Less than a year after putting a cork in its Lakeview location, Pops for Champagne relocated to River North and doused the neighborhood in over 120 kinds of bubbly. As always, the effervescent venue serves up a staggering selection of French champagne; also look for a list of sparkling wines from Chile, Australia, Spain, South Africa and Italy. Expect to spend $8-$30 per glass; bottles run anywhere from $20-$600.
Flute-swigging action takes place on two levels: Upstairs, the main bar (made of translucent onyx) sits beneath an "entertainment chandelier" comprised of several flat-screen projectors. Amber and gold accents flood the space, and the joint's bubble motif suds up its silvery walls. Champagne accompaniments can be ordered up from a raw bar, where specialties include Maine lobster served with lemon vinaigrette, horseradish mousse and tomato fondue; there's also a dessert menu, hot and cold antipasti and an array of cheeses and small plates (overseen by executive chef Andrew Brochu, of Alinea). Downstairs, a moody, dimly-lit space is meant to evoke a Parisian jazz club from the 1920s. Nightly jazz performances begin at 9 p.m.
When a doggie bag just doesn't cut it, take the Pops experience home by stocking up on goodies from the Pops Shop, located on the main level and open daily at 11 a.m. Merchandise includes accessories, seasonal trinkets and, of course, champagnes and sparkling wines.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg