New Year's eats

Whether you're looking for an intimate hideaway for two, or a sceney spot for you and 20 of your closest friends, one of these restaurants is sure to fit the bill. Unless noted, prices are per person and do not include beverages, tax and tip. Don't forget to check back -- we're constantly adding more options. And for the latest in bar and club options, check out these top party picks.

Phil & Lou's. Chef Michael Dean Hazen serves up traditional, elegant food on New Year's Eve. A 5:30 p.m. seating features a three-course dinner ($35). A four-course meal is offered at 7:30 ($45) and 9:30 ($55). On the menu: Maine lobster; rack of Colorado lamb with homemade mint jelly; winter greens with grapefruit, almonds and champagne vinaigrette; and house-cured salmon with warm jonnycake and osetra caviar. Includes a champagne toast at midnight.

Allen's. The new casual American cafe serves a la carte items and two holiday menus on New Year's Eve. A four-course meal is $55 and a six-course meal is $85. Seatings begin at 5:30 p.m. and late night diners can celebrate with a champagne toast at midnight.

Coobah. The new upscale Latin restaurant offers three seatings on New Year's Eve at 5, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. A five-course pre-fixe menu including champagne is $65 (add $25 for wine pairings with each course). Latin jazz, Afro rhythms, samba, Carribbean funk and Cuban music permeate the atmosphere. The last seating includes a champagne toast, party favors and a live deejay and percussionist.

Cafe des Architectes. Chef Frederic Castan adds Provencal flavor to traditional holiday favorites with two menus on New Year's Eve. The first seating (5-6:30 p.m.) features a four-course menu for $65 ($25 kids 4-12). Choose from pan-seared medallion of venison, duo of duck and grilled filet of beef with mango fritters. The second seating (8:30-10 p.m.) features a five-course menu for $135 ($60 kids 4-12). Choose from seared sea scallops with porcini ravioli, poached Maine lobster and double-rib lamb chops, plus a champagne toast.

Opera. Dine a la carte or opt for the chef's tasting menu ($60). Seatings begin at 5:30 p.m. A complimentary champagne toast is included for late-night diners.

Fortunato. Chef Jennifer Newbury augments the regular menu with a few holiday specials. A casual dinner begins at 5:30 p.m.

Mar y Sol. A special three-course menu is offered featuring ancho-chili rubbed chicken; filet mignon with a pepper red wine sauce; plantain-crusted grouper; and banana-chocolate crepes. An early seating (6-7:45 p.m.) includes two complimentary cocktails ($75) and a late seating (8-11 p.m.) includes a limited open bar, party favors, champagne toast and musical entertainment by Leddie Garcia of Poi Dog Pondering, 8 Fat Fat 8 and DJ Madrid for $125.

Glory. It's business as usual at this New England-inspired eatery. Stop by for a casual dinner before heading home to watch the ball drop.

Ferrari Ristorante. The regular menu of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine is available, plus a few holiday specials. Dinner is served from 5:30-10:30 p.m.

Rumba. Chef Israel Calderon creates a six-course meal that includes shrimp with chipotle cream sauce; plantain-encrusted beef tenderloin; baby lobster with tequila and garlic sauce; and rum yunke fruit flambe. An early seating begins at 5 p.m. ($75) and includes a jazz trio. A late seating begins at 8:30 p.m. and features Raul Ortiz and His Mambo Jazz Orchestra, dancers and Julian Lugo's Conga Ensemble. Not hungry? Join the party at 9:30 p.m. for dancing, music, party favors and a champagne toast ($40).

Brasserie Jo. The French bistro takes reservations beginning at 5 p.m., offering chef Jean Joho's most popular dishes from 2002. Correctly guess the number of glasses in a giant bottle of Joseph Perrier champagne and you get to keep the bubbly.

Coco Pazzo. Chef Tony Priolo creates Tuscan dishes including smoked salmon with crab and leek ragout; oysters on the half-shell; lentil and cotechino soup; black truffle and ricotta ravioli; risotto bianco; grilled veal chops and more. Dinner seatings begin at 5:30 p.m.

