Noyane is the newest addition to the growing list of rooftop bars in Chicago, proving yet again that Chicagoans are suckers for anything outdoors. (What can we say, we love drinking outside after a winter of hibernation.)
The restaurant is Chef Richard Sandoval’s fourth spot in Chicago (after Latinicity, Pata Negra and Baptiste & Bottle, also in the Conrad), adding to his impressive list of worldwide restaurants. The entirely outdoor spot overlooks Michigan Avenue from the 21st floor of the Conrad Hotel, serving sushi, Japanese small plates and drinks.
It’s only been a few weeks since Noyane opened so it’s too early to judge anything yet, but my first dinner there definitely left me with some thoughts.
Here’s what to know about Noyane, Chicago’s new rooftop bar
Noyane at the Conrad Hotel
Noyane is truly an outdoor space. The only covered spots are around the bar — which has a retractable roof — and, as of last week, there are no umbrellas. Keep that in mind when rain is in the forecast or on those really hot days when shade becomes inevitably necessary. There’s also a cool fireplace that reminds me of the Iron Throne, but maybe that’s just my Game of Thrones obsession kicking in.
The View & The Vibe
In all honesty, Noyane’s view isn’t the most impressive rooftop view in the city. There’s no lake or river view, but the cityscape of the surrounding buildings is beautiful.
But what Noyane lacks in views it makes up in atmosphere. The vibe is chill enough to be relaxing and upbeat enough to be exciting. There’s a great buzziness to it and I love the loungy chairs and mix of low and high tables.
The cuisine is described as “contemporary Japanese with a blend of Asian flavors,” which translates as sushi (maki rolls and sashimi/nigiri) and Japanese small plates (shareables and BBQ).
It’s obvious why Noyane has been marketing itself as a sushi spot: the sushi was the best thing we ordered.
Our server excitedly recommended the king crab roll ($25) and it did not disappoint. I’d echo her recommendations in a second. But the salmon nigiri ($5/each), as plain as it looked, was our favorite of the whole night — possibly because of its simplicity.
For a taste of the larger plates, we ordered the Miso Japanese Eggplant ($12) out of sheer curiosity. The roasted eggplant is smothered in a miso sauce and topped bonito flakes. All-in-all, the flavor was good, albeit overbearing, like it was masking the eggplant. It would have been better with less intensity to let the eggplant flavor come through.
The chicken thighs ($14), under the BBQ section, were a better option, although much smaller (per its yakitori roots). I’m curious to taste the other barbecue options — especially the octopus ($16) and beef cheeks ($16) — plus the pork belly steamed buns ($14) and donburi ($21).
Noyane is — first and foremost — a bar. There’s a substantial selection of wine available and a handful of (mostly Japanese) beers, but the clear focus appears to be sake, which they serve plenty of.
The cocktail menu is conservative but covers good ground, including staples with a twist — like the Toki Old Fashioned ($15) with Toki and Hibiki whiskys, honey and bitters — and exciting creations — like the sake sangria ($15) with sake, sparkling wine, watermelon and eu de vie. Surprisingly, our favorite was the Lychee Martini ($15) with Tito’s Vodka, Carpano Bianco and Giffard Lychee. Slightly sweet, it was perfectly refreshing for outside. The Kyoto Collins ($15), with green tea-infused gin, aloe vera, lime and soda, was another hit.
Disappointingly, the bartenders are not able to deviate from the menu beyond classics. A few months ago I had a great experience at Baptise & Bottle where I followed a crazy cocktail with an on-the-spot creation made by the bartenders. I hoped for the same experience at Noyane, but was told it wasn’t really their thing. (Which I completely understand.) Instead they made me a more-than-acceptable Manhattan.
Thoughts & Details
Overall, I walked away excited by Noyane. I was impressed by the stellar service and the awesome vibe, and will be back for the food. I was disappointed they don’t serve dessert, but that’s just one more excuse to end the night downstairs at Baptiste & Bottle.
Noyane is only open during the summer months, so try it out while you can — and before the rest of the city discovers it.
Go to Noyane for :: a chill drink outside with some Japanese-inspired bites. Notes :: Open Monday – Thursday, 4 pm – midnight; Friday 2 pm – midnight; Saturday 10 am – midnight; and Sunday 10 am – 10 pm. Reservations are not yet accepted, but that may change.