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“Super Cool, One-of-a-kind” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Aviary

The Aviary
953-955 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL
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Ranked #127 of 8,264 restaurants in Chicago
Cuisines: Eclectic
Dining options: Reservations, Late Night
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations, Late Night
Anchorage, Alaska
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Super Cool, One-of-a-kind”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

This was one of my favorite places I went on my trip. It's tucked away with no recognizable sign on the building. But inside, the ambiance blows you away. Super comfortable seating, great trendy lighting and music. The drinks are a production and although they are not cheap, you understand the price with all the detail that goes into them. Our server was great, very friendly and helpful. I really have nothing bad to say about this place. Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time because seating is limited.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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85 reviews from our community

89% Recommend
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, IL
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“It's All About the Presentation, and Thus the Benjamins”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

This is an experience, not so much a bar. And most experiences are expensive. The Aviary is an expensive (but worth it) experience.

I'll begin with the visual aspect of The Aviary: it's pretty. The interior is a nice mix of mod & romance...very dim lighting, great art work, orchids. And the seating is either booths with high backs for privacy or benches + chairs at tables. Either option can be construed as intimate.

The cocktails are what you would expect from Grant Achatz and his team of brilliant makers. The drink menu is exceptionally well thought out and well done, and I can only surmise is seasonal. The presentation is a large amount of the fun and intrigue. Lighting drinks on fire, using what I can only describe as a bunson burner under a large carafe of mulling spices, glass canteens that on first inspection look like they house infused olive oil, but in actuality have a spirited spirit in them; it's all very impressive. And everything that I tasted was good. I had a poached pear which tastes like what you would expect, but the pinot noir component was in the form of a hand shaved piece of pinot noir ice. There were walnut crumbles on the rim...bravo.

The service is killer and the point of going is to experience an unconventional, "think about mixology differently" style experience. If that isn't your thing, then this isn't your spot. But it really is a great experience and if you are forward thinking enough to email and get reservations, then enjoy the experience. Worry about the hit to your bank account later.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Could have been spectacular”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2012

Upon arrival I was impressed with the decor and style of the Aviary. It's a beautiful restaurant, and the ambiance is soft and romantic.

The drink and food selection are vast. I really like the bites concept of their food- everything came as a trio of single bites, and it was all delicious. One of our companions couldn't stop talking about the ramen with the pork belly as well.

The drinks are all unique, but it seems to be all flash and no substance. Some of the drinks come with ridiculous preparations that are just meant to be flashy. I didn't particularly care for any of my drinks, nor my companions when tasting theirs. I opted for the 3 drink menu, priced at $45, picking three tequila based drinks. One was green apple- tasted nothing like green apple, and mostly just tequila. The second was a margarita which was okay, had cranberry and a cinnamon stick. Neat concept on that one, but again could only really taste tequila. The third was horchata, which I was really excited about. It arrived in a styrofoam cup with a plastic straw- super gimmicky and out of place. I hated this drink, it has cayenne pepper in it which wasn't noted on the menu. Had I have known I wouldn't have ordered it. At an average of $15 a drink it's disappointing when you don't like one of them at all.

I'm not sure if I would go back on my own, it's a place that's trying to hard to be unique and create an air of exclusivity. It's a place to take a date or group of people you want to impress. Overall I enjoyed the experience because of my company, not so much the Aviary itself.

Visited December 2012
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Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Impress your date night”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

We went on a Thursday evening. Given a hard time at the door about not having reservations. It was busy, but not overcrowded so we were not sure what the big deal was about. You can see the bar where they concoct the unusual drinks. Very interesting, simple elegant interior w/ long wavy couch seating that sat 3 tables per side that faced each other. The interesting concoctions of drinks are very expensive, but amazing & unusual. Just like Alinea, it's all about food/drink art & presentation here. Our waiter, Ethan was very knowledgeable & presented the drinks beautifully. Since I was the DD, I had a non-alcoholic ginger drink that was very gingery (I like ginger, but most might think it's too gingery). At the table next to us, they ordered a drink that was in a plastic bag & when it was cut open, the smell of lavender filled the space. Another table had a round fruit infused drink with different fruits inside. It was interesting to see the various vessels for presenting the drinks. The petite appetizers looked amazing too, especially the lollipops. We had the chocolate dessert & it was delicious. It popped in your mouth! You can't take a small bite because there is liquid inside & it will get everywhere!!! Looked like it was more for the 30-40's crowd. If you don't mind spending a lot for drinks, this is a fantastic, romantic place to impress your date (just make reservations ;)))

  • Visited December 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Panama City
Top Contributor
119 reviews 119 reviews
87 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
“WOW! Like nothing you've ever seen before!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

We didn't know exactly what to expect at The Aviary, but I think that the suspense was part of the fun. First of all, this place isn't so easy to find. Once you do find it, they guide you down a darkish passage and there are three doors. We didn't know which door to go in, since none of them were marked. However, once inside, we just took in the view for a moment. It's beautifully decorated, very classy, comfortable and modern.

The menu undersells the drinks, as does the waitress. All you really know is that the drinks are pricy! Around $20 each! You sit there for a moment wondering why a drink would be $20 !?!

Well, you aren't just ordering a drink...you are ordering an experience! There is some major science behind these cocktails and it could only be described as Molecular Mixology!

I don't want to ruin any surprises, all I can is GO! It's worth the money and the story you'll be able to tell your friends about.

I will mention that before we arrived at The Aviary, we had dinner at Frontera Grill (which was amazing - check out my review). Chef/owner Rick Bayless confirmed to us that The Aviary was a must visit, and he was absolutely right!

Frontera Grill and The Aviary...a perfect night out in Chicago!

Visited November 2012
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