Executive chef Derek Simcik brings his commitment to fine ingredients and global culinary experience to Atwood Cafe, part of the Hotel Burnham in the historical Reliance Building (the herald of the Chicago School of Architecture). Greek yogurt has a place on the breakfast menu, cheddar grits accompany some entrees, and pan-roasted lake trout and pulled pork might share billing at dinner. The spirit of Oscar Wilde infuses the cafe's personality: The first page of the frequently changing menu references his quote "I can resist anything but temptation." And make no mistake, this eatery offers plenty of temptation.
Ahi tuna tartar ($11) gets a delightful zing from wasabi vinaigrette, and the hearty ribeye ($33) comes with a saucy red wine reduction and potato gratin. Comforting roasted acorn squash arrives in a lovely pool of cinnamon and tomato coulis and lavished with a crumbly topping of date and pistachio quinoa ($20). Crunchy pecan streusel covers sweet potatoes whipped through with maple ($5). For dessert, salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean gelato add flair to apple-walnut dumplings ($8).
Atwood's decor (huge windows, chandeliers with garnet red glass teardrops, cobalt blue glassware, dove gray love seats, stately hutches) recalls grand old Art Deco Chicago, but there's not a whiff of pretension. Located in the Loop, the cafe is just a few blocks from Millennium Park.