Jilly's Italian Steak Joynt. Chef Matthew DiGiacomo presents Baccanalia, a Roman festival featuring music, song and drink. Actor Louis Vanaria of "A Bronx Tale" entertains. On the menu: scallops with truffles and caviar; coconut shrimp; mixed seafood linguine with spicy marinara; crab raviolinis; braised veal shanks with pumpkin gnocchi and more. Seatings begin at 5 p.m. Late night diners ring in the New Year with a champagne toast.

Rushmore. Miss Cliques Grand New Year's Eve tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. with a three-course meal for $65 ($100 with wine and champagne pairings). The second seating (8:30 p.m.) includes a five-course dinner ($75) with caviar tastings and glass of champagne ($150 with wine pairings). The tables make way for a deejay spinning from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. for late night entertainment.

Tizi Melloul. A four-course caviar and lobster dinner is offered for $100 per couple and includes a glass of champagne. A la carte dishes are also available. Ring in the New Year with belly dancers (performing at 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.), party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.

Narcisse. Chef Alfredo Lima prepares a four-course meal with seatings from 5-8:30 p.m. ($75). For an additional $75, stick around for the Late Night Debauchery Party with DJ Eric Ross, a premium open bar, party favors and a midnight toast ($95 without dinner).

Yoshi's Cafe. A three-course meal begins at 5 p.m. ($45) and a four-course meal begins at 7:30 p.m. ($85). Menu items include confit of Japanese pear and foie gras; wild mushroom chawan mushi; kuromame; lobster bisque; beef tenderloin; fresh fish; white chocolate dessert and more. Late diners receive party favors and a champagne toast at midnight, plus entertainment by the Adams Duo.

Salpicon. For upscale Mexican cuisine and a lively atmosphere, choose from one of three seatings at 6 p.m. ($55), 8 p.m. ($65) and 10 p.m. ($75). Menu items include crabcakes with chiles and cilantro; stuffed chipotle chiles; black beans and shredded beef tortillas; roasted beet salad with jicama and watercress; grilled prawns; and garlic-marinated grilled quail. Party favors and a midnight champagne toast are included in the last seating.

Ina's. Get a head start on New Year's Eve festivities: the regular savory breakfast menu is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus a limited number of lunch items.

Nola's 32nd Ward Seafood House. The New Orleans-style party includes a surf 'n' turf buffet and open bar from 8-11 p.m., plus music, dancing, festive cocktails, beads and more.

Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna. Festivities begin at 9 p.m. with a four-course menu and live Greek music to celebrate both the New Year and the restaurant's 11th anniversary. Cost is $65 and includes a champagne toast, party favors and Pegasus' traditional vasilopita (is you're served the cake with the hidden coin, you win a $100 gift certificate and luck for the year). The regular menu of Greek cuisine is offered until 9 p.m.

Vong's Thai Kitchen. Dinner is served from 5-11 p.m. On the menu: signature dishes and specials including tuna wasabi pizza, sesame glazed duck, braised beef brisket and wok-seared mahi mahi. Family-style group share menus are also available.

The Pump Room. Plenty of celebrating when the clock strikes midnight, as this Gold Coast restaurant greets its 65th anniversary. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. in the lounge with passed appetizers, followed by a six-course dinner and champagne toast at 8 p.m. Lesley Byers and the Jazz Cats provide musical entertainment. Cost is $145.

Mas and Otro Mas offer two seatings and a four-course dinner featuring grilled beef tenderloin with smoked crab claws; lobster whipped potatoes; and oven-roasted poussin with oyster mushrooms. Choose from a 7 p.m. seating ($50) or a 9:30 p.m. seating ($65). A vegetarian degustation is also available at Mas, where Brazilian DJ Ricardo Diniz spins.

NoMi. Located on the seventh-floor of the new Park Hyatt Chicago, chef Sandro Gamba presents two seatings on New Year's Eve. Choose from a three-course menu beginning at 6 p.m. ($100) or a five-course degustation menu beginning at 9:30 p.m. ($240). Late-night entertainment includes a four-piece band and a champagne toast at midnight.

