312 Chicago

May 13 2005 - 1:55 PM

As a "Broadway in Chicago" season ticket holder, I’ve tried to get a
reservation at 312 at least a half dozen times.  As the Chicago theater
scene is booming, the restaurant scene in that area is not, and I’ve walked
in circles around Randolph for hours trying to find someplace that is
actually open after 6pm.

Consequently, I’ve given up the search and have
been frequenting the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields and have
been pretty satisfied with their service and prices yet the food is somewhat
pedestrian, making me long for something new.  So again, walking in circles
around Randolph we decided to try 312 and foolishly asked for a table for

We got the standard answer of a minimum 2 hour wait, on a Wednesday
night, and was told we could sit at the bar.  There is usually a pretty long
wait for the bar but this time we saw an empty table and pounced on it. 
Finally we were going taste exactly why 312 is one of the hardest
restaurants in town to get into.  After we devoured our entrees from being
over hungry and exhausted we came to the conclusion that it is not the food
that drives its popularity. 

It has to be the location and the utter lack of
any other options besides McDonalds in proximity to the theaters.  The
service was extremely prompt and helpful, as probably 90% of the people in
the restaurant are going to a show, the staff keeps things moving, which is
appreciated.  I liked the presentation of the seafood risotto special with
shrimp with a buttery flavor that was enjoyable enough.  The halibut sitting
on a potato puree with butter drizzle and scallops was also good, if not a
bit too salty. 

It’s just that they were dishes I’ve had at many other
restaurants many times before, and sometimes better.  The menu was not
extensive, which is OK however nothing really jumped out at me.  I saw the
standard Caesar salads whiz by, although I did not order one, and the dessert
menu looked appealing.  Yet I wasn’t wow’d by the experience.  While I might try
my chances at getting that table in the bar again, I will most
likely go back to the Walnut Room knowing that I’m not missing out on
anything, and will still make it to the theater on time.

312 Chicago
312 (duh) 696-2420
136 N. Lasalle