Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
The J. Parker opened on the 13th floor of Hotel Lincoln in the summer, and the lounge quickly became known for having one of the most dramatic rooftop decks in the city (mostly thanks unobstructed views of Lincoln Park, the lake, and the skyscrapers of River North). While the beverage director Erin Hayes put together an impressive drink list, the food menu basically tried to stay out of the way. In fact, guests were supposed to mix and match items from different categories to create their own dish. But now that summer is long gone, and the outdoor space no longer of much use, the J. Parker decided that it wanted to be both a great place to drink and a destination spot for dinner.
To do that, chef Paul Virant created a new menu of composed dishes. Like Perennial Virant, his excellent restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, it features a mix of fresh vegetables, pickled things, and local meat and fish. But what differentiates J. Parker is its focus on small plates, which also means that it is now the most approachable and affordable way to experience Virant's cooking.
We took the elevator up to the 13th floor to check out some of the new dishes you'll be able to find at J. Parker. Check them all out on the slideshow.