Red Light. Chef Jackie Shen offers a tasting menu for $60. A la carte and vegetarian dining options are also available, plus a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m.

Spring. Accepting reservations from 5:30-10 p.m. for a five-course degustation dinner. Cost is $75 (add $35 for wine pairings; $55 for vegetarian menu). Seatings 9 p.m. and later include champagne at the bar after dinner. Cost is $110 ($90 for vegetarian).

Wave. Enjoy a four-course meal and glass of champagne during an early seating ($65) or a late seating ($85). Menu items include lobster bisque, saffron gnocchi, wood-grilled swordfish, roasted veal and Tahitian Vanilla-scented creme brulee.

Erawan. The upscale Thai restaurant offers a seven-course prix-fixe dinner, with seatings from 5-10:30 p.m. Cost is $95, or $150 with wine pairings. For late-night diners there is a champagne toast at midnight.

Zest. A five-course prix-fixe dinner includes lobster parfait with creme fraiche and osetra caviar; bacon-wrapped sea scallops with truffled cream corn; and filet mignon with mushroom duxelles. Live Brazilian, samba and Spanish music accompany the meal. The regular menu is offered until 7 p.m., the prix-fixe holiday menu begins at 9 p.m. Cost is $69. Party favors, dancing and a champagne toast top off the night's festivities.

Cerise. Three seatings are offered with featured menu items including celery root bisque, Maine lobster ravioli and rack of Colorado lamb. The first and second seatings (5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) include a five-course dinner and champagne toast for $60. The third seating (9 p.m.) includes a five-course dinner and bottle of champagne per couple. Cost is $115. The Toni Moore Band provides musical entertainment and party favors are complimentary.

The Italian Village Restaurants. Vivere, The Village and La Cantina are open for dinner at 5 p.m. on New Year's Eve, offering their regular menus and holiday specials. Vivere will celebrate with a champagne toast at midnight and party favors.

Monsoon. Chef Sumanth Das serves a six-course degustation menu from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Items include lentil blinis with caviar; scallop ceviche; steamed dover sole; and lamb shank dumplings. Cost is $90. The bar menu is also available.

Lawry's the Prime Rib. Feast on their classic prime rib from 5 p.m.-midnight, where guests ring in the New Year with a balloon drop and party favors.

Charlie Trotter's. The legendary restaurant features an extended degustation menu. There is one seating from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; the table is yours all night. Cost is $250.

312 Chicago. The regular Italian-inspired menu is available during an early seating from 5-8 p.m. Or, opt for a five-course meal with seatings beginning at 9 p.m. The prix-fixe menu is $100 ($175 with wine pairings).

Tru. Sumptuous seatings from 5-7:30 p.m. and again from 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m. offer four cuisine collections. A seven-course vegetable collection for $100, a seven-course grand collection for $150, an eight-course chef's collection for $200, and a special eight-course truffle collection for $250. Don't expect music, but do expect a leisurely three-hour dining experience.

mk. One seating features a six-course dinner, live music and a champagne toast. Appetizers and cocktails begin at 8:15 p.m., dinner is served at 9 p.m. Cost is $175. An extended selection of sparkling wines are available by the glass.

Shaw's Crab House. The main dining room of the downtown location opens at 5 p.m. with a la carte specials and a champagne toast at midnight. Music by Alan Batts begins at 7 p.m. In the Blue Crab Lounge, the regular menu is available, plus the Fabulous Fish Heads play at 8 p.m. and The Times Square Ball Drop is broadcast at 11 p.m. with a champagne toast at midnight.

Don Juan on Halsted. A five-course prix-fixe dinner with a glass of wine is featured for $45. If you're feeling racy, bring along a pair of red underwear and receive a complimentary appetizer. The regular menu is also available. The Edison Park Don Juan also offers the deal.

