After 17 months, Cherry Circle Hall will reopen inside the Chicago Athletic Association

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For the past 17 months, the Cherry Circle Room has remained closed inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (CAA) off Michigan Avenue; the windowless dining room was not ideal for adhering to pandemic safety best practices. But as autumn approaches, hibernation will finally end on Friday, September 24, when the Land and Sea department will reopen the restaurant with a new menu and a new team.

CAA offers a variety of bars and restaurants, including Cindy’s Rooftop, which only recently reopened. Land & Sea partner Pete Toalson said via email that they have intentionally decided to gradually reopen. The hotel began taking reservations for guests before reopening its second floor, which is home to the Cherry Circle Room and other venues.

“We started with the playroom, then we focused on the drawing room,” writes Toalson. “We just opened Milk Room a few weeks ago and have spent the last month focusing on menu development and staff training for the reopening of the Cherry Circle Room.”

Steak tartare
Land and Sea Department / Clayton Hauck

Restaurant space is heavy on dark woods with a vintage sports club feel that draws steakhouse favorites like a 22-ounce, 30-day, dry-aged bone-in rib-eye ($ 95). The restaurant’s steak tartare and shrimp cocktail are other remnants of the pre-pandemic menu. The restaurant will initially be open for dinner only five days a week.

Cherry Circle has a few notable additions to their staff that pave the way for some new menu items. Alisha Elenz, nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award for Rising Star while working at Mfk in Lakeview and Bar Biscay in West Town, is the new Executive Deputy Chef. Most recently at Goddess & the Grocer, Elenz is joined by Jacob Sloan (W, Soho House) and new sommelier Anika Ellison (Spiaggia). Land & Sea has also promoted Rosie Estrada as Executive Pastry Chef, which ensures the continuity of the restaurant. They will all work under the direction of Land & Sea’s Director of Culinary Operations, Max Robbins, who is also the Executive Chef of Longman & Eagle in Logan Square.

New menu highlights include a roasted Mediterranean seabass during cooking, confit duck legs, and mushroom linguine that uses cashews to mimic cacio e pepe.

Cheese covered with basil leaves

Handmade Burrata
Land and Sea Department / Clayton Hauck

The restaurant bar cart, an element of service that many restaurants have retained in the midst of the pandemic, is back and specializes in Wisconsin supper club Old Fashioneds. The global cocktail program is inspired by The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book with modifications due to the repeal of the 18th century, a venerable book that dates back to 1934.

Cherry Circle’s return follows other reopenings. Earlier this month, Land & Sea reopened the Lost Lake Cocktail Bar in Logan Square with a new drink menu that takes the bar in a new direction with its signature tiki drinks.

Take a look at the menu below. The Cherry Circle room returns Friday.

Cherry Circle Room, inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Avenue, open 5 pm-11pm Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations via Resy.


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