The first time you go to the 3 Arts Club Cafe it’s, in a word, intimidating. The cafe itself is smack dab inside Restoration Hardware, a luxury home furnishings store hidden along the neighborhood streets of Gold Coast. This isn’t unusual for this area — the original Playboy mansion and a men’s-only cigar club are within blocks yet tricky to find in the same way.
RH itself is set up like a museum, with every floor boasting more glamour than the next. Looking for a 1920s Odeon Clear Glass Fringe Collection Chandelier? Look no further. Restoration Hardware can show you an array of options.
Since clearly I’m in no position to buy a $3000 light fixture (“plasma donation” is in my top Google searches), I stick to the food at 3 Arts Club Cafe, the breathtakingly stunning restaurant located on the first floor.
So let’s get back to that intimidation factor, shall we?
Let’s be frank. I shouldn’t be welcome in a place like this. I’m in Nikes 95% of the time and dressing up in my world is putting on some faux leather leggings and throwing on my Vans. This is the courtyard where Giuliana Rancic and Kristin Cavallari take business meetings and sip on almond milk lattes. I loudly snort when I laugh and like to eat with my legs crossed pretzel-style on the furniture. So I DEFINTELY shouldn’t be welcome in a place like this.
But I’m welcome here.
Both times I’ve gone to 3 Arts Club Cafe I’ve expected to be met with some sort of up-and-down look, examining if I had anything dirty on my hands that might ruin the furniture. But both times I’ve been greeted so beautifully and with such professionalism that it almost feels like I’m coming home to dine in my own courtyard (dream big, Lauren).
The breakfast here is limited but delicious. You can sample treats from Doughnut Vault, dive into some local yogurt topped with house-made granola, or pick something more savory. I was seated next to the fountain and my companion and I both quickly ordered lattes. I’m a sucker for some latte art and wanted to see if theirs was up to snuff.
Alright I’ve seen better. But in all fairness we were the first ones there so this was probably the barista’s warm-up round.
The breakfast, on the other hand, was quite impressive. Buttery Texas toast served alongside half an avocado and scrambled eggs prepared with crème fraîche. Clean-cut, simple, filling, and delicious.
Chives on chives on chives.
(Sidenote: is there just a basket full of perfectly ripe avocados sitting in the kitchen? Because this avocado was perfect. And I can’t imagine they were like “You know who should get our best avocado? THAT girl).
I went back yesterday for a late lunch with my Chicago compadres and foodies-in-crime Susie and Erin. Since it was my second time there I walked in with experienced swagger, and was met with the same friendly faces as the first. But this time I’m sure I looked a little less “deer in the headlights” and a little more “yep – I’m here – feed me.”
The lunch menu is much more extensive, with plenty of salads, vegetable plates, cheese boards, and entrees to choose from. We went back and forth for awhile before settling on the grilled cheese, because I’ve heard rumblings that it’s one of the best grilled cheeses in the city.
Yeah it was unreal. I definitely should have gone with the side salad instead of french fries because the grilled cheese itself was pure decadence. House-made sourdough bread is stuffed with perfectly melty cheddar and infused with aromatic truffle butter that makes savoring the sandwich in small bites an almost impossible task. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. Not to mention that it was served with my very own baby ketchup bottle! Why is everything cuter in mini form?
Erin is on her never-ending quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie in Chicago so I graciously volunteered to help with her research. I also learned that she is that weirdo who thinks the undercooked part of the cookie is the worst part. I’m not sure I like the way she was raised.
Bloggers taking pictures of bloggers taking pictures of bloggers taking pictures of food.
Blogging is so #meta.
To sum it up, 3 Arts Club Cafe is a treat. It’s the adult version of playing dress-up. I haven’t been this excited about a furniture store since 1998 when my brother and I would jump from bed to bed inside our local Macy’s, amid the glares of employees and our mother. Maybe if they’d handed us truffle butter grilled cheese we would have behaved better. Just saying.
I can only imagine the difficulty of getting a table on a Sunday morning, so I’ll stick to my weekday dates here. But I will be back often.
3 Arts Club Cafe
1300 N Dearborn Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60610