Ambria. Chef Gabino Sotelino offers two holiday menus. The first seating begins at 6 p.m. and features a five-course degustation menu ($95) including smoked salmon carpaccio, game consomme and Maine lobster. The second seating begins at 9 p.m. and includes a seven-course degustation menu and a jazz trio ($125). Menu items include lobster ravioli; sauteed sea bass in red wine sauce; venison medallions; and Grand Marnier souffle.

Cite. Panoramic city views plus a six-course menu, fireworks, and music by The Chicago Rhythm Revue. On the menu: lobster bisque, salmon carpaccio, beef tenderloin, breast of pheasant and dark chocolate turrine for dessert. Cost is $225 for an 8 p.m. seating.

Molive. A five-course "Retro Menu" is served from 5-11 p.m. Choices include lobster thermidor, steak Dianne, Grand Marnier souffle, strawberries romanoff and more. Cost is $75 (half-price for kids 12 and under).

Saussy. The six-course menu includes roasted Maine lobster, truffles, caviar, mushroom ravioli and scallops, plus a bottle of champagne per couple. Two seatings are offered at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. for $95. The later seating includes live music, party favors and a balloon drop.

Trattoria No. 10. This four-course feast includes rigatoni with lobster, roasted rack of lamb and sparkling wine for a traditional toast. Cost is $125 per couple. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m.

Spiaggia. Choose among three different seatings with three different menus. The first seating (5 p.m.-5:45 p.m.) features a three-course menu for $85. The second seating (7-7:45 p.m.) features a four-course menu for $110. The third seating (9-9:45 p.m.) features a grand degustation menu for $185, plus live jazz.

Ritz-Carlton. On New Year's Eve, a black-tie gala takes place in The Dining Room including music, free party favors and a champagne toast ($235). Or, enjoy a buffet with music and a champagne toast at The Greenhouse ($135). The Cafe serves a four-course dinner ($70) from 6-11 p.m. Guests who purchase the buffet at The Greenhouse can take advantage of a special room rate of $225 per night on Dec. 29, 30 and 31.

Mon Ami Gabi. The Lincoln Park location is open for dinner at 5 p.m. Choose items from the regular menu of simple French fare or try some holiday specialties.

Geja's Cafe. Three seatings at 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. feature a fondue meal -- appetizer through dessert. Menu items include lobster, shrimp and beef. Cost for an early seating is $55 and includes a glass of champagne; cost for a second seating is $75 and includes a half bottle of champagne; cost for the final seating is $95 and includes a full bottle of champagne plus party favors. A classical, flamenco guitarist will perform throughout the night.

The Peninsula. New Year's Eve black-tie celebrations are planned for each of the hotel's restaurants, featuring Asian-inspired and seafood dishes. Avenues has a four-course meal seating at 5:30 p.m. ($98) and a seven-course dinner at 8 p.m. ($250). The Lobby serves a five-course dinner starting at 8 p.m. ($199) and Shanghai Terrace offers a seven-course dinner at 8 p.m. ($199). The Stanley Paul Orchestra begins at 10 p.m. Champagne provided at 7:30 p.m.

Seasons. There are two seatings on New Year's Eve. The first (5 p.m.) features a three-course menu ($65) and the second (8:30 p.m.) features a five-course menu ($225). Seasons Lounge features a buffet dinner and complimentary bottle of champagne for $125. Seatings begin at 8 p.m. Take advantage of a special room rate of $225 per night at Four Seasons if you dine at Seasons Restaurant on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.

Bice. An a la carte dinner is served from 5:30-11:30 p.m., plus a deejay and dancing for late-night entertainment. Dishes include shrimp martini cocktail, mushroom and lobster bisque, seafood linguine, saffron risotto, grilled salmon, veal scaloppine, tiramisu and panna cotta for dessert.

La Vita. A special holiday menu is offered for an early seating (6-7 p.m.) and a late seating (9-10 p.m.) with party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. A sommelier is on hand to offer a professional introduction to wine pairings.

D'Vine. The Bucktown eatery will offer a four-course degustation menu highlighting favorite 2002 dishes plus a glass of sauvignon blanc or pinot noir. Menu items include pan-seared scallops or halibut; filet mignon; grilled ostrich tenderloin au poivre; and chocolate marquis. Open seating from 5-9 p.m. Cost is $55. For an additional $65, dinner guests can stay for the late-night party, with a four-hour premium open bar, champagne bar and live deejay spinning house and trip-hop (admission without dinner is $75).

Gioco. Dine a la carte or opt for the prix-fixe menu ($65). A deejay spins in the ballroom and there is a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

Bistro 110. The regular menu of French cuisine is available from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. Try the Winter Kiss Martini for a candy cane-flavored warm-up.

Naha. This upscale Mediterranean-focused eatery, recently named Best New Restaurant by Esquire magazine, will take regular reservations. Order off of an expanded menu by executive chef Carrie Nahabedian. There will be party favors and a celebration at midnight.

Nine. Choose between two special contemporary American menus created by Chef Michael Shrader. The early seating (5:30 p.m., $80) features a four-course menu and the late seating (8 p.m., $125) features a five-course meal, plus the Ghost Bar party for no additional charge. Both menus feature caviar, lobster and prime steaks. Seatings are also available at the Champagne and Caviar Bar.

Le Colonial. The first seating, priced at $75, begins at 5 p.m.; the $100 second seating starts at 8 p.m.

Dinotto. Three seatings (6 p.m., 8 p.m., 10:30 p.m.) feature holiday specials including herb-rubbed veal chops with truffle-scented mushrooms; lobster ravioli with shrimp and caviar; and panettone in amaretto sauce for dessert. The regular Italian menu is also available.

Vinci. Three menus and two seatings are featured. Choose a three- or four-course menu from 5:30-8 p.m. ($35 and $42 respectively), or a five-course menu at 9 p.m. ($75) with a champagne toast at midnight, party favors and a deejay. On the menu: lobster salad; traditional New Year's Eve sausage with lentils and rosemary; butternut squash tortelli; and monkfish scallopine with spinach and lemon-caper sauce.

Spago. Dine a la carte during an early seating (5:30-7 p.m.) or opt for the four-course holiday menu ($75) with seatings from 9-10 p.m. including entertainment by DJ Michael O'Dea, dancing and a champagne toast.

Zealous. Chef Michael Taus offers three holiday menus. The first seating features a three-course dinner for $65. Guests choose an a la carte appetizer and entree and a special dessert duo is served. Two additional menus are offered from 8:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Each includes canapes in the lounge, a five-course menu and party favors. Choose from grilled Chilean sea bass, seared scallops, roasted duck and poached lobster. Cost is $85 to $105 (add $50 to $70 for wine pairings). Vegetarian menus also available.

Bin 36. The downtown location of this wine-focused restaurant offers three seatings beginning at 5 p.m. (four courses), 7:30 p.m. (four courses) and 10 p.m. (five courses plus champagne toast). The respective menu prices are $60, $80 and $100. The Jazz Statement, a jazz combo, plays from 8 p.m.-1 a.m.

Maggiano's Little Italy. The Clark St. location serves a buffet from 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Menu items include stuffed mushrooms; four-cheese ravioli; chicken saltimbocca with prosciutto and provolone; and homemade tiramisu. Entertainment includes live music, party favors and a champagne toast to ring in the new year. Cost is $50. Or, opt for a traditional dinner off the regular menu of Southern Italian cuisine, plus two holiday specials: choose from grilled porterhouse steak and charbroiled swordfish.

Joey Buona's Pizzeria Grille. The even larger New Year's Eve family-style wine dinner ($39.95) includes cordials, coffee, a champagne toast and party favors, or opt for the regular family-style dinner ($22) with party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Each option includes a five-course dinner for parties of four or more.

Harry Caray's. The downtown location features a "Tour of Italy" themed five-course menu, including such regional dishes as chilled lobster with fresh vegetables, baked salmon with kalamata olives, spinach-stuffed ravioli in walnut cream sauce and biscotti-filled chocolate salami. Cost is $75 including wine pairings, or $55 without.

