Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-06-20
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Sugar&Spice: City Winery
by Meghan Streit

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

When I first heard about City Winery—a West Loop spot that is at once a working winery, 300-seat concert venue and full restaurant—I was a bit skeptical. I'm generally a believer that you can't be all things to all people, and so I figured City Winery would excel at one of its goals, but be lackluster in the other departments. Boy, was I wrong (and pleasantly surprised!).

I had my first full City Winery experience in November when one of my favorite artists, Rachael Yamagata, played at the venue. Instead of standing on tired tiptoes to see the stage, I was seated comfortably in a chair and could hear every beautiful word. Glasses of robust Sonoma zinfandel replaced the watery overpriced beer I'd normally be forced to drink at a concert. Somewhere around Yamagata's third song, as I stuffed myself with delicious Burrata cheese spread on crusty toasted bread, a waitress appeared quietly to set down a fresh glass of wine in front of me, and I thought to myself, "This place is a freaking urban amusement park for adults!"

I had seen Yamagata perform several times before, and I initially thought I'd miss the grit of being at a rock concert. Nope. As it turns out, standing in a long line and then missing your favorite song to pay $9 for a crappy beer actually sucks. Eating delicious food and drinking high-quality and reasonably priced wine while you listen to your favorite artist is such a superior concert experience. Obviously, Chicagoans aged 30 and above are going to love this place. But, you don't have to have wrinkles to enjoy City Winery. I was sat next to two University of Chicago students at the Yamagata show, and they seemed to enjoy the experience as much as I did.

Chicago's City Winery is the second location. There's also one in New York, and from what I've read, the Chicago location is bigger and better. I haven't been to the Big Apple location, but the Second City version is positively visually spectacular. Thirty-foot ceilings, walls lined with wine bottles and huge stainless-steel wine vats behind the bar make the space stunning. Exposed brick, colorful artwork and a fireplace in the middle of the main dining room make it cozy.

You can dine at City Winery any day of the week, and you should. But, if you opt to have dinner and see a show, then you are in for a real treat, albeit a pricy one. Depending on your appetite for lovingly crafted glasses of wine, you can easily drop $200 on a meal for two. If you're seeing a show, it's recommended to arrive about an hour early if you'd like to have dinner. The idea is that you'll be finishing up your meal, perhaps lingering over dessert, as the show gets underway.

Seating is tight because, hey, you're getting a fine dining experience in a concert venue. I like my space, so I was a teensy bit irritated at first, but I was happy to have a chair at all, and my fiancée and I ended up chatting with our tablemates and had a great time.

After you're settled with a glass of wine—there are nearly 100 to choose from, but I'd recommend sampling one of City Winery's own varietals that are "on tap"—then it's time to dig into the menu. The concert venue menu is a smaller version of the restaurant's main menu. You'll find a nice selection of small plates that are well thought out and made with fresh and just downright tasty ingredients. Smaller items average about $6 a pop, and the heartier dishes cost around $12 each. Four to five dishes will satisfy—but not stuff—a party of two. But so many sound tempting, so I wouldn't blame you for ordering more than that.

I have a mid-level obsession with City Winery's Burrata, as I discussed in my last column ( ). The cheese itself is impossibly soft and creamy, but what makes it so memorable is the bread it's served with. The crusty Italian bread is slathered with a generous dose of olive oil, dusted with herbs and then toasted to perfection. It's the perfect start to a lovely meal. Other lighter and highly sharable plates include white bean and garlic dip served with pita and an assortment of arancini balls (fried risotto) that I'm dying to try.

I also tried the salame flatbread, which was basically to die for. The light and crispy crust was phenomenal, and the sopressa and smoked mozzarella worked in perfect harmony as toppings. This pizza pairs nicely with City Winery's slightly spicy house zinfandel.

