Just how good is the food and drink at GreenRiver, a restaurant and cocktail lounge located on the 18th floor of Northwestern Medicine's new outpatient pavilion in Chicago? Good enough to draw a flurry of kudos from local and national press, which already have made the unusually placed dining establishment a tough place to land a table despite having just opened in September.

Those who secure spots at the leased-out operation are often hospital staff or locals (and sometimes health care journalists) who will find nothing close to a cafeteria upon arrival. Instead, a dimly lit hall gives way to an elegant interior with floor-to-ceiling windows, candlelit tables and bustling wait staff.

About the food: The spare dinner menu changes daily, featuring seasonal American food with rich staples, such as a perfectly seared foie gras and bread pudding appetizer with bright notes of cranberry for balance. If the spaghetti with saffron and uni entree is too extravagant, diners can find comfort in an artfully plated Cornish hen — or just order a cheeseburger. Seafood lovers may choose from sturgeon, oysters, lobster and tuna crudo, the latter lush, with subtle flavors of blood orange and black truffle, while steak fans should know that GreenRiver serves cuts from the highly regarded Slagel Family Farm.

The dishes' price points are on par with nearby restaurants of their ilk, $12–25 per plate, and are consistent in their quality.

The cocktails are no afterthought, either: Take the pistachio, rye vodka, beet, horseradish and lemon Hinky Dink, for example. In fact, there are 19 pages of drink options to the dinner menu’s three. The drinks, which are served with hand-chipped ice, are named after historic Irish-Chicago figures and places — such as the Hellcat and Diamond Jim  — which also is the theme behind the establishment's name.

Northwestern Medicine's Gina Weldy, vice president of real estate, says the restaurant, as well as a Stan’s Donuts shop and other retail shops on the ground floor of the building, have been a hit with hospital employees, patients and visitors.

“It has changed the feel in the public space,” Weldy said. “There is a bit more energy now. One of the most important services hospitals provide is to give comfort to its guests, and this has been successful in doing that.”



Clockwise from top left: the bar at GreenRiver accomodates both eating and drinking; rich fois gras is balanced by bread pudding and cranberry; a Cornish hen is served with black trumpet mushrooms and micro greens; cocktails span 19 pages of the menu; the terrace offers guests a place to dine outside. Image credits: Anthony Tahlier and Genevieve Diesing