You’ve heard us talking about doing more in-depth dining reviews for long enough. Well, here comes our first one for 2023! As a huge symphony lover, we’ve been waiting to dine at Forte, a new addition to Chicago Symphony Center. Featuring innovative Mediterranean flavor, craft cocktails, and a curated global wine program, Forte is the perfect place for a light meal before the concert, or a specially-planned date night dinner.
See below for our editor’s rating for Forte:
Keep reading for a detailed breakdown!
Fresh and open is our first impression as we stepped into Forte’s space. Having been so used to the dark interiors most bars and restaurants we’ve been to lately, it was a nice change of view to see Forte’s bright interior. However, we were hoping to see something slightly more daring given the fact it’s located inside the Symphony center or more elements related to the music theme. Therefore, we give the interior and ambiance a fair three-star. It’s nice, it’s comfortable, and sometimes that’s all we need from a restaurant space.
Hands down, the food was insanely delicious. We started with Eggplant Capotana, and that turned out to be a great choice because we came in on a messy, rainy day, and the tart roasted tomato, refreshing basil, and breezy pine nuts were exactly what we needed to set our mood right. The plate was also spicier than anticipated, which is a bonus for us who love a kick in our food. And we absolutely loved the Spanish Octopus, perfectly paired with confit potatoes, pickled pepper, and salsa verde. We also tried the Rosemary Focaccia and enjoyed it fully.
Now, we will say the small plates outshone the entrees. For the main course, we chose Duck Fesenjan and the Rigatoni. The Duck Fesenjan was light in flavor. We did, however, enjoy how the chef incorporated fig jam into the dish. Meanwhile, the Rigatoni was classic: nothing wrong, but nothing too impressive either. Do note that the flavor leans sweet on both items. So, if you prefer stronger, more savory flavors, definitely choose something different.
Forte’s drink program is definitely one of the best in the area. Their craft cocktails are rich and tasty. Whether you’re a sweet drinker or prefer tasting your spirits, Forte’s has the right cocktail for you. Meanwhile, wine lovers are about to walk into heaven with Forte’s curated global wine list. To keep things fun, Forte also rotates their drink menu featuring seasonal cocktails and wine picks for special occasions.
Overall, we had a fantastic experience. Regardless of the nasty weather, the staff was sweet and the service was attentive. Sometimes the wait is longer between food and drinks, but that’s not a deal breaker. The servers are knowledgeable when it comes to their food and beverage menu, so feel free to ask for recommendations. Additionally, there is also a concert bar full of snacks ranging from gourmet popcorn to limited edition chocolate bars if you need to grab something quick before the show starts.
Yay or Nay?
First of all, I can’t imagine how bad things need to be for me to publish a “nay” review. Overall, I’d say it’s definitely worth planning a before-the-show meal at Forte. They’ve also recently updated their happy hour program with some really good deals, perfect for those who’d rather try a few different small plates and sip on $10 Espresso Martinis. Down the road, we’re excited to see Forte coming up with seasonal drinks, more engaging programmings, and even ticketed dining experiences, because we definitely see the potential of all of the above in this space.
Featured Image: Forte