You can't find a bad seat at the Westin Hotel's Ember Grille, where rows of windows overlook a Zen-inspired garden and the glittering Chicago River. Do reserve some attention for what's happening inside, though; this place has a pretty swell interior. Open, airy and elegant, Ember Grille's light wood, circular white lanterns and chandelier of melted candles create an Aspen-cabin-meets-luxury-spa vibe.
Chef Joseph Rose cooks up (well, grills up) a seasonal menu of American fare. At noontime nosh on fancy flat breads in flavors like wild mushroom with caramelized onion and truffle oil, roasted pork paninis and grilled salmon with roasted spinach; all lunches are $13 and come with the soup of the day.
At dinner Rose proves his chops with a variety of down-to-business cuts. Prices range from $28 for the seven-ounce prime filet of beef to $65 for the surf and turf. Saucy meat companions include peppercorn mustard jus and Maytag blue cheese sauce. Seafood stalwarts will love butter-poached lobster tail served with cream of coconut, curry and lemongrass, while meat-finicky foodies should (why not?) head straight for the "accessories" section: The $6 dishes include mac n' cheese and truffle & roasted-cauliflower gratin. The more than 150-strong wine selection offers picks from New Zealand and Napa Valley.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg