Just because restrictions have lifted and indoor dining is happening again in Chicago doesn’t mean everyone is rushing for the next open table at their favorite restaurant. COVID-19 is still a huge issue, and while it’s great that the Windy City has done a solid job of decreasing corona cases, many of us are still hesitant to venture out in this new normal.
So what is a cautious Chicagoan to do when they crave fine dining amid the pandemic? The Darling, located at 905 West Randolph Street in the West Loop, has created the best combination of aesthetics and safety with private greenhouses in their outdoor space.
Each of The Darling’s ten outdoor greenhouses, called the Rose Garden, can seat two to four guests, providing a safe hub to enjoy their impressive food and drink menu. The best part? The entire dining experience is totally contactless. Guests make reservations online and can browse The Darling’s menu via their phones, ensuring no hassles when it comes to upkeeping social distancing protocols. A $10 deposit is required to book your reservation for the Rose Garden experience, which is available for seating Friday thru Sunday.
If you have never visited The Darling, this opportunity is perfect for taking in the European-style eats offered at the nearly two-year-old restaurant. During previous visits, I have immensely enjoyed the short rib stuffed beignets featuring a delectable peanut dipping sauce. The traditional British sausage rolls are a favorite as well. The entree that really gave my taste buds a refreshing jolt is the cauliflower crust pizza featuring pesto, pecorino cheese, bacon, red onions, and cherry tomatoes.
The drink menu at The Darling is a real standout with numerous cocktails that appeal to even the most exclusive tastes. If you’re looking to have drinks with friends while in the West Loop, you can’t go wrong with a pitcher of their English Rose concoction featuring Prosecco and Grey Goose vodka highlighted by Elderflower syrup, mint, and lime. Keeping with the roses motif, The Darling’s pitcher of Desert Rose is another liquid highlight definitely worth visiting. The libation is a tour de force for tequila fans, consisting of tequila, jalapeno-infused Mezcal, and a mixture of blood orange juice and lemon juice with agave-tajin syrup.
Rum aficionados can’t go wrong with the Darling Buds of May cocktail perfectly mixed with passion fruit puree, basil, and apple cider. Of course, sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a good old Old Fashioned. The Darling serves them up with the choice of bourbon, scotch, or Oaxacan.
The Darling’s interior is something to be seen with the entrance resembling a flower shop and opening up to an English-style mansion with large fireplaces amidst the European furniture and live entertainment ranging from magicians and dancers. However, to have a night on the town while staying safe, the Rose Garden is the ideal settings for an intimate, socially distant dining experience with great food and impressive cocktails.
Be sure to call ahead or make reservations online for the Rose Garden greenhouse experience and enjoy a great and safe night out in the West Loop.
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO