I've found a time machine. Or at least, as close as you can get to one in the restaurant world.
Untitled is themed as a prohibition-era speakeasy, with 1920s period cocktails, jazz bands nearly every night, and periodic burlesque performers who turn up to give the band a break once every hour or so. The restaurant itself has a total of two dining rooms, four bars, a private room and a couple of quite luxurious restrooms as well. The atmosphere is very dark, plush and secretive. You could almost believe you truly are a "Bright Young Thing" of the 1920s with a plum velvet cloche and stockings rolled down below the knee-length beaded fringe on your dress.
Last fall, a couple of friends decided to take me to Untitled after a day of eating and drinking throughout the North Side. It was a weekend when my husband and cat were out of town, so they may have felt sorry for me, but either way I'm glad they did. It's since become one of my favorite spots in Chicago.
Untitled is, true to its name, indistinguishable from the rest of the street other than a plain black heavy-looking door. There is no name on the door. It's on Kinzie, close to the Walgreens east of the Merchandise Mart.
The second time I went there, without my more experienced friends to guide me, I walked up and down Kinzie at least twice before I finally found the entrance.
Although the atmosphere alone is a reason to visit, Untitled has one of the most extensively stocked bars I've seen yet in Chicago. With fairly obscure spirits and liqueurs and a vast wine list, their bar selections are sure to please any palate. Plus, their bartenders are full-on mixologists, able to create a drink for you with only a couple of cues.
But sadly, my favorite drink is no longer on their menu, and no matter how much I beg, they won't make it for me anymore. It consisted of tequila, triple sec, grapefruit juice, club soda and a few other things that I'm not sure how to name. It was wonderful.
However, when I visited the establishment last Sunday, their bartender almost lived up to it by creating a drink for me that he called the "Diablo." I asked for something sour with tequila, and though it wasn't as pucker-inducing as the grapefruit concoction, it certainly met my requirements.
Their signature cocktail includes ingredients as diverse as lavender syrup and pipe tobacco smoke, of all things, so you can imagine how difficult it is to decode exactly what's in one of their cocktails without a written recipe.
But their drinks are not the only thing on offer at Untitled. Their food is also amazingly varied and inventive. Although larger options are available, the majority of dining at Untitled is ordered through several small plates to be shared by the table. A few of my favorites are the homemade pretzels with dipping sauce, salmon tartare, short ribs and scallops, smoked chicken caesar salad, and last but not least the snow crab claws.
While these dishes may seem slightly ordinary, I can assure you that the chefs at Untitled put their own gourmet spin on each item. I have dreams about the snow crab claws.
Although my latest visit was relatively quiet due to it being a Sunday night, I do love to go enjoy the bands playing in the large performance room after dinner. My usual strategy is to make a dinner reservation at about 6 PM and eat for 2-3 hours, joining the party next door when finished.
If I could, I'd go every night.
Untitled is located at 111 W. Kinzie St., Chicago. Visit untitledchicago.com for menus, schedules and reservations.