3 Arts Club Cafe

In a Nutshell: A beautiful, stylish restaurant set in the newly relocated Restoration Hardware in Gold Coast.  Although the hours are limited (opens with the store but closes an hour before), it is a truly fairy tale-like space. With surprisingly robust and tasty food, it is well-worth a stop even if you’re not in the market for any furnishings or home accessories.

Ambiance: Admittedly, when a friend first told me about this space, I was not overly eager to go.  I tend to think that restaurants set inside retail outlets are overpriced, lackluster spots which solely exist because they cater to a highly captive and somewhat defeated audience looking for an escape from retail hell. I went along with the plan to go for dinner because it was centrally located, our group was up for it and when I looked at the photos online, I was a little in awe. The space is downright stunning. The lobby is a bit over the top- all white, low-slung couches, faux fur blankets and pillows. It felt sort of felt like–and I mean this in the nicest way possible–they asked a Real Housewife of (Insert Your Favorite City Here) to put her spin on Aspen-chic. Sort of like glitzy Après-ski, Vegas style. I don’t know.  For whatever that decor is, it fortunately does not extend to the heart of the restaurant.  The dining room is 60% of the reason to go. A soaring glass ceiling, striking chandelier, a fountain, lanterns and a few well-placed trees all blend together to create a very dream-like feel.  The space is at once grand and intimate as the designers carved out secluded spots to give diners private enclaves in what could have been a very cold, cavernous setting.

Beverages: Not horrible but definitely the area most in need of improvement.  Our waitress was very pleasant but stretched far too thin.  For example- the good: we ordered a mix of different appetizers, entrees and sides without realizing that all of the sandwiches come with salads or fries.  Sensing the need to take charge of our somewhat boisterous group, she instantly suggested that we nix our superfluous side orders and parceled out the options that were already included with our meals so we didn’t have the chance to hem and haw.  The not so good: when ordering additional drinks and food, it was sometimes hard to locate her in the massive space and with the staff shortage. Ultimately it meant some orders either did not initially arrive or were confused. My hope is that this young restaurant (opened fall 2015) addresses its popularity by adding more staff (and, if I’m completing my wish list, extends its evening hours- especially Thursday-Saturday).

Drinks: A limited but very serviceable drink menu.  They do a nice job of including reasonable offerings (2 whites at $10 and under, 2 reds at $11 and under) and splurges (a $20+ red & white) and then a range in between. Additionally, though their beer list is compact, they have selected an East Coast, a West Coast and 2 Midwest breweries, with styles ranging from a Pils to a Porter. Beer for beer, their selection is far more balanced than the glut of restaurants who for some time have featured the diverse offerings of “IPA, Imperial IPA, Red IPA, Belgian IPA…”

Food:  I’m not yet sold on Brendan Sodikoff’s finer dining forays but he does “fancy comfort” really, really well.  3 Aces Club Cafe is the perfect representation of that. It features the “RH Burger” which is a near replica of the burger that put Au Cheval on the map (but so, so much easier to get your little hands on!), a decadent grilled cheese, heavenly BLT and a to-die-for burrata plate.  If you’re intent on forgoing this high-caloric fun in search of cleaner living, the arugula salad, charred carrots and fish are excellent options.  Lastly, while I have not yet been for brunch, they do appear to feature the famed Doughnut Vault doughnuts.  Enjoying one of these carb-wonders with a Bellini in this gorgeous room is so much better than lining up on the street with the 50% chance you’ll get to the front of the line only to be told they are sold out.

The Devil’s in the Details:  While the hours might be wonky and the service could use some spiffing up, this is a real gem in the western portion of Gold Coast (a genuine food dessert unless you count the endless offerings of wings, quesadillas and nachos nearby).  Whether you’re actually shopping at Restoration Hardware, or just looking for a striking space with yummy fare away from the food wasteland of Division Street, this is absolutely a treat.

Photo Credit: 3artscafe.com (aerial view);  Jeff Schear/Getty Images North America (evening view)

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