Walrus

Chicago, IL

385 posts in this topic

We'll be in Chi-town for one, and only one, nice dinner in September -- so where should it be? It's been years since I lived there...are Everest and Charlie Trotter's still the creme de la creme? Or has Tru taken their place? How's Aubriot faring these days? We haven't been to Topolobampo yet -- is it worth making it our one nice meal?

I think that Ray's is better than any steakhouse I ever visited when I lived there, and I'm not really looking for a "different" restaurant like the Green Zebra, etc.

We'll be doing "regular" restaurants (read: my old haunts) with friends -- I'm looking for a special place for just the two of us smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just out last month and had meals at Trotter's and Topolobampo. Both were excellent, but if I was going back I would go to Topolobampo.

Trotter's was nearly flawless, but so are several places here that you could go to that would match or surpass it.

Topolobampo was soemthing more unique. I was afraid that it was yet another of those places where the chef and the restaurant's reputation exceeded reality. Not the case at all. This is still a vibrant, fun restaurant. We did the tasting menu and every course was better than the next. Exciting flavors, without a touch of overbearing heat.

And the margaritas are now my litmus test for those drinks in the future. But be careful - they go down smooth and quick.

Here are links to my comments "elsewhere":

Topolobampo

Charlie Trotter's

Edited by bilrus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been to Trotter's since 2000, but from what I hear, it has been coasting for the past several years.

And from what I've heard, Alinea is firing on all cylinders right now.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I haven't been to Trotter's since 2000, but from what I hear, it has been coasting for the past several years.

That's what I've heard too, although I've also heard that it is maybe more reliable than some fo the other high-end Chicago places, if not as potentially spectacular.

In the link that I posted (I don't know know if you need to register to read it or not), I compared my meal there to my first meal I had at the Inn at Little Washington, one of my first really high-end meals. Nice, very professional, but unstuffy service. Technically correct cooking, ranging from excellent to merely good. But I'm not sure it would wear as well on a second or third visit, just like my second dinner at the Inn. It was still the same, but you go back wanting more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not really looking for a "different" restaurant like the Green Zebra, etc.

I really enjoyed a meal I had at Spring last time I was there. It's owned by the Green Zebra people, but don't rule it out because of that-- it's not really anything 'different'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I ate at Trotters last year and while everything was beautifully presented, excellent service, etc. it was kind of a sterile meal...after the last course I was left with a "that's it" feeling...although then they served the dessert course which were numerous and delicious.

But for the bucks you'll spend at Trotters I think the Lab or Maestro are equal if not better, or I'd rather go with the tasting menu at Komi...maybe I've been spoiled by too many over the top food board related blow out events in DC!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We'll be in Chi-town for one, and only one, nice dinner in September -- so where should it be? It's been years since I lived there...are Everest and Charlie Trotter's still the creme de la creme? Or has Tru taken their place? How's Aubriot faring these days? We haven't been to Topolobampo yet -- is it worth making it our one nice meal?

I have tried Tru 1 1/2 years ago and until this day I think it is the best tasting menu I have experienced (Citronelle, Maestro, Le Bec Fin, Morimoto, La Mer, Clio, etc...) (I am secretly hoping that dinner at Per Se next week will top it!!).

The service was immaculate. My hubby was alittle "warm" after couple glasses of wine and tried to take his coat off. Instead of saying that he must have his coat ON, the waiter whispered to him that the temperature of the restaurant was high and that he will immediately adjust it so that it is cooler (btw, it was not warm...I had my shawl WRAPPED around me). Details such as: small tables next to the chairs for purses, versace tea cups to serve the chilled soup, the decor, pastry to eat with coffee the next morning made it a first class experience.

The food...we had the Grand Tasting...total of 10-13 courses (maybe more). Each of us had a different plate for each of the courses...meaning about 40 unique creations to oooo and ahhhh about! The cheese cart still makes my stomach grumble...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info!

I've made reservations at Tru for our fancy dinner and gone ahead and made reservations at Topolobampo, too -- couldn't resist! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would recommend Avenues at the Peninsula off of Michigan Avenue. Trotters and Topolobampo are good, but there are fresher places to go that are equally good, if not better. I think Avenues is one of more under-rated places in Chicago.

As a caveat, I just moved from Chicago last summer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, schedule is as such:

Thursday, arrive, spend day with Grandmama, dinner at Alinea; Friday, day in Chicago, lunch at Topolobampo, dinner at TRU, drinks with friends...somewhere...hmmm...; Saturday, G-ma's 88th! Hooray! Lunch at Emilio's in Wheaton, plane to Minnesota and more family events :P

Thanks for your help!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a great agenda!

Don't forget Hot Dougs (www.hotdougs.com) or Mr. Beef for a lunch spot! BTW Aubriot has been closed for a few years now...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sister & Brother-in-Law are heading to Chicago this weekend for a quick getaway from parenthood. They're looking for a nice place to eat that 1) won't break the bank, and 2) doesn't require a "nice" outfit!

Any suggestions of "hidden gem" type neighborhood places? Preferably near downtown or Wrigley Field. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend has asked me about what I know of Alinea. I know nothing of it and looking on eGullet I saw a lot of pages that at the moment I don't have the time to invest reading. Would someone be kind enough to summarize the "need to know" about Alinea for me in 3-4 sentences and I can pass that along? I trust you all dearly! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A friend has asked me about what I know of Alinea.  I know nothing of it and looking on eGullet I saw a lot of pages that at the moment I don't have the time to invest reading.  Would someone be kind enough to summarize the "need to know" about Alinea for me in 3-4 sentences and I can pass that along?  I trust you all dearly!   :P

I haven't been, but here's what I've gathered:

Despite the crazy hype they built up on eG, the off-the wall preparations and servings and their self important proclamations, the first reports were mostly raves accompanied by extensive photos, as would be expected from people who had been clamoring to get in for months. But the reports continue to be excellent, a bit to my surprise. In fact just this week they recieved four stars from the Chicago Tribune.

