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Free Rein

224 N. Michigan Ave. (E. Lake St.) Send to Phone
Artful brasserie fare from chef Aaron Lirette inside the St. Jane hotel.

Open Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

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Free Rein, Chicago, IL

Free Rein Restaurant Review

About the restaurant & décor: Chicago's landmark 1929 Art Deco Carbide and Carbon building, which formerly housed the Hard Rock Hotel, has been revitalized as the St. Jane hotel, thanks to Becker Ventures and Aparium Hotel Group. The hotel's restaurant, Free Rein, likewise puts a new spin on a classic with its contemporary, upscale take on the brasserie. A coffee bar/pastry station attracting foot traffic opens up to the wide dining room, flanked on one side by a long bar and the other by roomy booths. Large columns and modern tube light fixtures bring drama to the space.

Likes: Artful plates and just-sized-right portions.
Dislikes: None.

Food & Drinks: As its name suggests, Free Rein keeps flexibility and creativity in mind in interpreting New American cuisine. Executive chef Aaron Lirette previously created elevated American fare at GreenRiver, and fans of his will be pleased that he's brought along dishes like the saffron spaghetti with sea urchin sauce. The all-day restaurant caters to shareable plates for post-work meals and more extravagant courses for business and special occasion dining. Standout starters include kampachi with wasabi, English peas and hearts of palm (on the raw menu) and poached trout with yogurt, beets and summer berries. Patrons might also encounter a shellfish tower and beef tartare, which gets a twist from smoked beef fat aïoli. Moving on to entrées, duck breast oozes sweet-savory richness with barley, plums and chanterelle mushrooms. A strawberry-flavored pistachio financier meets a black-tea strawberry consommé for a light, sweet finale from pastry chef Evan Sheridan. Wines emphasize New World varietals, rosé and Champagne.
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