Birthday dinner for 2 -- suggestions?
Alright, I'm looking for dinner for two.
Budget: Under $300 total (including wine, tax, tip).
Requirements: Any cuisine is welcome, BUT there needs to be at least one vegetarian entree on the menu (salads don't count). Multiple veg options is a plus.
No Go: Frontera/Topolobampo or Russian Tea Time (we've been, we just want something new).
Right now, I'm leaning towards Blackbird.
Also being considered are Aria and Salpicon. Brasserie Jo and Cafe Spiaggia both look interesting, but may be more difficult with the dietary requirements. Avenues seems to have a veg tasting option, but no prices are listed and my guess is that it's a bit more than I'd like to spend.
As much as I'd like to try Green Zebra, I've read enough negative things to scare me off (at least for a special occassion).
I'm a vegetarian and I love Blackbird. The food and service have always been great! However, if you're looking for warm or intimate it's not your place.
I've only been to Cafe Spiaggia once and was not at all impressed...Coco Pazzo is a much better Italian option in my opinion.
Brasserie Jo can definitely do vegetarian, but it's just okay.
I also like Red Light...they even have a separate vegetarian menu. http://www.redlight-chicago.com/Clien...
I had an excellent meal at Green Zebra (and I am not vegetarian). It was elegant, slightly hip, extrordinary food.
You might also try Spring (springrestaurant.net). Off the top of my head, I can't think what they're vegetarian options are. But since Shawn McClain is the chef there and at Green Zebra, I would imagine there are good options. I would also imagine that you could call ahead to ask if there was anything else they could offer as a vegetarian option, if the menu doesn't list anything itself.
But if you are leaning towards Blackbird and are happy their vegetarian offerings, you can't go wrong with their food. As ceegee pointed out, it can be loud and decidedly not intimate. If you do go there, request a table along the west wall of the building, or at least request a table that is not along the long east wall. The walls along the east wall are very close to one another and that part of the restaurant is particularly loud. On the west wall, you'll have more space.
Darren--If I may inquire about your Green Zebra visit. How many dishes did you order? It seems like some people feel even for "small plates" the portions are ridiculous. Personally, I don't resent small portions if they're of good quality.
ceegee--thanks for the tips. Red Light looks pretty good, but Coco Pazzo, which has been completely under my radar, has become a very strong contender.
That's a good question. I don't really remember, but I don't remember being hungry when I left (though mid-way though the meal I may have been worried if I ordered enough!). There were two of us and my guess is that we ordered 5 plates, perhaps 6. My recollection was that, while some were small, others were not. We may have split a dessert on top of the dishes, and I certainly would have been full after the dessert.
If your budget is $300, you'd be able to order 10 dishes easily. :) When I go to small plate restaurants, I usually order a few dishes, and then decide if I want to do a second round later. That seems like a safe strategy here if you are worried.
Chris -- do report back on where you chose, when the times comes, and what you thought. Enjoy!