MOD. A la carte items and holiday specials are offered during seatings from 5:30-11:30 p.m.

Adobo Grill. This Old Town staple will feature a special menu with seatings from 9-10 p.m. The $90 price includes unlimited margaritas, wine and Mexican beer, party favors, a tequila toast at midnight and an eight-piece Mariachi band. On the menu: shrimp tacos with roasted tomato and pasilla salsa; chipotle-cured salmon with crispy plantain tostaditas; and pan seared diver scallops with green mole.

Cafe Spiaggia. Order a la carte, or opt from the three- or four-course menus priced from $35-$45.

Suburban options
Trio. An eight-course chef's tasting menu is offered from 5-7 p.m. ($150) or 8-10 p.m. ($175) with a champagne toast at midnight. Hotel accommodations available upstairs at The Homestead for a special rate.

Oak Brook Hills Resort. A four-course menu includes tomato bisque with herb creme friache; trio of beef, veal and jumbo gulf prawns; and a chocolate mousse torte for dessert. A kid's menu is also available. Entertainment includes a pre-dinner singing and dancing act, a deejay, dancing and balloon drop at midnight.

Mia Cucina. Festivities begin at 9 p.m. with a four-course meal. Choose from oven-roasted veal chops with fontina cheese and prosciutto; beef tenderloin with porcini mushrooms and cream; and grilled atlantic salmon. Entertainment includes the R&B band Hip Pocket, plus party favors, a balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight. Cost is $65. For an earlier option, dine off the traditional menu from 5-8 p.m.

Le Deux Gros. Two seatings are offered at this Glen Ellyn French restaurant. The first (6 p.m.) features a seven-course meal and glass of champagne ($120) and the second (9:30 p.m.) features an eight-course meal, glass of champagne and party favors ($140). Both seatings include live music by Tommy Muellner and a vocalist.

Corner Cooks. Guests are sent home to celebrate with a split of champagne after a one-seating four-course dinner is served at 7 p.m. On the menu: linguine and prawns in a terragon-coriander broth; duck breast or monk fish; a winter salad with pears and gorgonzola; and bittersweet chocolate brioche pudding. $70 includes the meal and one champagne split per couple.

Tin Fish. Tinley Park's new seafood restaurant offers the regular menu of fresh fish and prime steaks to holiday diners. Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m.

Koozy's Cafe. A five-course dinner begins at 9 p.m. Festivities include a premium open bar, deejay entertainment, a champagne toast at midnight and party favors. Cost is $75.

Courtright's. Plenty of options with three seatings throughout the night. A three-course early seating starts at 3 p.m. for $55; a four-course second seating starts at 5:30 p.m. for $70; the five-course third seating begins at 8:30 p.m. for $90. Champagne, herring, party favors and fireworks ring in the new year. On the menu: lobster bisque, foie gras carpaccio, tuna tartar, champagne lemongrass sorbet, grilled lamb, lobster mousse lasagna and a chocolate-orange cake with ground clove ice-cream for dessert.

Porto Bello. Several different packages are offered beginning at 9 p.m. A five-course meal with all drinks included is $100-$125, or opt for dinner only for $65. Choose between New York strip steak, prime rib, lobster tails, stuffed salmon with crab and more. Live music provided by Vic Pacini.

Gabriel's Restaurant. Seatings at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. feature a four-course meal with choice of appetizer, pasta, entree and a tasting of desserts. A champagne toast at midnight is included. Prices are $110, $120 and $150, respectively.

Elaine. Chef Ted Cizma offers a five-course dinner for $60 ($110 with wine pairings). On the menu: smoked phesant, braised oxtail, sashimi albacore tuna, provimi veal shank, chocolate-chip semifreddo and more. Dinner begins at 5 p.m.

k North. Come early for a four-course menu (seatings begin at 5 p.m.), or opt for a festive four-course tasting menu with a champagne toast at midnight (seatings begin at 8 p.m.) Cost is $60 and $85, respectively.

