In a city filled with several world-class restaurants and wonderfully obscure hidden gems, I would hope you have a damn good excuse for considering having a full meal inside of a Holiday Inn. But if, for whatever reason medical emergency, Holiday Inn job interview, severe laziness this is your only option, don't fret: the entrees are pure quality, part of a solid, sometimes bold menu that could conceivably fit at one of Chicago's high-end hot spots.
No matter the fact that this is an often-times cheesy hotel chain, it's still fine dining, as wild salmon with a honey mustard gloss ($25.95), Costa Rican tilapia with herb lemon butter ($21.95), and the obligatory filet mignon ($26.95) all cater to the most demanding of business executives. Even if the dinner menu is plopped in front of you, don't be afraid to ask for the lunch menu the wait staff will be all too happy to oblige, and the prices will be kinder to your wallet.
The buffalo chicken Panini, topped with buffalo jack cheese and Cajun mayonnaise and served with fries or a platter of fresh fruit, will run you a much more reasonable $12.95, as will the rotisserie turkey breast sandwich. In fact, virtually all the entrees for lunch run between $12-$16. The unlimited soup & salad bar may be the most economical option ($9.95 per person), open from 11 a.m.2 p.m., and featuring a number of chef-prepared salads: tropical fruit, shrimp & seafood, Italian gemelli.
From a food quality standpoint, this is top-notch stuff fresh, tasty, even occasionally imaginative but it's also a little strange dining in what's primarily a hotel lobby, where you could literally shout to the front desk. The open-air atrium that surrounds the café does keep the atmosphere slightly pleasing, but the tacky carpet design and that distinct "hotel smell" will also invade the senses.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert