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SAVOR The Atwood at The Alise, Davanti Enoteca
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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The Atwood at The Alise

The Burnham Hotel has undergone many changes recently—with the biggest being that it's not known by that name anymore, as it's now The Alise Chicago ( a Staypineapple Hotel ).

However, The Atwood ( the restaurant within the hotel at 1 W. Washington St.; ) has undergone its own significant alteration, thanks to the addition of Chef David Fingerman. Decor-wise, The Atwood has long gotten rid of the dark woods and colors in favor of a more contemporary, airy feel. And, regarding cuisine, Fingerman ( who's worked with Graham Elliot ) has done the hotel proud, although there are a couple kinks.

Starting with drinks, The Atwood continues its tradition of delightful drinks. ( Also, the variety is impressive, as their are six signature cocktails as well as 25 classic ones—although one should be advised that they're $14 each. ) The pisco sour I had was quite good, as was my friend's Conference Call, which combines bourbon, cynar, housemade grenadine, lemon and cava.

As for appetizers, be sure to pick the burrata toast, which comes with fennel, orange and Fresno chiles—which all elevate it over similar dishes at other spots. The spoonbread was, surprisingly, hit-and-miss; we both enjoyed the crispy top layer, but found the dish to be slightly dry. ( Any restaurant that makes moist cornbread or items of its ilk will be instantly elevated to my personal hall of fame. )

However, the entrees were simply outstanding. The pan-seared halibut was tasty ( as well as the accompanying gnocchi ) while the braised pork belly was as good as any I've had. Dessert was the least impressive item: a baked Alaska that had a bit too much char for me—although my palate is probably more delicate than most.

Service was solid, overall, although it was initially lax. ( It took about 10 minutes to get water and a menu. ) I'm confident it'll catch up to the food.

Davanti Enoteca

Davanti Enoteca ( various locations; ) is an Italian restaurant that offers some exemplary contemporary dishes.

Once again, a restaurant brings it with the appetizers—this time, it's Davanti's ricotta vasi, which combines Tuscan toast, ricotta and honeycomb. As for the entree, we both had the impressive Davanti burger, which comes with bacon jam, cheese curd, arugula and roasted garlic aioli. However, there are many pasta dishes and pizzas from which to choose—and I plan to try them shortly.

There was one problem with our location ( River North )—neither I nor my dining companion could find it initially. It's at 30 E. Hubbard St., and Chicago's grid system should've made finding it a breeze; however, it's actually WEST of spots such as Shaw's Crab House ( 21 E. Hubbard St. ), and is on the corner of Hubbard and State streets. Maybe indulging at the Glazed & Infused in the restaurant will help you feel better after the unintentional exercise.

Note: Restaurant/bar profiles are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.

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