Indian Lakes Resort. Chicago's largest resort offers a four-course dinner at 7:30 p.m. On the menu: smoked Scottish salmon, herb-crusted beef tenderloin and hazlenut chocolate mousse torte. Rich Daniels of City Lights Orchestra and a jazz trio provide musical entertainment, plus party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Cost is $139.

Shaw's Crab House. At the Schaumburg location, festivities begin at 8 p.m. with two options: The regular menu is available in the Red Shell Lounge with live music by Rockin' Johnny and a champagne toast at midnight. Or, party on the second floor of Shaw's with deejays, raffle prizes and a dinner buffet for $60.

Mon Ami Gabi. The Oak Brook location is open for dinner at 5 p.m. Choose items from the regular menu of simple French fare or try some holiday specialties.

Le Titi de Paris. Choose between an early seating (5:45 p.m.) that features a five-course meal for $78, or a late seating (9 p.m.) that features a six-course meal for $88. Menus include canapes; sauteed Norwegian salmon on celeriac puree; a champagne sorbet intermezzo; grilled beef tenderloin; dessert and coffee. Wine flights are available for an additional $35.

Bin 36. The Lincolnshire location is serving from the regular menu and rings in the New Year with a champagne toast at midnight.

Maggiano's Little Italy. The Old Orchard and Oak Brook locations serve a buffet from 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Menu items include stuffed mushrooms; four-cheese ravioli; chicken saltimbocca with prosciutto and provolone; and homemade tiramisu. Entertainment includes live music, party favors and a champagne toast to ring in the new year. Cost is $50. All four locations including Schaumburg serve a traditional dinner from their regular menu of Southern Italian cuisine, plus two holiday specials: choose from grilled porterhouse steak and charbroiled swordfish.

Harry Caray's. The Rosemont location features a "Tour of Italy" themed five-course menu, including such regional dishes as chilled lobster with fresh vegetables; spinach- and ricotta-stuffed ravioli; herb-stuffed lamb chops; and amaretto ladyfingers with custard and chocolate cream. Cost is $75 including wine pairings, or $55 without.

More than a meal
Merle's Barbecue. The Evanston smokehouse marks the start of a progressive dinner beginning at 8 p.m. BBQ ribs, pork sandwiches and quesadillas are offered, plus margaritas, Tennessee tea and live country music. At 9 p.m., guests move to Davis Street Fishmarket for oysters, shrimp, sauvignon blanc and golden oldies tunes. At 10 p.m., Pete Miller's Steakhouse is the destination for desserts, scotch and Gypsy music by Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan. Tommy Nevin's Pub/Nevin's Live wraps up the night with dancing, music and a midnight toast. Transportation, one drink per venue and entertainment is included in this $75 package.

Odyssey Cruises. An evening cruise leaves at 8 p.m. from Navy Pier and lasts from 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (resting dockside until 1 a.m.) Group rate ($200 per person) includes a four-course dinner, open bar, live music and dancing, plus the Navy Pier fireworks display. On the menu: hazlenut-crusted shrimp; duck confit with a dried fruit baklava; steamed lobster claws; grilled filet mignon; and horseradish-crusted sea bass and shrimp. Call 888-741-0282 to reserve. 21 and over only.

ystery Ltd. will offer two audience participation dinner-theater productions. Guests receive character assignments and clues via mail prior to the event. "Murder on the Train" begins at 1 p.m. at Union Station on New Year's Eve. Includes a train ride to Milwaukee, prime rib dinner, open bar and dancing to live music after the mystery concludes. At midnight, there will be party favors, a balloon drop and champagne toast. Includes overnight accommodations. The next morning, there's breakfast and a train ride back to Chicago. Cost is $279.50 per person, based on double occupancy.

For those who want to stick closer to home, "Murder in the Country Club" takes place from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at the Wilmette Country Club. Includes a prime-rib dinner, open bar, dancing to live music and a champagne toast at midnight. Cost is $149.50 per person.

