No one should know the validity of "location, location, location" better than Dragonfly Mandarin, who moved from its Gold Coast digs to the Randolph Street restaurant corridor. Its former steps-from-Division home put it in close proximity to rowdy bar-scene spillover; these days, it has staked its claim among some of Chicago's culinary elite. Located in the former Azure space, this two-floor spot (complete with two-story wine display) boasts two personas as well, transforming into Fly Bar come 10 p.m. as tables are cleared to make room for dancing.
Though the red and gold setting is new, the Mandarin, Szechuan and Hunan cuisine isnít. Choose from entrees grouped in categories like grains (lo mein), fowl (dreaming roast duck) and from the waters (hot and spicy scallops). You can't go wrong with the chef's recommendation; try "fruits of the sea," a combination of sea scallops, king prawns, lobster tail and crabmeat, accompanied with mushrooms, snow peas, baby corn, napa, red peppers and select spices, cooked in a light sauce and served on a shredded potato nest. Finish with the signature Dragonfly martini, a sweet blend of raspberry sake, amaretto, Sprite and sweet and sour.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz