The Social Lounge is open. | Four Seasons
The Social Lounge is part of a huge renovation project at the Four Seasons Chicago
The Four Seasons Hotel on Michigan Avenue underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2020 but the public is only now getting a glimpse of some of those changes due to the pandemic. Adorn, the restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Cleveland chef Jonathon Sawyer — which replaced seven-year-old Allium — briefly opened in October 2020 before shuttering due to the indoor dining ban and then restarting in April. Its companion concept Social Lounge finally debuted over the weekend, just in time for Thanksgiving.
“It’ll be a complement to Adorn as opposed to competition,” Four Seasons director of food and beverage Justin Yu says. “This is going to be a place for people to come have cocktails, canapes, and a glass of champagne before the theater or dinner as opposed to a full meal.”
The lounge features gray pillow-strewn couches with low and long marble tables for relaxed gatherings plus armchairs and small tables for holding a drink. Walls are lined with photos depicting long hallways that give an illusion of more space. Musicians and DJs provide a varied soundtrack ranging from jazz to house that’s meant to celebrate the city’s musical history.
“Sometimes when you think of luxury hotels, you think they’re more stuffy or more formal,” Yu says. “We wanted to break that barrier so we have this lounge seating that’s very comfortable for people.”
The small silver bar pours prosecco, cava and champagne, plus two cocktails from mixologist Slava Borisov. “The Don’t Waste My Thyme” is a warm blend of housemade huckleberry thyme cordial, gin, thyme and rose hip bitters, while the “‘Pop’ Star Martini” features a mix of vodka, elderflower liqueur, vanilla, and passionfruit syrup accompanies by a shot of champagne and a plate of passion fruit pearls to tie into the caviar menu.
The reservation-only Social Lounge also offers a tiered caviar service where the roe is placed in ice with a mother of pearl serving spoon at the bottom and the other layers feature a mix of accompaniments including crumbled sous vide eggs, tiny brioche loaves, champagne potato chips, and jamon. Diners just wanting to taste a bit of caviar can instead opt for a buckwheat cone stuffed with burrata and golden Kaluga served on a bed of rosehip leaves or a potato chip topped with creme fraiche, jamon iberico and golden Kaluga.
“We want to be sure it’s an approachable way to introduce people who might not have had a chance to enjoy caviar, but for the traditionalists we have our caviar service, so it’s a little bit of both worlds,” Yu says.
The menu also features the Petite Vegetable Garden, a spin on crudite where broccoli, cucumber and other vegetables are accompanied by a dip made from ricotta that forms a soil topped with beech mushrooms, crispy kale and soy and shallot “caviar.” Sawyer is celebrating the 15th birthday of Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture with a tiny version made from foie gras torchon covered in edible silver and served with spicy honey, vinegar pearls and brioche.
“You take the idea of hosting a cocktail party and you do little bites for your guests as they enter your home,” Yu says. “That was our concept for the Social Lounge. This is the heart of our home. When you come in, we want you to have just a light bite.”
On the sweet side is a box of four dessert pops from pastry chef Juan Gutierrez, who will appear on Netflix’s new School of Chocolate competition show launching November 26. The bites include passionfruit cheesecake and a swirl of ruby strawberry chocolate.
Social Lounge also hosts tea service, offering a selection of 25 varieties from Rare Tea Cellars alongside bites from Gutierrez and executive chef Tristan Baker. While caviar service will always remain on the menu, Yu says that the rest of the selection will change seasonally and that the lounge’s hours of operation may also expand as the hotel continues to return to pre-pandemic operations.
Social Lounge, inside the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place, open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, reservations required via Tock.