For nearly 15 years, I've recommended Crofton on Wells to people looking for a sophisticated night out. Suzy Crofton's eponymous restaurant was an elegant, quiet oasis amid the notice-me cacophony of most River North restaurants, and her food was intelligent, nuanced and routinely superb.
And that wasn't good enough. Crofton on Wells, (535 N. Wells St.), which would have been 15 years old come August, quietly closed its doors over the weekend.
Some closings, like this one, perplex me. Crofton on Wells was one of my go-to picks for callers looking for a special-occasion restaurant that wouldn't break the budget; everyone I ever sent there called back to say what a wonderful evening they'd had.
Maybe Crofton, who never cared much about the celebrity-chef quest (though she can cook with any of them) was a victim of her own low-key nature. Perhaps prices, which admittedly were on the higher end (but well in line with the quality of the food), were still too high in today's market. Certainly losing its one Michelin star (awarded in 2010, removed in 2011) didn't help.
"Last year was a good year," Crofton said, "but this year has been painfully slow. I decided the best thing to do was to close down. I'm working on a deal right now to reconcept; hopefully, I can reopen as a less-expensive and more-casual environment."
Fingers crossed that dining at 535 N. Wells becomes possible again.
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