676 Restaurant and Bar in the Omni Hotel on Michigan Ave. expanded last week and opened a sidewalk cafe — Cafe 676 — so that those wandering the Magnificent Mile can now take a load off and grab an affordable lunch or dinner, all while sipping a excellent watermelon lemonade and soaking up some rays.
You might think this is a spot for tourists, but Executive Chef Daven Wardynski is so eager to have locals sample his farm-to-table creations that he’ll knock 15 percent off your bill when you identify yourself as being from the neighborhood. And I think his food is worth trying.
We stated with an heirloom tomato tapenade, made from tomatoes grown on the hotel rooftop, Spence Farm sweet corn soup, and a plate of blue cheese served with watermelon pickles. Although the tomato preparation had a tad too much vinegar for our taste, it was obviously fresh. The cheese and watermelon pickles complemented each other perfectly and were the table favorite.
For our main courses we tried the grilled walleye pike sandwich served with house pickle, spicy tomato, and snow pea-cucumber slaw on an onion roll, and the black and blue salad — blackened beef served with tomato, red onion, and Goose Island beer-blue cheese vin. The steak salad was nothing special, but the walleye pike sandwich was wonderful. The snow pea slaw makes the dish, adding just the right creamy crunch. This sandwich is messy though — there’s absolutely no way to eat it nicely — so it’s no date food. But it’s a worthy mess.
We topped off our meal with fresh honey ice cream with cinnamon crunch… a delectable finish.
The outdoor space itself is on Huron, slightly removed from the shopping madness, and it’s a nice set-up with plenty of space between tables. That, coupled with attentive service and a price tag of nine to 11 dollars an entree makes this a nice summer stop.
676 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Phone: (312) 944-6664