Mystic Blue Cruises. Be among the first to venture off shore on the newest dinner cruise ship at Navy Pier. A three-hour cruise boards at 8 p.m. and lasts from 9:30-12:30 a.m., remaining dockside until 1 a.m. An open bar, appetizers, dinner buffet, deejay entertainment and party favors are included, plus a champagne toast at midnight as the Navy Pier fireworks light the sky. On the menu: crab cakes with lemon aioli, jumbo gulf shrimp, Asian chicken salad, seafood paella, pork tenderloin and more. Cost is $150.

The Signature Room. The restaurant at the top of the Hancock celebrates with dinner and dancing, plus a bird's eye view of lakefront fireworks at midnight. The first seating begins at 5 p.m. ($125) includes a four-course dinner and live jazz. The second seating begins at 8:30 p.m. ($200) and features a five-course dinner with a glass of champagne, party favors and a balloon drop. Lynne Jordan and The Shivers perform Chicago blues. Menu choices include lobster, filet of beef, roasted breast of pheasant and vegetable pasta. At 9 p.m., the Signature Lounge hosts The Greg Pasenko Band. A $25 cover charge includes one complimentary cocktail.

Marche. Two seatings are offered featuring chef Mikael Blais' French/American cuisine. A four-course menu is $65 with seatings every half-hour from 6-7 p.m. Or, wait for the Marche de Sade Part Quatre, featuring a five-course menu, fetish/erotic entertainment, DJ Scary Lady Sarah and a champagne toast at midnight. Seatings begin at 8 p.m., cost is $125.

The Chopping Block. An interactive six-course dinner with wine pairings is offered with a demonstration of how each dish is prepared. On the menu: shrimp and artichoke salad, watercress soup, beef tenderloin with miso-chili glaze, molten chocolate cake and more. The three-hour class begins at 9:30 p.m., cost is $125.

For an early treat, join the appetizer party from 6-8 p.m. Learn how to make buckwheat blinis with caviar and creme fraiche, sweet potato pancakes with seared scallops and truffle oil and more while sipping champagne. Cost is $60.

Cafe Ba-ba-reeba! The Lincoln Park tapas spot offers its regular menu as well as special items. Groupo Cha Cha performs Afro-Cuban mambos, bossa novas, salsas, rumbas and Latin jazz at 9 p.m. Guests receive party favors and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

Kitty O'Shea's. The Irish pub's annual New Year's Eve party promises "bubbles and blarney" from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. A $10 cover includes a glass of champagne at midnight, live music by two Irish bands and party favors. Order traditional Irish fare off the menu. Around midnight, take a break from the revelry and head across Michigan Avenue to Buckingham Fountain, site of the city's official fireworks show.

Green Dolphin Street. An 8 p.m. champagne reception kicks off the festivities at this jazz club, followed by a dinner buffet that includes shrimp, beef tenderloin, lobster tails, smoked fish and an assortment of desserts. An open bar, vintage ports, live band, dancing, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight are also included. Cost is $175.

New Year's Day
Napa Valley Grille. The California-inspired spot will offer its regular menu from 4 to 9 p.m. on New Year's Day.

Ina's. Breakfast is served from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Lobby. The lobby restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel will serve breakfast and brunch from 8 a.m-2 p.m. ($45).

Zest. A brunch buffet is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $39 ($15 for kids 13 and under). On the menu: carved roast turkey, leg of lamb, baked maple ham, roast beef and whole roasted salmon, plus an omelet station, desserts and gourmet sides.

Seasons. There's something for everyone at this extraordinary brunch, from spring rolls and Peking duck to salmon and crab claws. Cost is $51 for adults, $15 for kids 12 and under.

Molive. The impressive restaurant at the Whitehall Hotel hosts a four-course brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $35.

Kitsch'n on Roscoe. The Roscoe Village neighborhood joint's special Hangover Brunch features chilaquiles, scrambled eggs and steamed tortillas tossed with pico de gallo and Monterey Jack-jalapeno cheese and served with applewood-smoked bacon and toast. Ice packs available for those in truly bad shape, plus a chipotle-Bloody Mary bar for the self-medicating. Brunch served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Updated on Dec. 31, 2002.

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