Maxwell's is one of River North's true hidden restaurant gems

Tucked away on a quiet corner in River North is one of the best “hidden gem” restaurants in the city. Maxwell’s At The Club is the restaurant in the lobby of the East Bank Club at 500 N. Kingsbury Street (the corner of Kinzie and Kingsbury). Most people assume that you have to be a member of the club to eat there, but that’s not the case. Maxwell’s is open to the public and should certainly be on your “must try” list.

Members of the East Bank Club demand the best, and Maxwell’s provides that. For the general public, the greatest benefit is the restaurant’s location. The club subsidizes many of the overhead costs of the restaurant, so they are able to keep food costs at a very reasonable level. Many of the superb items on the Maxwell’s menu would cost much more at another location and I think you will be happily surprised at both the quality and the cost.

I was recently invited to sample the Maxwell’s menu and I was highly impressed on many counts.  First, in addition to the food, Maxwell’s features live music in the bar nightly, Tuesday through Friday, 5:30 to 9:30. Second, the menu leans in the direction of healthier options as part of the club’s desire to provide the members with something special that also ties in with the atmosphere of a health club. By no means is this all a “low calorie” menu, but many of the items are available with alternative preparation and substituted ingredients to accommodate many different types of healthy diets. Finally, the food is simply awesome – superlative quality at a wonderful price.

Upon being seated, the server brough a plate of marinated olives, fresh carrots, and fresh celery – a nice difference from some of the heavier items that often get whisked to your table to ‘fill you up’ before a meal.  I started the meal with three of the Grilled Oysters. You order these by the piece, so you can sample as many as you like. Honestly, they were so good that I could have just ordered a dozen or so and been happy. The oysters are seasoned, then placed on the grill so that they have an ever-so-slight smokiness added to the other excellent layers of flavor.

For a second appetizer, I opted for the Grilled Artichokes. My server offered me two options: either just grilled with some lemon or grilled with parmesan and butter. Ha! No choice for me (I opted for the latter), but if you’re leaning towards a lower-calorie diet then this would be a nice option for you. I love artichokes, and this is one of the best preparations I have tried. It’s more than just the hearts, including the tender inner leaves as well.

As an entree I went for the Cedar-Planked Salmon served with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. The salmon was prepared perfectly – slightly crunchy on the outside, yet plump and tender at the same time. The preparation was simple and allowed the native flavor of the high-quality salmon to shine through. The Brussels sprouts were a nice, slightly bitter complement to the subtle sweetness of the salmon.

The wine list is quite extensive but not overwhelming. Servers are tremendously knowledgeable about pairings, so feel free to ask them for advice. I had two wonderful wine pairings which went perfectly with my meal.

Maxwell’s also offers some excellent weekly specials, including Twin Lobster Tails on Tuesdays for $38.50; Three Small Plates for $24 on Wednesdays; Prime Rib for $22 (regular cut) or $26 (king cut) on Thursdays; an Italian buffet for $28 on Fridays with children 10 and under for only $12; and a phenomenal brunch on Sundays for only $24 (adult), $12 (children ages 7 – 10), $6 (children ages 4 – 6), and children under age 3 free.

Maxwell’s at the Club is located in Chicago’s East Bank Club at 500 N. Kingsbury Street. It is open weekdays for lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. for dinner. The bar/lounge area is open 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Maxwell’s serves brunch every Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  They are closed on Saturdays. Valet parking is available across the street. For more information, please visit their website or call (312) 527-5800, ext. 301.

Photos courtesy of Kurman Communications.






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