Gemini Bistro + J Parker = Date Night Love

Gemini Bistro + J Parker = Date Night Love

Date night! The hubby and I had been meaning to try Gemini Bistro for years. I used to live right around the corner, but for some reason we never made it over there until now. Tsk, tsk. Unpretentious and reasonably inexpensive while still exuding a comfortably upscale air, the “American” bistro was clearly gourmet and the service excellent. Our waiter was attentive (but not annoyingly so) and gracious when we requested he slow down the pace of dinner after our appetizer came out too quickly for our liking on a date night.

To start, we shared the jumbo lump crab cake, which was satisfyingly replete with fresh, sumptuous crabmeat rather than filler and cooked until lightly browned on the outside. It was served with a Tabasco aioli that was more aioli than Tabasco (just fine by me). It was delicious but frankly unnecessary; that crab cake needed no accompaniment.

For dinner, I had the steaming hot muscles fra diavolo. The waiter and chef effortlessly fulfilled both my requests: that the muscles not be overly spicy (I’m such a wimp), and that the grilled bread served on the side not be buttered (unnecessary calories). While seemingly simple, at least in my experience these kinds of requests are often disregarded, so I definitely appreciated the thoroughness.

                                                     Muscles Fra Diavolo                                                              

The hubby had the highlight of the night, the free-range chicken. I’m not sure what enticed him to order that, because I snobbishly typically regard chicken as a make-at-home rather than order-at-a-restaurant food. But Gemini Bistro showed that the simple and ordinary can be executed in a way that makes it extraordinary. The meat was fall off the bone moist and the skin slightly salty and crispy. And the pomme puree (yup, that’s mashed taters) were to die for.

                                        Free-Range Chicken                                         
After our meal, we headed over to the now opened J Parker at the top of the Hotel Lincoln (seems some staff thought it was the “official” opening while others considered it the “unofficial” opening, so I’ll just go with “new”). It was dazzling. There is an “indoor” area with dinning tables and a bar, and an “outdoor” space with an additional bar and more seating, including comfy couches. The rooftop is surrounded with (hopefully incredibly sturdy) glass, allowing visitors to drink in Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan, and the Chicago skyline. With the exception of one female bartender with an annoying air of too cool for school, the vibe was great. The hubby is concerned it could become a bit of a d-bag scene, and given the $200 “punch” drinks I can certainly see why, but I’m hopeful J Parker remains an upscale yet relaxed rooftop space. For more information on J Parker, see Eater’s recent posting, View from Above.

Try Gemini Bistro at 2075 N. Lincoln Ave., and try J Parker at 1816 N. Clark.



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