On Wacker just north of Sears Tower, Townhouse Restaurant and Wine Bar--the newest member of the Extra Virgin/Bar Louie extended family--is a swank space with towering mosaic tiles, a sweeping glass wall, and lots of dark wood; the only soft surfaces are seat cushions and human beings. Consequently, the room is extraordinarily noisy, especially at quittin time, when jocks with backpacks and young execs in new suits belly up. There are many wines by the glass and fruity specialty cocktails. Aspirational preparations include the now de rigueur Kobe burger, several tempura items (including good crab cakes), and the usual lineup of land and sea creatures, some dressed with upscale accoutrements such as arugula puree, Asiago polenta, and sage demi-glace. Flavors, however, seem somewhat dialed down-- seared ahi tuna and mustard-rubbed steak were surprisingly flat. But as with real estate, so with restaurants: location rules, and for an after-work snort or a preopera bite, you could do a lot worse.
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