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Sugar Factory (Chicago)

January 24, 2022

  • 55 E Grand Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60611
  • (312) 946-2002
  • Website
  • Menu

We pretty much let the kids decide what they want to do for their birthday’s. Most of the time they pick friends parties but occasionally, they’ll want to do an experience trip. We did Great Wolf Lodge a few years ago for L’s birthday but that was probably the last time we did something.

We took an extended weekend trip to Chicago this past July and L loved it. She had been begging to go to New York City or Tokyo because those are the cities she sees in media and just thought they looked cool. She never knew Chicago is actually a big city and has the feel of city life that she was wanting to see.

We picked a pretty busy weekend in July when we went last year and I didn’t realize just how fast restaurants would fill up. We had a few in mind to eat at but we couldn’t get reservations the day before. They were already booked up.

L decided she wanted to go to Chicago for her birthday weekend and were really happy to oblige. I booked a hotel and started right away making reservations for all the places she wanted to eat at.

The big one we absolutely had to do was Sugar Factory. J and I tried to walk in to the place on a Thursday night when we were there in July with no luck. We also tried reservations for any time on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday…again with no luck. This time, I booked a couple of months out to make sure we got to do what L wanted to do for her birthday.

Sugar Factory has two locations in the Chicago area. There is one in Rosemont near O’Hare International Airport, but we were downtown so we booked at the River North location on the corner of Grand Avenue and Rush Street. The space is part of the Nordstrom building and has been everything from a Cosi to a wine bar in the last decade.

The restaurant is divided in to three sections. When you first walk in, there’s a host stand where they checked our vaccination cards (yes, Chicago is requiring proof of vaccination for in person dining right now). We had 7:30 reservations and got there about 7:20. They finished getting our table ready and we were seated by 7:30.

This area also have some candy store qualities to it. There is a large wall of bulk candy that wraps behind the bar dining area. You can grab a bag or a bucket and fill up then pay at the host stand.

And then you know they saw we had kids so they took us kind of out of the way through another hallway next to the host stand with packaged candy. We told the kids if they were good through dinner, we’d grab something small on the way out for the hotel.

There’s a pretty large bar area that was mostly empty on this trip. I actually don’t know what the rules are in Chicago right now for bar seating so maybe they can’t have people there, but there are booths and tables in this area too that were being used.

We were taken to a large booth in the main dining room. You probably could have sat 6-8 people in this thing that wraps around a table on a platform like a U. B absolutely loved this place. There was a disco bar hanging from the ceiling and they were paying his kind of music. He kept asking if he could get up and dance. We had to keep telling him this isn’t a night club and no, he can’t dance in the middle of the dining room.

Our waitress came over and asked if we were celebrating anything. We told her it was L’s birthday. The waitress would do something special for her later in the meal.

The menu at Sugar Factory isn’t really big but you will suffer from sticker shock. We knew right away this wasn’t going to be a cheap meal but we decided this was a special occasion and we were here to enjoy the moment.

We given bottles of water when we sat down and that would be our drinks for the most part. J ordered one drink for the table. That sounds odd until you see what it is.

We got what they call a “goblet” of the Fuzzy Peach Penguin Mango for the table to share. This drink is fresh peach and mango puree with sparkling citrus soda. It’s finished with gummy fruit slices and gummy penguins. We got the drink as a virgin so the kids could drink it with us but the alcoholic version, invented by Pitbull, comes with Voli Vodka.

A big part of this drink was the experience. The waitress brought it out in a shaker then poured at the table. Before she poured she asked if we wanted to take video…we didn’t know we were supposed to but we both did anyway (sorry, can’t get it to embed…but here’s a link if you want to see

We decided we weren’t going to try to make the kids eat too much. We’d just let them have their ice cream and we’d get a flatbread for them to split.

We picked the pepperoni flatbread because it was something they would both agree on. The pizza is what it says it is. Both kids ate more than I expected. We actually had a few slices left that we brought back to the hotel but I forgot about when we left kind of in a hurry Saturday night.

J also got herself a flatbread but she went with plain cheese. She probably could have shared the kids with them but as soon as she would have done that, they both would have been super hungry and ate it all leaving her nothing. That’s the way kids roll.

She also got an order of fries for the three of them to share. The fries are the really good thin and crispy type dusted with salt and parsley. J and L ate most of them and I had a few as well even though I did get fries with my meal. They were really good and I didn’t want to see them go to waste.

I was the only one that ordered something kind of substantial because I was just going to do clean up duty on all the ice cream. My plan was just to eat whatever was left.

I picked The Big Cheesy. This sandwich is an 8 ounce black angus burger with mac and cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, applewood smoked bacon and American cheese all stuffed inside a brioche bun. The sandwich was good but nothing really stood out about it to me…especially for the price. The burger was good….the mac and cheese was good….but it wasn’t anything super special. It was just…good. I have no regrets ordering the burger. I guess for the price though, I was expecting something to knock me off my feet. The sandwich did come with fries so that also accounts for some of the price.

So…now I’ve strung you along far enough. Let’s get to the ice cream.

L went pretty simple. She didn’t want one of the big fancy shakes. She picked simple. Her order was the Butterfinger Old Fashioned Milkshake. This glass is swirled with chocolate then filled with ice cream blended together with Butterfinger bars. The shake is topped with whipped cream, crumbled Butterfingers and a fun sized Butterfinger bar. L was super happy with her choice. It wasn’t an over the top shake but it was really tasty. The waitress brought the shake out with a candle on top then she and another server sang Happy Birthday to her.

B went compete opposite. He ordered the Tie Dye Milkshake. This massive shake is served in a chilled mug covered in chocolate, Skittles, and rock candy. The shake itself is vanilla ice cream blended with a vanilla sauce then topped with red, blue, yellow, and green ganache, whipped cream, Pop Rocks, cotton candy, two candy necklaces, and rainbow sprinkles. Let me tell you, this shake was amazing. B didn’t love the Pop Rocks but I loved how they sunk down into the ice cream so you’d get some with each drink. B’s favorite part, by far, was the cotton candy. He didn’t really like the candy necklaces, but L really likes them so he gave them to her. B did his best to finish the whole thing by himself but I couldn’t totally let that happen. We all had to have a few drinks because this shake is what Sugar Factory is all about.

Now it’s time for the check…and it’s…a lot.

Our bill was $133 plus $15 in taxes…plus $25 in a gratuity (20%) that is added automatically. Our total bill for dinner was just over $175. That includes all of the tip though. As mentioned above, there is an automatic 20% added and they tell you no additional tip is expected…and there’s no where on the check to add it even if you wanted to. You’d have to tip cash.

Sugar Factory is an experience. The food was alright. It’s definitely not worth the price. The milkshakes were pretty awesome though and I’d argue they are worth the price. Really, you’re paying for the experience of Sugar Factory. We stopped in for a special occasion and it really was a special meal. The staff great, the presentations wowed all of us, and everyone left stuffed and happy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 24, 2022 11:44 pm

    That drink is very Addams Family with all the steam coming off it. Very Heston Blumenthol. I want one!

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