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The Chicago Traveler

Water Works

by Matt B on May 21st, 2007

Just below the Clark Street bridge in River North, you’ll find a cool riverside restaurant, Flatwater. (”Flatwater” refers to certain wake-free sections of the Chicago River, where drivers are asked to cool their boats’ engines in order to preserve the calm.) A street-level elevator in a former bridge house descends to the dimly lit lounge with varnished dark wood paneling and peach-colored stone walls. Complete with magnificent views of the city, a lower-level patio right on the river’s edge, and a rooftop terrace caf', this casually elegant eatery is certainly a summer sizzler.


Pull up along the 400 feet of docking space, and hop right off your boat to grab a frozen drink at the 50-foot indoor-outdoor bar. Enjoy the seafood-focused fare, featuring delicious choices like salmon Carpaccio and shrimp carbonara. The menu includes starters like baked Brie with Indian seasoning and features other global choices like boneless jerk wings, coconut-cashew chicken curry, seafood ceviche, and a Thai chicken wrap, plus American fare like burgers and a BLT. The riverside patio is perfect for al fresco dining, but when Chicago’s chilly temperatures settle in, you can warm up in the restaurant’s inviting dining room, complete with banquettes and a fireplace and enjoy views of the Chicago River through large bay windows.

Right off Division Street in the Ukrainian Village is Bravo, a tri-level tapas place that’s usually packed with satisfied customers and has become quite the scene for sipping sangria, mojitos, or one of 55 wines and doing some people-watching. Bravo stands out with a neon sign, modern fa'ade, and sizeable outdoor patio. This flashy multi-level space is fitted with a 26-foot high fountain wall and features deejays with live latin jazz to compliment the Spanish cuisine.

The specialty at Bravo is the seafood paella, a popular Spanish rice dish, but the menu also includes choices like chicken empanadas, herb-marinated grilled octopus, and house-made sausage with Spanish peppers. Most tables start with Salcisson'a serving of chorizo and blood sausage served with chili crema. Shrimp is available in several forms; including marinated, grilled, and tossed with crispy Serrano ham; or seared crisp and finished with white wine and garlic. The ceviche is delightful: scallops, shrimp, and tilapia cooked in lime juice and served in a creamy chipotle aioli sauce. Other memorable dishes include dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon in a tomato sauce, and smoked salmon with parsley, blueberries, capers, and roasted pecans.

For a great after-dinner drink, head to Old Town’s nightclub, Stone Lotus. It’s not just a bar, it’s a liquor spa, where pampering and partying go hand in hand. Luxury and hospitality are the focus, and there’s even an on-staff concierge, available to handle your special requests. A 60-foot water wall, bamboo, aromatherapy, wenge wood, and in-case cherry blossoms add serenity to this nightclub’s ambience.

If you’re looking for prime service, liquor can be paired with small plates of food tailor-made for each spirit. The menu is all about great pairings: a bottle of 10 Cane Rum is accompanied by hibiscus soda, plantain chips, and jerk shrimp. Champagne is escorted by apricot sirop, licorice sugar, and rosewater essence. Vodka, served frozen, comes with smoked salmon and cr'me fraiche alongside citrus-braised fennel and baby beets. This long and narrow space fills up fast, so call ahead for reservations or be prepared to wait. Even the stylish guests waiting in line though will benefit from the hospitality, served complimentary hot cocoa in the winter or bottled water in the summer.

Photo credit: Luis Acuna c/o SXC

Flatwater ($): 321 N Clark St; 312-644-0283
Mon - Fri: 7:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Sat: 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Sun: 9:00 a.m. - 12 midnight
(Kitchen closes at midnight)
Street parking difficult; valet available ($11)
Public Trans: Bus # 22 or Red/Brown/Green/Orange/Purple/Pink Line train (State/Lake)

Bravo ($$): 2047 W Division St; 773-278-2727
Mon - Fri: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.
Sun: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Street parking difficult; valet available
Public Trans: Bus # 50, 70 or Blue Line train (Division, Damen)

Stone Lotus ($$): 873 N Orleans St; 312-440-9680
Tues - Fri: 9:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Sat: 9:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m.
Valet available
Public Trans: Bus # 22, 66, 70 or Brown/Purple/Red Line train (Chicago)

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POSTED IN: Bars and Clubs, Restaurants

5 opinions for Water Works

  • Chicago’s Top Chef
    Jun 23, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    […] had his fair share of challenges, working in several Chicago restaurants and eateries, including Stone Lotus. But he’s never faced the kind of stress he’s got now as a contestant on the third […]

  • Crust
    Jul 31, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    […] off the beaten path, a pizza place many folks may not be familiar with. Just a few doors down from Bravo, Crust is the first certified organic restaurant in Chicago, meaning that at least 95 percent of […]

  • Chicago Latino
    Oct 16, 2007 at 12:05 am

    […] Water Works: Enjoy some sangria, tapas, and live latin jazz on one of the three levels of […]

  • 321 North Clark
    Dec 17, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    […] meant to be one of a pair. Offices in this building have great views of the lake, river, and city. (Flatwater, a seafood-focused restaurant, sits in this tower on the river's […]

  • Smokers’ Sanctuary
    Jan 11, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    […] ' Stone Lotus: This premium-service lounge is, as usual, finding ways to please everyone. First, it's getting new furniture and carpeting, so there's no worries of smoke-'stained' fabrics. Then they'll be opening a new outdoor smoking area complete with heat lamps (sponsored by Camel) and accessible only through a devoted entrance, making it easier for patrons to exit and re-enter. (map) (link) […]

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