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Valentine's day in Chicago: art lover's edition

In an effort to save the hides of well-intentioned but romantically stunted men and women around Chicago, we continue our series on our favorite Valentine’s day events taking place downtown. Today we turn our attention to the Art Institute — and really, if you and your special someone can’t squeeze a little tenderness out of one of the country’s great art museums, your relationship may have bigger problems than deciding where to spend the 14th.

Feb. 14: A Palette-able Meal

There’s an aphorism floating around out there about the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach, the veracity of which we can’t really call into question, except that it omits any mention of women, for whom we happen to know the very same is true. Which makes kicking off Valentine’s day at Terzo Piano, the Tony Mantuano-led restaurant inside the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, such a great idea: When you start out taking care of the stomachs, everybody’s heart is bound to end up in a happy state as well.

Mantuano, you may recall, is the top toque at the older and more venerated Spiaggia, a restaurant whose name might not translate directly as legendary but which is synonymous with that concept all the same. His eight-month-old Art Institute venue, Terzo Piano, generally serves as a lunch spot (it’s also open for Thursday dinner), but for Valentine’s day it’s opening at 10 a.m. and offering brunch. The special menu features three courses, with options that include oatmeal made in-house and served with almonds, dried cherries and sweetened crème fraîche; organic chicken liver pâté and rillettes with brioche crostini; and grilled, sliced beef with a soft-poached egg and Gorgonzola dolce fondata.

Dessert is listed as “Koval Ginger Liqueur and babka French toast” with ice cream; however, the real topper (or prelude) to your meal should be the museum itself, which happens to be offering free general admission all month long. We’re not sure whether contemplation of fine art aids digestion, but we’re convinced it aids romance — and that, after all, is the point.

For reservations (which are recommended), call (312) 443-8650.


  • N. Staszak 4 years ago

    Nicely written article. I was just down at the AIC Saturday to take advantage of the free day and browse my way through the Modern Wing. I see now I should have stopped in for lunch as well.


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