Among the more entrée-like offerings is a braised short rib with creamy rosemary polenta. In a culinary world now saturated with braised short ribs, this one definitely stands out. The meat was infused with so much flavor and was ridiculously tender. The polenta makes a perfect companion, and a dollop of tomato compote gives the dish a little extra zing. If you want to sneak a vegetable into your meal, the cauliflower gratin is a delightful way to do it. The cauliflower is baked beneath a gooey and piping-hot layer of Gruyere, Mornay sauce and toasted breadcrumbs (which perhaps disqualifies it as a vegetable, but who the heck cares?). The portion was quite small, and when Gruyere is involved, I don't like to share, so next time I'll order my own cauliflower gratin.

Not that I needed any more calories at this point, but midway through the concert, dizzy with the special happiness that can only come from drinking good wine and listening to great music, I decided to order the City Winery sliders as a late-night snack. They are served simply on pretzel rolls with lettuce and tomato. The burgers themselves tasted eerily like the ones my dad used to grill in the backyard when I was a kid. So, either my dad is a secret culinary genius or these burgers are fairly average. I think the sliders could have benefited from some cheese or some sort of a secret sauce, but nonetheless, I happily gobbled them up just like I did at backyard barbeques as a child.

If you're looking to treat yourself or impress someone special with a truly lovely evening, City Winery is the place to do it. The dinner and concert I enjoyed there was sincerely one of the best nights out I've had in a long time, and I'll be hoping that all of my favorite musicians book gigs there, so that I have many excuses to return to City Winery.

City Winery is located at 1200 W. Randolph St.; call 312-733-WINE or visit

Do you need some more Sugar & Spice in your life? Follow me on Twitter @SugarAndSpiceMS for inside scoop and commentary on Chicago's dining scene.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

DINING Tallboy Taco, Mon Ami Gabi, The Peninsula 2018-06-19 - —Tallboy Taco, 325 W. Huron St., is showing its support by donating $1 from every rainbow Boozy Pride Paleta spiked with Brugal rum ...

Gay News

SAVOR Trans ice-cream social, Furious Spoon, Taste of Chicago 2018-06-19 - On June 13, Center on Halsted held its third annual transgender ice-cream social, a free event for members of the LGBTQ community—and, specifically, ...

Gay News

DINING Trans social, Respect Wine, Father's Day offers 2018-06-13 - —The 3rd Annual Transgender Community Ice Cream Social will take place Wed., June 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted ...

Gay News

SAVOR Mercat a la Planxa; Furious Spoon and HBH 2018-06-11 - You almost can't throw a rock without hitting a tapas restaurant, but South Loop restaurant Mercat a la Planxa ( 638 S. Michigan ...

Gay News

Sweets & Snacks Expo once again a treat 2018-06-06 - The Sweets & Snacks Expo returned to Chicago on May 22-24, and once again proved itself to be a treat ( pun intended ...

Gay News

DINING Pride salad, Negroni Week, change at Alinea 2018-06-05 - —To celebrate Pride Month, Just Salad, 20 E. Jackson Blvd., is bringing back The Big Gay Garden Salad. The rainbow-inspired Big Gay Garden ...

Gay News

SAVOR Passion House Coffee Roasters; Francesca's lunch 2018-06-04 - In a city where there seem to be thousands of coffeehouses, Passion House Coffee Roasters ( 2631 N. Kedzie Ave.; ) seems ...

Gay News

SAVOR Local chefs show cooking styles on new TV program 2018-05-29 - WTTW delivers flavor with its new show Dishalicious, which features Chicago chefs cooking up different cuisines and dishing on their experience and cooking ...

Gay News

DINING MJ's patio, 'Big Gay Brunch,' Mexique closes 2018-05-29 - —Michael Jordan's Steak House, 505 N. Michigan Ave., and Cornerstone Restaurant Group are offering outdoor seating with the opening of "The Patio" on ...

Gay News

SAVOR Aurelio's Pizza Wrigleyville 2018-05-29 - A revered pizza chain ( 42 locations throughout the nation ) that is known all over the South Side of Chicago and the ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.