Bound to be quite popular on the summer social scene, we decided to check out 3 of the 4 concepts at the preppy Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
1. Cindy’s: There was a line to get up to this rooftop bar here by 5:45, but that didn’t mean the venue was jam packed. In fact they’ve made most of the space 6-top picnic tables, and most of the patrons were in groups of 2, so there was plenty of open and wasted space. The balcony has one of the coolest views of downtown with Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, and the sailboats in Lake Michigan. Food, served family style, was surprisingly solid once we could find a waitress. The burrata was perfectly seasoned and served on toast with broccoli rabe and cherry tomato that placated two of us happily until drinks arrived. Service left everything to be desired, but here’s hoping that was just opening week. The cocktails were designed by local master Paul McGee, so you know they will be something special. Perfect for summer: Kick in the Daisy made with ancho chile-infused espolon reposado, licor 43, watermelon juice, and pink sea salt.
2. The Game Room: If Cindy’s on the roof is for the trendsetters, Game Room is for locals, and dare I say even families. They have pool and other vintage table games, but also a much more laid back atmosphere and surprisingly cheap eats. You can grab a stool, a cocktail, and a hot dog with fries for around $10! It was a damn good hot dog too… Their beer selection was admirable, and even with low light reminiscent of a Logan Square bar, there were kids running around excited for their milkshakes.
3. The Cherry Circle Room: The entire hotel capitalizes on its vintage feel with employees dressed in preppy sweaters and sneakers evoking gym glasses of yore, but it’s not until you get to the Cherry Circle Room do you truly feel like you’ve gone back in time. This wood paneled room without windows makes for a old school upscale dining concept complete with Paul McGee making tableside martinis from his cart.
There’s also a tiny room next to the Cherry Circle that will be the Milk Room, serving rare spirits according to McGee’s program and of course a Shake Shack on ground level if you’re still hungry. It took us hours to bounce around and try out all the concepts, but that was half the fun. It’s impossible to feel over or under dressed due to the range of facilities, so head up to the roof, play some pool, indulge in one of the best martinis in town, and know your friends will probably make you come back here all summer.