The outdoor bar at I|O is covered by a retractable roof in the winter.
As this intense winter continues, River North’s newest bar and restaurant gives us a reason to stick it out for warmer weather—and a preview of what the summer will look like. I|O Urban Roofscape in the brand new Godfrey Hotel gets its name from its dual indoor-outdoor experience: two bars in two different spaces, a retractable roof, and elemental features that bring the outside in.
With executive chef Riley Huddleston—previously of The Aviary—overseeing both the beverage and culinary programs, it’s no surprise that I|O’s specialty cocktails begin in the kitchen. The chef-created cocktails are made with scientific precision, and almost all are available in both single-glass or pitcher servings. Expect riffs on the classics, like the Chef’s Cosmopolitan, which features Cherry Noir vodka, Cointreau and Cointreau Noir, cranberry, and grapefruit liquor. The Long Beach Tea’s concoction of vodka, tequila, gin, rum, Grand Marnier, sweet and sour, and cranberry will be perfect come summer. Until then, though, we’re opting for the Hot Butter Rum with its winter-apropos mix of Botran Reserva Rum, Cruzan Black Strap Rum, spices, and butter.
Huddelston’s dinner menu is impressive, with dishes like pan-roasted scallops in a brown butter sauce and prime beef Bolognese, but the smaller night bites menu is full of tasty accompaniments for the kitchen cocktails. For example, try Huddleston’s upscale spin on Chicago’s famous pastrami sandwich with spicy pickles, garlic aioli, and aged provolone on toasted sourdough. The truffle mac ‘n’ cheese is another must, with white cheese sauce, thyme, and shaved black truffles. 127 W. Huron St., 312-374-1830