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Openings Tue Aug 27 2013

Parliament Opens in River North

20130815_205156_1.jpgI showed up to Parliament, the River North lounge that opened in mid-August, on a Thursday night wearing a loose fitting black dress, a cardigan, and flats -- the same outfit I had worn to the office. I did have mascara on and I remembered to comb my hair and put on lip gloss, but I was far outdone by nearly every other person. Most of the women sported spike heels and tiny, skin-tight dresses and most of the men wore ties and had carefully gelled hair.

So it was with this high degree of self-consciousness that I perused the place while sipping a gin and tonic. The focal point of the room was a striking light fixture in the center. It looked as if someone had individually strung strands of wire of varying lengths with cubic zirconia and suspended them from the ceiling. Beneath was a circular seating area, the booths textured and cream-colored, the better to morph as the Vegas-y lighting changed from pinks to purples. Booths lined either side of the perimeter, facing each other across the room. There's intentionally not one bad seat in the house. (This is true; the bathrooms are downstairs).

The modus operandi of this parliament, though, is bottle service. Each section of seating has a Dom Perignon bucket for Mo√ęt & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot, the modular tables cleverly designed to store clean glassware beneath. For even bigger spenders, there's a members-only room, The House of Lords, tucked in the back corner.

If you're like me and crave a bit of quiet earlier in the evening, there's a smaller space with a Champagne-loaded bar, dark walls and a more intimate feel adjacent to the main room. Or you can take the glass-walled elevator up to the roof, to the Kensington Roof Garden and Lounge, with the Brown Line trundling by on one side, Trump Tower in the distance. I visited the Kensington before construction had been completed, but just being in the open air made it seem like a place where I could linger.

After a few drinks, my self-consciousness gave way and I found myself back in Parliament where a DJ had been playing. There's no dance floor exactly, but when it gets late enough, when enough Champagne or gin has been drunk, you can make room in the wide space between the bar and the center seating area, especially if the DJ is looping in '80s pop songs.

Parliament
324 W. Chicago Ave.
Kensington private alley entrance @ 812 N. Orleans St.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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