Since I know the majority of my readership here at "The State I Am In" are likely not subscribers of The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, I just thought I would share with you the latest installation of my restaurant review column "Dining Due Diligence," which was published today:
Stepping into owner Keene Addington's Tortoise Club in River North feels like entering a portal back in time, to a bygone era when service reigned supreme, and the customer was always right.
Diners are greeted by a luxurious, masculine interior dominated by dark woods and vintage-inspired artwork. The soft lighting adds to the aura of privacy, making the venue a perfect location for sensitive business discussions that require confidentiality.
Even the bustling bar scene retains a sense of intimacy, making it an ideal destination for an after-hours drink with coworkers. A live jazz trio provides a soothing touch of sophistication without drowning out conversation.
Although the drink menu relies heavily on classic mixed drinks, the signature cocktail — the Tipsy Tortoise — provided a crisp and refreshing opener to the hearty, sumptuous meal to follow.
Also preceding the meal were offerings from the restaurant's bread program, the highlight of which were the minute pretzel batons. Their only flaw proved to be their petite size, which leaves diners wanting. Pumpernickel rolls and asiago tournedos, however, were merely average.
Sharing a plate of the crispy shrimp is an ideal way to start your dinner, as the crustaceans emerge perfectly cooked, superlatively juicy and accented by briny pickled chilies to cut the grease. The beef and barley soup is warming, stick-to-the-ribs fare, ideal for winter.
On the lighter end of the spectrum is the Brussels sprouts salad, which is well-balanced with a bright and acidic dressing, but somewhat lacking in the eponymous sprouts. The obligatory beet salad is distinguished by the presence of a chilled quinoa base, which was a bit disharmonious, but still palatable.
For the entrée course, the Berkshire pork chop proves succulent, but the maple glaze is somewhat aggressive, veering almost into dessert territory. The "caulimac," which derives its creamy texture from puréed vegetables and not dairy, is a surprise hit — with unique noodles cooked to an ideal al dente and a crust of toasted Parmesan and caramelized cauliflower.
Pheasant pie is another standout, with a buttery, flaky crust and a rich, gamey filling. For the less adventurous, chicken is an immensely satisfying choice, with earthy lentils and crisp-tender cabbage, all in a richly savory jus.
If you wish to extend your decadent dining experience, the intensely chocolaty brownie will satiate any "chocoholic." Unfortunately, the pecan pie fell into the too-common trap of overly cloying sweetness and is best avoided.
Tortoise Club is perfectly suited to important meetings, where its traditional, stalwart atmosphere conveys power and prestige. For those planning a larger function, its opulent library space can host receptions and celebrations.
For your business-entertaining needs, run, walk, or crawl to the Tortoise Club, 350 N. State St.