1100 W. Randolph St. (150N, 1100W)
Chicago, IL 60607
Have you ever had that friend who you weren't that close to, but you can count on her to have a decent time? That's my relationship with Bon V. It's not my favorite place in the city, but what it lacks in originality it makes up in reliability. I've been here several times and I've never been miserable. That counts for something, right?
You don't go to Bon V to bask in the pretty décor. The 7,500 square foot interior suits the West Loop neighborhood, which tends to be more utilitarian. Stark and simple, it has a slight warehouse district vibe to it, which has a better ring than "meat-packing district."
There are two levels. The main floor has a bar along the left and table service along the right. The middle section is a dance floor. The upper level surrounds an atrium that's supposed to be for table service as well. However, the bouncer who guards the stairs seems to let people up there randomly, depending on how crowded it is.
I hear Bon V is co-owned by an Casey Urlacher, younger brother to Brian #54 of the Chicago Bears. Considering its NFL ties, it doesn't have a "sceney" feel. The bouncers have always been standoffishly friendly without pulling ego trips that some doormen have.
I've only been here on Saturday nights, so I can't speak for the other nights, though Friday night is also popular. Saturdays start getting packed after 11pm and continue the crush until near closing. There is a cover, but if you RSVP and arrive before 11pm, you can usually bypass it. Be aware that at 10:50pm a long line starts forming and you might not get in before the 11:00 cutoff. Because it gets so crowded, I suggest getting a table and bottle service if you can afford it. That way you actually have room to breathe. The best tables are in the corner on the main floor or the rear corner tables on the upper floor. Tables along the back upper level are the least desirable because there is a ton of traffic along that side.
The music is standard club beats, fun to dance to. Drinks aren't bad, not noticeably watered down. Sometimes getting a drink at the bar takes ages. Most of the bartenders are hot females with push-up bras, so I suspect they weren't exactly hired for their mixology skills. As for the clientele, I doubt they care about the finer points of mixed drinks.
The crowd is more ethnically diverse at Bon V than most clubs I've been to. You'll find a mix of every race; most people are in their mid-20s to 30s. Is this the classiest crowd? No. Is it the worst, on par with the winners of Jersey Shore? Thankfully, not even close. Grab a bunch of pals and head on over to Bon V. If you're with good company, you'll have a good time. You might even meet one or two new friends. And for you Francophiles out there, Bon V is short for "bon vivant" in French, meaning a person with refined taste, especially one who enjoys superb food and drink. You'll not find food at Bon V, at least of the ingestible variety. For more information, check out the Bon V website. Ooh-la-la...