers!

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!


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