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The Boarding House
The first-floor bar at the Boarding House. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.

One Chicago woman who wows us is Alpana Singh, the cool and confident host of WTTW?s Check, Please! and the youngest woman ever to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier. (She was 26 at the time.) 

Now our city?s most visible oenophile--Singh was previously wine and spirits director for Lettuce Entertain You--has just opened her own huge and hotly anticipated River North restaurant, the Boarding House.

We scored one of the most coveted tables of the New Year to find out how Singh?s industry pedigree translates--and discovered that the stunning three-level space has a sophisticated, feminine sensibility.

If you?re still on a post-holiday break from rich fare (available in abundance here), keep things light by starting with the crisp kale Caesar salad with a red-wine-poached egg ($9), followed by a bright and delicate entrée of citrus-poached salmon with sweet honey-glazed carrots and tarragon polenta ($25).

Save the indulgence for what Singh clearly considers a highlight of any meal: wine. She tasted more than 1,000 before narrowing her list to 450 bottles, and we?d feel confident ordering any of them.

If Singh says it?s good, it?s good.

The Boarding House, 720 N. Wells St.; 312-280-0720 or

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