After 17 Months, Cherry Circle Room to Reopen Inside Chicago Athletic Association

For the last 17 months, Cherry Circle Room has remained closed inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (CAA) off of Michigan Avenue; the windowless dining room wasn’t ideal for adhering to pandemic safety best practices. But as fall arrives, the hibernation will finally come to an end on Friday, September 24 when Land & Sea Dept. reopens the restaurant with a new menu and a new team.

The CAA features a variety of bars and restaurants — including Cindy’s Rooftop — which have only reopened recently. Land & Sea partner Pete Toalson says, via email, that they intentionally decided to incrementally reopen. The hotel started taking reservations for guests before it reopened its second floor, home of Cherry Circle Room and other venues.

“We started with the Game Room, then focused on the Drawing Room,” Toalson writes. “We just opened Milk Room a couple of weeks ago, and have spent the last month focusing on developing menus and training staff for the reopening of the Cherry Circle Room.”

Steak tartare

Steak tartare
Land & Sea Dept./Clayton Hauck

The restaurant’s space is heavy on dark woods with a vintage sports club feel that beckons for steakhouse favorites like a 22-ounce and 30-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye ($95). The restaurant’s steak tartare and shrimp cocktail are other holdovers from the pre-pandemic menu. The restaurant will be initially open for dinner only for five days a week.

Cherry Circle has a few notable additions to its staff which paves the way for new menu items. Alisha Elenz, a 2019 James Beard Award nominee for Rising Star while working at Mfk in Lakeview and Bar Biscay in West Town, is the new executive sous chef. Most recently at Goddess & the Grocer, Elenz is joined by Jacob Sloan (W, Soho House) and new sommelier Anika Ellison (Spiaggia). Land & Sea also promoted Rosie Estrada as executive pastry chef, which gives the restaurant continuity. They’ll all work under Land & Sea’s Director of Culinary Operations Max Robbins, who’s also the executive chef at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square.

New menu highlights include a while-roasted Mediterranean sea bass, duck leg confit, and a mushroom linguine that uses cashews to emulate cacio e pepe.

Cheese covered in basil leaves

Handmade burrata
Land & Sea Dept./Clayton Hauck

The restaurant’s bar cart, a service component that many restaurants held back during the heart of the pandemic, is back and specializing in Wisconsin supper club Old Fashioneds. The overall cocktail program takes inspiration from The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book with Amendments Due to Repeal of the XVIIIth, a venerable book that dates back to 1934.

Cherry Circle’s return follows other reopenings. Earlier this month, Land & Sea reopened cocktail bar Lost Lake in Logan Square with a new drink menu that steers the bar into a new direction with its signature tiki drinks.

Take a look at the menu below. Cherry Circle Room returns on Friday.

Cherry Circle Room, inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Avenue, open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations via Resy.

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