Atwood Cafe – Restaurant Week

February 23 2009 - 12:00 AM

Restaurant Week has commenced, so now is your chance to sample 3-courses at a high-end restaurant for a cool $22 at lunch or $32 at dinner. I've been meaning to try Atwood Café, so I took this opportunity to stop by for lunch. Upon receiving the menu though, I was severely disappointed to see that it was not the one posted on their website. Oy, no graham-cracker crusted calamari? Was it too late to throw a temper tantrum?

After weighing my options, I decided to stick with the prix fixe menu anyway. This includes soup and salad options for starters, a wild mushroom veggie burger, beer battered fish & chips, or chicken pot pie for entrees, and banana-white chocolate bread pudding, panna cotta or chocolate soufflé for dessert. A bread basket with herb focaccia arrived with lemon-artichoke spread, and I began to take in my surroundings.

Atwood is located in the Hotel Burnham and is named after Charles Atwood, one of the architects of the Reliance Building. The dining room is boldly colored with scarlet, gold and black furnishings, with whimsical vases and floral arrangements scattered as accents. Light fixtures and chairs have elements of art deco design, a throwback to the 1920s, and Frank Sinatra croons lightly in the background. The silverware had a nice heft to it, and the rainbow salt and pepper shakers are worth a closer look. What great character in the room, evocative of Alice in Wonderland!

The restaurant boasts that they offer contemporary American comfort food with seasonal ingredients. Indeed, the menu offers familiar standards, nothing that would be intimidating, but with enough creative twists to keep things interesting. Chef Heather Terhune also seems to be making reasonable efforts to incorporate seasonal ingredients, with winter squashes, mushrooms and apple appearing on the menu. My winter green salad featured mesclun mix topped with shaved fennel, apple sticks and truffle citronette. The dressing was perfectly tart, with just enough pungent notes to indicate the truffle presence. The chicken pot pie arrived in a deep plate, topped with a billowy puff pastry lid. It was nothing remarkable but still extremely satisfying on a cold, snowy day. Finally, I ordered the Greek yogurt-honey panna cotta for dessert. Creamy and silky smooth, this was certainly the apex of an already great meal. The parfait glass was topped with citrus salad of grapefruit, blood orange and mint. If only there were a way to deseed the orange beforehand, so that I don't need to inelegantly spit seeds out.

All in all, Atwood is a great option for lunch in the loop or for a pre-theater dinner. Perhaps some other day I'll be back to order the calamari. Atwood is also celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a special $10 entree for 10 months (through October). This is a great deal, particularly since it is available at lunch and dinner.

Atwood Café
1 W. Washington (Washington & State)
(312) 368-1900