There’s Always Champagne for Breakfast at the Dana Hotel & Spa

Food Writer Leah Nolan visits the Dana Hotel & Spa in Chicago, Illinois.

Have you ever had a party in the shower? Not in an X-rated sort of way (get your mind out of the gutter). I’m talking inviting friends, putting on bathing suits and heading over to The Tranquil Suite at the Dana Hotel and Spa to have a wine and spa party in the expansive shower, which is complete with two bench seats, five shower nozzles and has a very spa like feel — fuzzy slippers and bathrobes included. This serene, tiled retreat is just one of the many little luxuries of the space.

As you can imagine, the bathroom is huge, and with the swanky living room, bar area, two balconies and the most comfortable bed known to man, I really could have spent the entire weekend hanging out in the room. But shopping and eating pulled my attention elsewhere. After a few hours of retail therapy, (the hotel is 3 blocks from Michigan Avenue) I headed downstairs to Freestyle Food + Drink. Once I passed the long bar in this contemporary space I reached a host stand in the middle of the room and was shown to my table.

Photo Credit: Freestyle Food & Drink
Photo Credit: Freestyle Food & Drink

I sat down, glanced over the menu and was greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable member of the staff who made a few wonderful recommendations. The server came over and took the appetizer order — Rock Shrimp and Sesame Chicken. I had been informed earlier that these were two of their signature dishes on a menu that boasted American cuisine with a global twist. Once they arrived, we dug in.

chicken

 

The Rock Shrimp came coated in a chili aioli tempura batter, which gave it a nice crunch. And while the shrimp itself was slightly sweet (this particular type of shrimp tastes similar to lobster), it was balanced by the heat from the chili sauce, the sharp notes of the garlic and ginger and the sweetness from the dried pineapple.  This dish tantalized the taste buds. The Sesame Chicken had a soy glaze and was topped with dried chili, baby bok choy, sesame seeds and was served with a side of white rice.  The thing that struck me about this American Chinese dish was the acerbic flavor of the baby bok choy and how it worked together with the chicken and the soy glaze to create a distinctive and saporous taste.

 

Our next course, the Veggie Chopped Salad is something I would eat every day. Made with mixed greens, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, and topped with the most beautiful avocado slices, it was a stunning display of fresh ingredients. Dressed in mustard vinaigrette, the acidity of this dressing was a superb addition to the toothsome fruits and veggies.

 

avocado

The Roasted Beet Salad came next, and was a slightly lighter dish but still packed a ton of flavor. The crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts added a tangy textural contrast, while the petite basil brought in savory notes. The punchiness of the champagne vinaigrette accompanied the earthiness of the beets in a way that would satisfy epicurean tastes.

 

I always welcome any dish that will produce a feeling of childlike nostalgia, especially when it comes with a more refined, adult twist. And the Grilled Cheese Sandwich did not disappoint. The thick-cut, buttery bread was toasted to perfection and between it sat garlic Boursin, gooey, melted Pepper Jack and American cheeses with sliced jalapenos. And did I mention it came with Truffle Fries? This was the pinnacle of the night. 

 


And to keep on theme, we finished the meal with milk and cookies —  but not your grandma’s milk and cookies (and for the record my grandma’s milk and cookies are delicious). These yummy chocolate cookies came out as little sandwiches with cream sandwiched in the center and were of course, accompanied by an ice cold glass of milk. They were rich, sweet and meant to be shared. After this ambrosial meal, that big comfy bed I mentioned earlier was calling my name, but I decided to push on and popped up to Vertigo Sky Lounge, located on the 26th floor of the hotel for a nightcap, and I’m glad I did.
 

With ample outdoor space that includes a stunning fire, this was a great spot to just hang out, chat and enjoy a glass of champagne. Inside there was a DJ and a ton of dancing. The indoor-outdoor concept offered the best of both worlds. After the champagne was gone I headed downstairs and instantly fell asleep in my cloudlike bed.

 

balcony

The next morning I woke up, had my coffee in the shower – I literally could have spent the entire day just hanging out in there – and then ordered room service, made a mimosa (the bar in the room was very reasonably priced) and ate in my cozy bathrobe and fluffy slippers. It was just the sort of relaxing morning I needed and I never had to leave my room. So what’s the takeaway from all of this? The Dana Hotel and Spa offers an ideal mix of fun and tranquility. It’s a place I could come and relax with my significant other or a weekend destination to have fun with friends. So, what are you waiting for?! Book your weekend here

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