Planner extraordinaire Rachel De Marte shares her favorite haute spots for party season.
Rachel De Marte.
“In the event world, you’ve got your five senses,” says Rachel De Marte. “Your sixth sense is really where you bring in the [party’s] excitement.” With her larger-than-life personality, the Grosse Pointe, Michigan, native and West Loop resident works behind the scenes to craft Chicago’s most lavish soirées—like a corporate Christmas party for 400 at Salvage One, featuring stations like “Hunter and Game,” with stuffed rabbit loin, Cornish game hens, and venison sausage (“It looked like Ralph Lauren Home for the holidays,” muses De Marte of the scene). As she prepares to help the city’s most chic denizens fête the season, we caught up with the woman-about-town to discover her glam recommendations for fellow gourmands.
“Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-276-7110) I would call ‘winter glam’ because it’s so dark, and they’ve done a great job of creating this cozy, tight-knit atmosphere. It has a different meaning of ‘holiday chic’ that, to me, tailors to the male audience, or the girls [whose] luxe list is fur and cognac, versus other girls who prefer handbags and scarves. They do things like a wild boar Sloppy Joe, and they did a porchetta as a special one night that was insane.
GT Fish & Oyster’s Alaskan halibut with asparagus and roasted tomatoes.
“I love places like GT Fish & Oyster (531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501), and it has its own [fabulous] vibe because [of] the atmosphere, and the food is so clean and delicious. [My favorite dish] goes without saying: lobster roll. They [also] do clam chowder in this little jar with housemade croutons... Stellar. [I order] the oyster po’ boy fried slider every single time. It’s good, happy food.
“Sunda (110 W. Illinois St., 312-644-0500) is a scene, and I actually love that for private dining because they’re really consistent. I love their chef’s table because it is a 60-inch square, and you can literally talk to everyone. I do have a staple: Spicy Tail of Two Tunas, every time, and they have a signature pan-fried sticky rice square with spicy tuna tartare and jalapeño that’s amazing.
The elegant RM Champagne Salon is tucked away at the end of a cobblestone alley.
“There’s nothing else like RM Champagne Salon (116 N. Green St., 312-243-1199). You go into an alley and enter this little environment—the inside is kind of like Anthropologie: It’s got tassels hanging from the ceiling, it’s got this beautiful fireplace, it is tiny, and it’s just lovely. I’ll have a glass of sparkling Berlucchi rosé, and then I segue into one of the cocktails, like Kentucky BBQ or Le Turkel.”