Make an escape from the crowds that throng Michigan Avenue and flee to an Armenian hideaway located only a short walk away (but a far cry away from the typical tourist-heavy, Mag Mile restaurants). Exotic and mysterious, Sayat Nova is dimly lit by several hanging lanterns that cast shadows on the walls and ceiling, and the brown walls and sporadically lit candles add to the cavern-like atmosphere. Rugs hanging on the walls and a few shelves holding wine bottles and ornate hookahs are the only decoration; but despite the lack of dressings, Sayat Nova's simple elegance can't be denied.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the dim interior, the host will seat you at a table by the front window or in the half-circle booths that line the back of the narrow restaurant. The booths are romantic and a good place to sit with a date: A lantern casts a faint glow that flatters every face, and the back of the booths have a cut out pattern with the same flattering light glowing through it as well.
Unless you are familiar with authentic Armenian cuisine, the menu could be as mysterious to you as the restaurant. The wait staff is willing to help you sort through dishes such as baba ghannouj, vegetable kebab, lamb cous cous and the shawerma plate, a charbroiled beef filet served with pickled turnips, tahini, rice pilaf and red cabbage. While the pickled turnips might not be for everybody, Sayat Nova's prices will fit every budget; dishes range from a modest $8 to a steeper $23.
When planning your evening at Sayat Nova, make sure to call or check the website for upcoming events. The restaurant regularly schedules music, dancing DJs.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Albrey Nuss