Contemporary Midwestern at the Four Seasons

By Anthony Todd

Who hasn’t fantasized about having dinner at The Four Seasons, surrounded by celebrities, diamond necklaces, and marble fountains? Then you wake up and realize that you don’t have a vault full of gold bars in your basement. Luckily, Allium has come to the rescue, making The Four Seasons accessible to all. In the former home of the stuffy (if tasty) Seasons, the brand-new Allium makes all of that glitz available at a reasonable price. The dining room still has the same beautiful view, and the marble fountain is still tinkling in the background, but now you can order a barrel-aged Manhattan made with local FEW rye and not have to worry if your tuxedo studs are out of place.

You absolutely cannot miss the Chicago style hot dog. The brief menu description (“homemade everything”) doesn’t begin to capture this dish, which includes a complete set of every condiment and topping you can think of, laid out in tiny dishes and miniature squeeze bottles. The bacon and onion buns, a successful imitation of a classic dish at a Lithuanian bakery in Bridgeport, are just about the best thing you can get for $4. If you’re looking for something light and healthy, try the house-cured sockeye salmon with pickled beets and rye cakes, which will make think Hickey has imprisoned a Jewish deli owner in his prep kitchen. End your meal with the miso-butterscotch shake, which sounds like an Asian-fusion absurdity but is one of the best milkshakes you’ll ever find, combining salty, savory, and sweet in every mouthful.

the crowd

People-watching is half the appeal of Allium, and the costume drama that is The Four Seasons is enough to provide a complete night of entertainment. On our most recent visit, we saw Katie Couric at a table in the dining room and Sandra Bernhard with a martini in the bar. No fooling.

... on the side

sweet seats
If you can get a seat by the dining room window (try a weekday evening reservation) you will not regret it—this may be the only decent food with a view in the entire city of Chicago. If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, try one of the many leather-accented nooks in the side rooms of the outer bar.

Low. Perfect for romantic conversation or secret business dealings.


Breakfast: daily 6:30 AM–11 AM
Lunch: daily 11 AM–3 PM
Dinner: daily 5 PM–11 PM

price range

$10 (chicken and dumpling soup) to $52 (bone-in dry-aged rib eye)