Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
My Arabesque CD is blasting thru my iMac, attempting to put me back in the world of the Alhambra Palace. The music is doing the trick of making me want to dance, but my sage walls are far from the vibrant jeweled tones that seemed to creep from every crevice of Alhmabra.
Alhambra Palace (the real one is in Spain) is the brainchild of Souk’s (Souk is no more) owner, Dr. Naser Rustom, a man whose love for travel, other cultures and music is clearly depicted throughout his new palatial digs. Ok, so what EXACTLY is palatial? It all depends on what you feel like doing tonight. Alhambra offers everything from an intimate, quiet dinner to a hip-thrusting night of belly dancing, complete with live band.
Slideshow: Alhambra Palace Restaurant
Quiet Dinner, Please
No problem, when you walk in to the main entrance, hang a right and you’ll be at the Alhambra Formal Dining room. The walls are hand carved, the furniture imported from Morocco and dining chairs that are so big and cushy, an NBA basketball player would feel right at home. You also have a choice of cuisine, Moroccan or French, from esteemed chef, Eric Aubriot.
A Drink and a Nibble
Got that covered. The bar is right next to the dining area and offers a dark, but colorful setting of ornate décor and Moroccan Meza (aka ‘tapas’…my family calls it ‘meze’).
Dining and Dancing…and People Watching
Proceed through the bar to the monstrous Alhambra Room with Balcony. A jeweled chandelier in the center of the room makes you feel as if you’ve arrived to a royal party. The difference? A warm atmosphere complete with tables (with room to glide between them), walnut tables, a stage, palm tree and some of the most diverse people in Chicago. Order an entrée or two, have some baklava and get ready to shake your hips on that dance floor!
Some Cool Privacy, with a View
All over it. Yes, Alhambra thought of everything. There are ‘skyboxes’ that surround the main room. Six private rooms that seat 15 people each are mini alcoves. Each of these alcoves has a stellar view of the stage and area down below through a balcony. I can imagine having one of my pre-wedding parties here in a heartbeat. There is a fee to rent each skybox (I don’t know what that is).
The second floor of Alhambra contains a 6,000 sq. ft. banquet hall that holds 300-400 people. You also have your pick of food up here, French, Moroccan, or continental
Overall, I had a terrific time. Looking at the imported furniture, paintings and mosaics alone kept me occupied. Every single corner of Alhambra has a story, a theme and the use of Dr. Rustom’s careful eye. I heard it took him three years to shape the Palace to his tastes. I do think the outside of Alhambra was a bit cheesy looking, at first, but when I walked in, I understood what he was going for – soup to nuts feeling of being in a true Palace.
The music. Oh, the music. Regardless of your background, I guarantee you’ll want to dance a bit to the sounds of Middle East mixed with French mixed with hip hop, mixed with slow ballads. Dancing not your style? You’ll have plenty to see and eat!
When Michael and I left Alhambra, I needed to take a double take. I spent four hours in another world and had to adjust my mind to thinking, ‘oh, this is the West Loop’. I do love this town, but now and again, it’s nice to ‘escape’.
Alhambra Palace Restaurant
1240 W. Randolph
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