Since it’s opening, City Winery has suffered a slew of poor reviews complaining of slow service, mediocre food, and only average wine. Given this, I wasn’t particularly eager to try it, but when a good friend heard one of her favorite singers was playing there – Griffin House – she easily convinced a bunch of us to give it a shot.
I have to say, I was impressed. As someone who does not drink beer (despite the hubby's heroic attempts to find one I like), I have grown accustomed to limited wine options at sporting events and concerts; basically “white” or “red,” if even that. My typical response is to ask which is less bad. But at City Winery there is a full wine list selection, including their own wines on tap. I tried their malbec. Was it the best malbec I’d ever had? No (and it was served cold, which I was not a huge fan of). Was it good enough for a restaurant? Sure. Was it amazing for a concert venue? YES!
Same with the food. I shared the pan seared tofu, mushroom flatbread, and City Winery sliders with my friends. The tofu was tasty, although the portion, especially considering it was $10, felt somewhat akin to highway robbery.
The flatbread was a little greasy and could have used some more mushrooms, and the pretzel buns on the sliders were a tad soggy.
Was it the best food I’d ever had? Definitely not, particularly on Randolph Street. Was it good enough? Well, I understand the less than favorable reviews for those just there for dinner. Was it amazing for a concert venue? Yes, yes, and yes!
And we loved the concert. Larkin Poe, a sister duo from Atlanta, opened with a set of soulful, folksy music that showcased their diversity and talent. I am far from knowledgeable about music (hence a food, and not music, blog), but I thought they were incredible. Here’s one of their latest music videos. The headline, Griffin House, was really talented. I had never heard of him (not surprising) and actually initially thought there was some sort of Harry Potter reference going on. Others, clearly, were much better informed. There were some big fans in the audience and for good reason. He has a great voice with considerable range and writes particularly thoughtful music (he seemed a bit of a tortured soul, which probably helps). I also loved that he spent time in my hometown of Cincinnati, and included it in some of his songs and stories.
I will definitely be back to City Winery – for a concert – and next time with the hubby since he is the music expert of our family. And while I applaud City Winery’s effort in providing more upscale and sophisticated concert fare, until it reaches the level expected of a Chicago restaurant and at the current price point, I’ll hold off on going just for the food.
Try City Winery at 1200 W. Randolph St.