Tucked in right next to Bertrand Goldberg’s celebrated Marina City, you’ll find a rather rare gem in River North known as the Tortoise Club. In an area that is fairly rife with eateries that can be a bit boisterous (albeit compelling), the Tortoise offers a bit more gentility in a down-tempo wood-paneled clubby type atmosphere that is redolent of a different era soaked in Manhattans and three piece suits.
As spring has arrived, you might want to sit outside in their patio area for a drink to get the evening started. It’s a fine place to sit outside and soak in the conversations of folks going by on State Street on their way to their own Friday evening fete.
After celebrating the violet hour outdoors, head on inside to check out their main menu. What will grab your attention first are the caricatures (above) depicting various Chicago “scoundrels” of the late 19th and early 20th century that are part of the decor that pays homage to the Windy City’s colorful past. Executed by artist Chuck Senties, you can look closely around the room to see noted fan dancer Sally Rand, Mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson and other luminaries.
By now, you have gotten the lay of the land, so sit down and start things off right with a Manhattan. What’s that? You already had one outside? Well, they can also offer you a range of other libations, including their recently unveiled Chicagoan, which is well worth checking out.
I would recommend that you start with the relish tray, which includes marinated olives, a play on the Scotch egg that call a “Scotch Olive,” pickled beets and other introductory items. As you ease into a second drink, you should call out for their crabmeat avocado salad (above) or oysters Rockefeller.
For mains, they do have their signature wild pheasant pie which is a flaky bit of divinity made possible through a bit of culinary communion in the kitchen. I’d also suggest the Chilean sea bass (above), which is accompanied by watercress and ginger, along with coconut rice and shrimp ragu.
Perhaps after this repast, you’ll stop by over at the bar for one more. Of course, you’d also do well to check out their private dining room options for your next tete-a-tete, gathering or confab.