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One Night (Sunday) in Chicago?

If you only have room for one "fancy" meal in Chicago on a Sunday night in October, what do you recommend? On my last visit in May, I went to Blackbird and Alinea. My pocketbook can't handle Alinea twice in year -- maybe twice in a decade. Blackbird was superb, but I'd like to try something new.

Can I go wrong with Spring?

I'll be staying in the Theatre District.

LPM
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  1. Spring is excellent but it can be expensive.

    Greektown is close to the theatre district. There are quite a few restaurants here so competition is fierce and food quality high.

    Santorini at Halsted and Adams serves excellent food in a serene Greek Islands atmosphere. It's often referred to as the very best in Greektown. Known for seafood and lamb dishes. One of the higher priced Greek restuarants in Greektown but definitely not high-end expensive. More upscale feel here when compared to some of the other Greek restaurants.

    Greek Islands also at the same intersection is excellent as well and less expensive than Santorini. This place can be packed daily with 400ish locals and tourists alike. More casual atmosphere here. The whole red snapper I had the other day was melt in your mouth incredible and pretty reasonably priced.

    1. Although my husband and I liked the food at Spring, we found the service (friendly college girl waitrons) to be a bit too casual and disorganized for our taste (and at that price point!). Since you obviously like fine dining, why not try Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel? They have a variety of differently priced degustations, including a three-course menu that (when we were there) was $75. The service is faultless and the food is superb, by an award-winning chef. Here's a link: http://chicago.peninsula.com/pch/dini...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Akatonbo

        I strongly second Avenues. I took my mom there for her birthday and we loved it. The service is absolutely fantastic - warm, but beyond professional. I even commented on a dish I particularly liked to our *lead* server and she had one of the chef's email me a version using simplified make at home techniques. And the food is great - innovative and of the highest quality without being pretentious.

      2. Spring is very good, but there are other restaurants that I much prefer, including Blackbird. One restaurant which is a little closer to where you'll be is NAHA (a 15-minute walk or a very quick cab ride). It's just a notch below Blackbird in my opinion, but it's outstanding and I think better than Spring. Here's a link to the menu:

        http://www.naha-chicago.com/text/menu...

        Avenues is a great rec, but it could get close to as pricey as Alinea. I'd also recommend Moto which I would place in the same dining classification (i.e., creative) and price range as Alinea and Avenues (although Alinea would likely be the priciest).

        One other restaurant that does not receive the attention it deserves is Sweets & Savories in Lincoln Park. While the atmosphere is relatively casual, the food is anything but simple. The 7-course, $60 tasting menu is one of the best deals around and the food is fantastic. Here's a link to comments about S&S:

        http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

        Finally, if you're really after creative seafood, I personally prefer Scylla more than Spring (fyi - they're very close to one another), and Scylla's chef used to be at Spring. Here's a link to Scylla's menu:

        http://www.scyllarestaurant.com/

        Good luck -- you'll enjoy your meal at Spring or any one of these places.

        1. Thanks for the recs. I have read about and would love to try Avenues, but I don't know if this will be the visit for it. I'll be running the marathon that morning, and my body may not want molecular gastronomy that afternoon. NAHA may be the ticket.

          LPM

          2 Replies
          1. re: LPM

            Just want to correct a misunderstanding: Avenues does not do "molecular gastromony" (that would be Moto). Alinea is actually much more "molecular" than Avenues. Also, I would disagree that it is as pricey as Alinea. Alinea (for my husband and me, at least) was about twice as expensive as Avenues (and we had the most expensive of Avenues' several menus). The food at Avenues, while innovative, has quite a traditional foundation. I am sure you'd enjoy it.

            1. re: Akatonbo

              I would certainly agree that Moto and Avenues are very different, although both excellent. I might call Avenues whimsical to some degree, as opposed to Moto which is certainly more scientific and gimmicky (not in a bad way). In any event, utilizing Pop Rocks and Altoids in courses (as GEB does at Avenues) is certainly not typical of what most restaurants in Chicago (or elsewhere) are doing.

              With respect to pricing, Alinea is $125 for the 13-course menu, while Avenues is $138 for the 12-course menu. Sure, Alinea has a $175 menu and both Alinea and Avenues have other menus, and wine adds to the cost, but really the two are not that much different in price. For me, Alinea and Avenues ended up being comparable in price with Alinea slightly more due to alcohol, although I much preferred Alinea (and that's no knock against Avenues which is outstanding).

          2. I think the OP meant after running a marathon that she/he would want more "traditional" meal rather than a series of events. I know after I ran it all my body wanted was comfort and relaxation and I would want a restaurant that had great food but that I wouldn't feel bad about zoning out and missing something.