General info - pick from 8-, 12- and 24-course tastings, priced at $75, $110 and $175. Courses that, to my eye at least, read anywhere from very appealing to bizzare. They have already completely changed out every course on the full tasting menu. Very modern, almost austere rooms. Excellent, polished service.

A few more than four sentences, but a lot quicker read than the hundreds of posts on eG.

Edited by bilrus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I haven't been, but here's what I've gathered:

Despite the crazy hype they built up on eG, the off-the wall preparations and servings and their self important proclamations, the first reports were mostly raves accompanied by extensive photos, as would be expected from people who had been clamoring to get in for months.  But the reports continue to be excellent, a bit to my surprise.  In fact just this week they recieved four stars from the Chicago Tribune

General info - pick from 8-, 12- and 24-course tastings, priced at $75, $110 and $175.  Courses that, to my eye at least, read anywhere from very appealing to bizzare.  They have already completely changed out every course on the full tasting menu.  Very modern, almost austere rooms.  Excellent, polished service.

A few more than four sentences, but a lot quicker read than the hundreds of posts on eG.

Just what I needed. Thanks, Bill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sister & Brother-in-Law are heading to Chicago this weekend for a quick getaway from parenthood.  They're looking for a nice place to eat that 1) won't break the bank, and 2) doesn't require a "nice" outfit!

Any suggestions of "hidden gem" type neighborhood places?  Preferably near downtown or Wrigley Field.  Thanks!

most of wrigleyville is pretty much dominated by sports bars, and if the cubs are in town, expect to wait a while.

wish i had something better to add, but the wife's family all live in arlington heights (past o'hare), and, shall i say, don't have an adventurous palate (for that matter, they don't even have a mildly entertaining palate either). as such, the extent of my restaurant adventures in chicago have been limited to lou malnati's and portillo's sausage (course, i love lou's and portillo's).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
portillo's sausage (course, i love lou's and portillo's).

Of the food from Chicago, I miss Portillo's the most. It boggles the mind that when you ask for a hot dog out here with "everything," that means mustard AND sauerkraut. Let's not even talk of the Italian Beefs and proper Polish Sausages. The good thing is, though, that you can order Portillo's online and they will send you a frozen party pack or whatever it's called.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the many kinds of "beef" sandwiches I have ever had (i.e. cheesesteak, beef on weck, roast beef po'boy) the Italian beef at Johnny's in Elmwood Park would be my first choice. Many, many years ago in the early '80's there was a place a couple of doors down on North Avenue called Al Gelato that had fantastic gelato. This is the "early" Al Gelato before it was sold in the late '80's or so and their recipes were changed. That was the best ice cream/gelato that I ever had in a store anywhere. I heard of it because of a cover story about them in Chicago magazine. Both Johnny's and Al Gelato became something of a biannual tradition for me in my business travel for a number of years.

Sooner or later somebody here will realize that Italian beef, when done properly, is a great sandwich that people will buy. And hot gardiniera is still my favorite of all hot peppers, especially from Tenuta's from Kenosha, WI. I literally order bottles of this by the case from them.

http://www.tenutasdeli.com/Peppers___Musta...__mustards.html

Last, Uno's pizza tastes much better in Chicago at either Uno's or Due's than it does anywhere else. I really think a fair analogy is like the original Ledo's vs. all of their other locations.

And then, of course, there is caramel popcorn from Garrett's near Marshall Field's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys! A friend of mine in Chicago put them onto a place called Thyme which might just fit the bill. The website looks like a place I wouldn't mind hitting a time or two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that we've got our dinners set, we're looking for a place where three families can meet for breakfast on Saturday morning...it has to be breakfast, rather than brunch, because we have my grandmother's birthday lunch that day...any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now that we've got our dinners set, we're looking for a place where three families can meet for breakfast on Saturday morning...it has to be breakfast, rather than brunch, because we have my grandmother's birthday lunch that day...any ideas?

"Toast" in Lincoln Park near DePaul.

(773) 935-5600

746 W Webster Ave

Chicago, IL 60614

Haven't been since I moved away (duh), but it's very very kid-friendly and a pretty funky take on breakfast. Gets crowded quick though. I would do it earlier rather than later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll second Toast. I've been there a couple times and really enjoyed it. Also, two places in Wrigleyville, Orange (3231 N Clark St) and Southport Grocery (3552 N Southport) are very good. Thought Ann Sather's (a local chain which alot of people recommend) was disappointing. Chicago's a great brunch town, though.

"Toast" in Lincoln Park near DePaul.

(773) 935-5600

746 W Webster Ave

Chicago, IL 60614

Haven't been since I moved away (duh), but it's very very kid-friendly and a pretty funky take on breakfast. Gets crowded quick though. I would do it earlier rather than later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay... we're going to Chicago for Thanksgiving. But this is not a Thanksgiving dinner question. This is a where-can-we-still-get-a-reservation-the-Saturday-after-Thanksgiving-for-fancy-romantic-dinner question.

Alinea is out, they have no space, more's the pity. I'm not sure about Charlie Trotter but I suspect they're out too. Topolobampo? Any place y'all are aware of that doesn't take reservations, and therefore gives us just as good a chance to get in as anybody else?

Any type cuisine is fine, although I'm not cuckoo for sushi.

My parents spoke highly of Spiaggia -- anybody been?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now