It's always better to do it in private — at least, that seems to be the case when it comes to riding on an airplane or swimming in a pool. The same personal luxury can easily extend to food, costing far less than owning a private jet. Catering to groups of two to 14-plus, these restaurants can make a celebratory event a memorable one...or just eliminate that bourgeois wait for a table.
Dine on sushi for six at Kamehachi (Old Town), Kamehachi (Streeterville) or Kamehachi (Northbrook)
Two locations of this Chicago chain, which bills itself as the first spot to score sushi in the city, offer private rooms for your maki mayhem. Expect a traditional tatami setting (though it looks like you're sitting on the floor, a cutout below the table gives your legs plenty of dangling room) that can hold up to eight in Old Town, where diners have access to a private music system and TV ($30 for three hours). Throw on some Bjork or the Bears to set the mood for your meal, ordered from the regular menu with items like AAC Maki (asparagus, avocado and cucumber). Streeterville's three rooms can accommodate two to four, six to 16 and up to 35, respectively. Room charges run $10-$50. In Northbrook, you can take advantage of shoji screens to accomodate as many as 45 people. Book at least 36 hours in advance in all cases.
Celebrate over farm-fresh fine dining at aria
Chef Brad Parsons's globally inspired cuisine, much of it made from ingredients culled from the Green City Market, is perfect for any celebration, especially those involving your closest friends. Glass doors create a private space that seats up to 10; it's recommended that the host works with a manager to create a set menu and a pre-selected wine option for large groups. With dishes like golden and red baby beet salad, orange salmon and Thai lemongrass creme brulee, you won't hesitate to make your dinner a six-course one. A semi-private chef's table option, where you tour the kitchen and dine with Chef Leon Gunn, is available for groups of six to eight.
Do it dining room-style at Devon Seafood Grill
They may not be entirely closed off, but the semi-private alcoves here rock, feeling more like a hip dining room out of a Pottery Barn catalog than a sterile extra space. Two rooms seat four each for a lovely small-group setting; the other two seat up to 10 for a dinner of grilled Bay of Fundy salmon and potato-wrapped grouper. The only trick is that you can request the rooms but they aren't guaranteed, so it's a bit of a gamble. If you're not into spontaneous group dining, reserve the wine room, which can seat 22, or the Bernadine Room, which seats up to 66 with the optional A/V equipment and up to 80 without it. You can choose from one of the pre-designed banquet menus or work with the executive chef to design a custom menu.
Host your own salon at Brasserie Jo
This French restaurant's wine rooms seat up to 20 guests in spaces flanked by Brasserie Jo's wine storage. If that doesn't entice you to pop open a few bottles of Bordeaux, nothing will (though the beer list is a tempting one). Order straight from the menu's plats principaux, with items like classic steak frites and an awesome sauteed skate wing, or you can customize a menu for your group. For bigger parties, try the Salon Prive, which accommodates up to 135 people. Or heck, rent out the whole restaurant, which holds as many as 300 people.
More private dining:
Parties of eight to 14 can dine on a "Chinese with modern presentations" menu (and enjoy audiovisual presentations, if that's your thing) in the fully enclosed Banquet Room.
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
The Nautical Room accommodates smaller parties of about 10 for a classed-up meal of Irish bistro fare. A room fee may apply.
Want a wine-, cheese- and chocolate-filled girls night out? This semi-private space, a long wooden table off the main area, can seat up to 10. A minimum charge will apply.
Fulton's on the River
This riverside restaurant caters to plenty of large groups (anywhere from 60-330 people), but you and your nine closest friends can dine on seafood among vintage selections in the Wine Room.
Looking to party? Check out these fine holiday party spots.