Gilt Bar

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Brendan Sodikoff, a former corporate chef for Lettuce Entertain You whose resume includes stints with Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse, is behind this casual, relatively affordable eatery in River North. Sodikoff's ingredient-focused philosophy easily translates to comforting dishes such as simple gnocchi with brown butter and sage and beef pot roast with red wine. Rather than a lengthy list of appetizers, the menu starts off with three "on toast" options, including roasted bone marrow with red-onion jam. Salads and vegetables get plenty of attention too, with options such as shaved raw veggies in champagne vinaigrette and slow-braised kale with white beans and chorizo. Paul McGee (the Whistler) consulted on the cocktail menu, making this a fine stop for drinks alone. Head down the stairs to find Curio, a cash-only basement cocktail lounge that serves an expanded menu of 20-plus hand-crafted drinks in a candelit speakeasy atmosphere.