Cité in Chicago, IL has been recognized as a DiRōNA Awarded restaurant since 2004!
At “Cité Elegant Dining at the Top of Lake Point Tower” in Chicago, captains find it hard to hold the guests’ attention. The reason? The most stunning panoramic views of the city and the lakefront. Perched atop one of the tallest residential buildings in the world, and set apart from the city skyline on a Lake Michigan peninsula, Cité offers diners a 360º view that takes in the skyscrapers and a lakefront spanning over three states!
But the magnificent view is only a small part of making the landmark restaurant into a world-class establishment. The largest part is intense, meticulous planning and implementation. Designed and built as an exclusive private club for the residents of Lake Point Tower, the restaurant was initially intended to support an intimate lounge trade.
When it first opened to the public the facility had a remarkable view but lacked the “personality” to compete with other upscale restaurants in the city. Evangeline Gouletas, known to all simply as “Evangeline,” decided to make the restaurant the ultimate dining experience. “In all my travels throughout the world,” she said, “certain restaurants have stood out as the ultimate – whether in style, service or exceptional cuisine. Each one reflects a commitment by the owner to be the very best…and each restaurant makes the owner’s own personality and sense of style available to public view.”
Evangeline, whose personal flair and style have gathered notice in society pages throughout the U.S. and Europe, makes that personal commitment to high style every day and demanded the same from her restaurant. Evangeline’s attention to detail began the day she first entered the restaurant. “The view was more stunning than any I had ever seen anywhere in the world… In order to make Cité Elegant Dining the absolute best, I had to mentally ‘close the drapes’ and pretend there was no view at all.”
Without the dramatic skyline and lakefront views, she examined every facet of the restaurant’s operation and immediately began to add her signature of elegance and grace. Under her personal supervision, interior designer Norman de Hann redesigned the entire facility, starting with a revamp of the kitchen and including the banquet area, lounge, bar, and dining rooms. Although the logistics of installing state-of-the-art equipment in a kitchen 70 stories above street level was daunting, it transformed the facility into a totally equipped full-service kitchen capable of handling both private groups and individual diners.
While the behind-the-scenes remodeling was a technological feat, the transformation of the intimate dining area of the restaurant was nothing short of miraculous. Using her experience as a patron of the finest restaurants around the world, Evangeline created a dazzling ambiance for her guests. Using a blend of warm traditional high-quality materials and contemporary design, she established a mood that works both, for daytime and evening dining. Light oak wood molding surrounds walls of beveled bronze and silver mirrors and polished copper and steel trim capture the light and glow with a soft charm.
During the day, the effect of the mirrors creates thousands of rainbow fragments of sunlight that will fill the restaurant with a sparkle unlike any other. Nighttime diners discover a totally different ambiance as the mirrors capture the warmth of candlelight and bathe guests in a golden glow. The elegant golden drama is an excellent counterpoint to the scene outside the windows as the city scene stretches for miles in a grid of golden streetlights.
The strong design statement that Evangeline implemented was not only meant for the guests, however. As a former administrator and mathematician, she understood the importance of a logistics system that would make working in the restaurant easier for employees. The fact that she was able to incorporate a streamlined traffic flow for guests and waiters is an inevitable plus for diners, but a true blessing for the restaurant staff!
Satisfied with the physical ambiance of Cité Elegant Dining at the Top of Lake Point Tower, Evangeline turned her attention to the human side of the dining experience. According to her, “People make a restaurant successful. From the Maître D’ to the busboys, everyone must feel that their job is absolutely important to the guests’ ambiance and everyone must know that the guests’ experience is our ultimate goal.”
Executive Chef Oscar Ornelas is a dynamic Chef in charge of all the culinary creations of Cite. This dynamic and experienced Chef not only had the training and experience to create an amazing culinary experience for the most challenging aficionados but also understood the business of restaurant cooking having been involved in the restaurant industry since a very young age.
Evangeline’s instructions to him were simple, yet challenging. She wanted a menu that would reflect classic dining yet avoid the “trend” cooking that labeled so many restaurants. Responding to the challenge, Chef Oscar devised a menu that has been called “American classic with a French flair.” Guests now enjoy such gastronomic creations as Chef Oscar’s Roasted Rack of Lamb, Fruit De Mar Risotto, Silky-Smooth Veal, and Butter-Poached Lobster.
Details, Details, Details…! Once the basic format of the restaurant was established, it was only a matter of staying on top of details, according to Evangeline. While that may seem like a small matter, it’s stunning when you observe the myriad of details that capture her personal attention. Absolutely nothing escapes Evangeline’s attention, as she sits at one of the restaurant’s elegant booths. Her dark eyes sparkle as she speaks, and it’s obvious that she knows everything that is going on around her, and this pleases her.
“There is no substitution for perfection; nothing is ‘good enough.’ If it is not the best we can do, we should not do it!” she exclaims. That attitude is evident in her choice of personnel to oversee the restaurant when she is attending to business in New York or Miami.
Asked to sum up her approach to creating the ultimate dining experience, Evangeline leans back in the mirror-lined booth and gazes at the city reflected in the beveled panes. Dusk is falling and the sky has painted an abstract of vivid reds and majestic purples outside and repeated its beauty in the candlelit booth. It is a scene that has dazzled guests like Anthony Quinn, Brook Shields, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Joe Montana, Oprah, to name just a few Cité celebrity patrons.
“Every guest at Cité Elegant Dining is a guest of honor. It is a matter of fact in Greece, my native country, to present your very best to the friends you invite into your home. That has been my legacy and heritage and guiding principle: honor your guests as you would in your home.” The best of the best for your friends. As the city below begins to twinkle and the warmth of Cité Elegant Dining begins to surround you in a golden glow, it is at once obvious. The magnificent view comes not from the windows, but from the heart!