Lyric Opera Chicago Spotlights Dining With New Restaurant

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A huge auditorium with red plush seats.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago has a new restaurant for ticket holders.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The owners of Slightly Toasted have taken over in-house dining at the venerable theater

This holiday season, theater patrons across the country will indulge in yearly tradition that, for many, was disrupted due to the pandemic. Friends, family, and school children indulge in annual viewings of the Nutcracker. This season, patrons at the Lyric Opera Chicago will have access to a remodeled restaurant as the theater debuts a new third-floor venue called Florian from the owners of Slightly Toasted.

The previous tenant, the longer named Florian Opera Bistro, billed itself as a “European-style restaurant” with sandwiches, wraps, coq au vin, and ropa vieja. As the latter is a Cuban speciality, the bistro’s menu from Jewell Events Catering wasn’t especially focused. There’s not a lot of room for kitchen equipment inside the 92-year-old building along Wacker Drive where America’s restaurant industry converges yearly for the James Beard Awards. Due to limitations in ventilation (the kitchen runs on electric, not gas), Toasted Hospitality’s Art Mendoza has elected to focus on dishes like slow-cooked prime rib, Chilean sea bass, and cavatappi with vegetarian bolognese inside the 130-seat space. Customers will be able to reserve pre-show three-course meals and make intermission reservations for dessert, coffee, and cocktails.

Toasted Hospitality operates restaurants Slightly Toasted, Asadito, Wok n’ Bao, and Little Toasted. Mendoza also has plans to open an iteration of Slightly Toasted on the Lyric’s first floor inside the 80-seat space once belonging to the Pedersen Room. He’s aiming to open early next year once downtown traffic picks up. Winter isn’t exactly prime tourist season for Chicago, and COVID-19 reduced business downtown even more.

But Chicago’s theater community, which includes the Lyric, has seen a recent rebirth in the coming months with facilities like the Looking Glass Theater Company, Windy City Theater Playhouse (with an assist from chef Rick Bayless), and Steppenwolf resuming productions. A few restaurants that specialized in serving the theater crowd closed or revamped during the pandemic.

For the Lyric, it was a time to reset its dining options. Mendoza says he planned to open Slightly Toasted before the revamped Florian, but as the pandemic continues those plans were altered.

Take a tour through the space and read the food menu and drink menu below.

Florian, inside the Lyric Opera Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive, open to ticket holders on days of events. Reservations via Tock.

The restaurant is on the third floor.

Lyric Opera

20 N Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606 312 332 2244 Visit Website

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