When the team behind Schoolyard
opened their fourth restaurant, they dubbed it Sidebar after a legal term. Located in the heart of Chicago's law office district, the restaurant's name is most likely not lost on the buttoned-up crowd that stops by for happy hour, lunch and dinner.
Don't expect the rowdy fun and well-loved drink specials of its sibling bars here. The Grille skews more restaurant, with a decor that welcomes its sophisticated patrons with plenty of mahogany and leather, though giant floral arrangements, recessed stained glass ceilings and plenty of beer on tap remind guests that they're not in the office anymore.
Score a seat at the bar and order off a menu that includes appetizers ($3-$10) both familiar and with-a-twist: Options include spinach dip, quesadillas and BBQ ribs alongside Reuben Rolls (crispy wontons stuffed with the contents of a reuben sandwich). Signature cocktails include the straight-up Ketel or Bombay Sidecar Martini ($8) and nostalgic concoctions like Old Fashioneds.
A dimly lit, elevated area near the bar hosts the dinner crowd. Expense-account-worthy entrees ($14-$28) include honey-spice roasted chicken, dry-aged New York strip and Australian lamb chops. The menu also features soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg