Sometimes I just want to be heard.

I’m exhausted from dining out in of-the-moment restaurants and shouting “conversations” at my dining partner. True story: A few summers ago, we were dining in a then-new, pricey Fulton Market restaurant with friends, and the music was so egregiously loud that we asked the hostess if it could be turned down a bit. Her reply — “The chef likes it that way” — was unsatisfactory at best, even though she seemed embarrassed to relate that information to a paying customer. All around us, millennials were screaming happily at each other as they methodically polished off the (admittedly scrumptious) fried chicken. My husband the tech whiz immediately downloaded a sound-level meter app and took a reading, which was the equivalent of a plane landing. So the restaurant sound pollution has gotten a little out of hand, no?

Aside from having an actual dialogue with my dining companions, I have a confession to make. I love children. I do. But it does not enhance the dining experience to have children playing tag in between the tables, or crying because they are (justifiably) bored/ignored at a restaurant that is clearly not intended for them. One night I saw a 3-year-old boy lie down next to the table while the oblivious parents finished a bottle of wine. This forced a polite attempt by the maître d’ to request the parents to retrieve their child for the safety of all involved. Predictably, the parents were outraged by this suggestion of negligence, although last time I checked, the one thing not provided by the restaurant is a babysitting service. I hope they tipped bigly.

And guess what? You’re paying good money for a dining-out experience. It’s not enough for the food to be spectacular or the atmosphere buzz-worthy. That doesn’t make up for a lack of civility. Fear not, because there are still a number of restaurants in Chicagoland where one can dine in relatively quiet splendor. So, arm yourself with this list, and schedule that business meal. Dine with your friends (or parents!) of a certain age. Enjoy the company and adult conversation of your companions. Listen, and be heard. What a revelation.


There are many reasons why Chef Jean Joho’s elegant culinary aerie has stood the test of time, chief among them the consistent excellence of food, wine, and service — and the astounding view looking west over Chicagoland from high above the Loop. The art-filled room is one of Chicago’s most romantic; countless proposals have taken place here, fueled by the fine wine list stocked with Joho’s Alsatian favorites and your choice of three- or four-course prix-fixe menu, or a set seven-course degustation. Traditional French dishes find new life here, and so will you.