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Inside the Restaurants and Lounges of Chicago's New Elysian Hotel

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  Site Where: 11 East Walton Street [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60611
April 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM | by | ()

Chicago has been been hopping these last couple years with new, large hotels popping up all over the city, and one of the biggest openings was The Elysian, a 60-story hotel/residential tower in the city's ritzy Gold Coast with nightly rates starting from $425. We've been watching for what feels like forever—ever since it was just a nice little building with leasing offices and a small building model—but this week, we actually walked inside the finished structure.

First stop? Balsan—the hotel's main restaurant, named after one of Coco Chanel's lovers. With friends, we enjoyed a pricey dinner of everything from hamachi to foie gras and even pizza (excuse us, "flatbread"). The bill was large enough that the restaurant allowed us to take our Balsan desserts into Ria, the hotel's lounge and slightly more casual dining room.

The service and food may have been excellent, but you do get a feeling that a celebrity chef is missing, as Charlie Trotter backed out of doing a restaurant here a while ago. Having a Marc Jacobs boutique at street-level does majorly help the hotel's clout, however.

Next we sniffed around the hotel lobby, and for an open property, it was altogether too quiet and empty. A lobby sitting area of all black velvet couches and white oversizes fireplace mantels gave us the feeling of trespassing in an eclectic millionaire's mansion. And that's pretty much what it was; the Elysian is developed by Mario Tricoci, Jr., son of famed hairdresser Mario Tricoci.

Perhaps the only public area of the hotel that feels like it belongs in the Gold Coast, or really Chicago at all, is Bernard's, a sort of dark and leather sofa-filled library baron the second floor. In fact, this is where we found the most people hanging out on the evening of our visit when Ria was deserted and Balsan nicely populated, but with hardly a rush on reservations.

But then, a 60-story French chateau might be out of place anywhere...unless we're talking a new feature at DisneyWorld.

[All photos: HotelChatter]

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