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Feb 3, 2007 03:53 PM

fine dining dilemma

A friend and fellow foodie is coming in from LA for dinner on a Saturday in April. He's been to NoMi, Naha, Trotter, Spring, Blackbird and Avec. We've been to all of the above plus Les Nomades, Tru, Moto, Follia, Green Zebra, Spring, Custom House, Topolobampo, and Schwa. Aside from Alinea (which is definitely an option), any must try suggestions?

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  1. I assume you're asking for ones you "must try" that neither of you has been to.

    In order, starting with the most "must try":

    1. Everest ( )
    2. Avenues ( )
    3. One Sixty Blue ( )
    4. Seasons ( )
    5. Butter ( )

    You don't mention any suburban places, but there are some worthwhile contenders out there too (e.g. Tallgrass, Michael, Vie, Oceanique, Le Titi de Paris). Throw in Milwaukee - not that far away - and then Sanford immediately goes on the list, too. And I just hate putting together a list of places like these without mentioning other worthwhile places like Fulton's, Sola, May Street Market, MK, Sweets and Savories, etc, but as good as these also are, I don't think they're quite at the culinary level of the above.

    Of all of these, if you're looking for the most creative and diverse food (and it sounds like that's what you're going for), EVEREST (under Jean Joho) and AVENUES (under Graham Elliot Bowles) are the two of these that absolutely belong on your list, head and shoulders above anything else in town that you haven't already hit (along with Alinea, of course). IMHO.

    BTW, you've already achieved quite an impressive assortment!

    1. Thanks so much for this list and for correctly understanding an important point that I managed to delete by mistake in my effort to edit. Our major criterion here after qualityof the food is that we'd prefer someplace none of us has tried. I should have added One Sixty Blue, Oceanique and MK to our list of already trieds. We sometimes use 160 to recruit new hires -- mostly we've had good experiences there, though we've also had a couple of ho hums. We only tried MK once and had a very bad experience, but that was probably 4 years ago at least, so it might qualify as a new restaurant for us at this point. If anyone wants to pitch recent performances I'll pay attention.

      To prevent future suggestions I also should have added Aigre Doux, May Street Market (not Cafe), and Kevin to the list to the already trieds as well.

      I should also mention that our friend is a serious wine guy. A BYOB might fit the bill here as well as any place that has a strong list of its own. If anyone is interested in adding more on the following -- and from very recent experience -- I'd be grateful for whatever thoughts you have:

      May Street Market (the BYOB on Cermak, not the place on Grand and May)
      Sweets and Savories

      (Alinea remains high in the running, but there's plenty of detailed press out there to consult already)

      1. Sorry about the triple post! Something very bad seems to have happened when I tried to edit my note about May Street Market. Anyway the one we *haven't* tried is the Cafe on Cermak, not the Market on Grand.

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          1. I can speak to Everest from recent experience. If you're discussing the very best places in town, like Alinea, Tru, and Trotter's, then Everest very much belongs in the bunch (and I think most local critics would agree, not that you're looking for opinions from critics here). It is still one of the very best restaurants in Chicago (and IMHO THE best one out there), with awe-inspiring food that you will remember for a long time. The service is also exquisite - sure, you expect ANY high-end restaurant to have excellent service - but I've seen things there that make the service memorably so (e.g. the maitre d' approaching another seated dinner party to delicately direct a question to a five-year-old girl, asking her if she would like him to lower the blinds because he noticed that the sun was in her eyes). Also, the view from their location at the top of the Chicago Stock Exchange building is amazing.

            440 S. LaSalle St., 40th Floor
            Chicago, IL 60605
            (312) 663-8920
            Tribune review:

            Incidentally, it's worth checking out the websites of all these restaurants to view their menus and get a better feel for what to expect in the way of their food offerings. Here are the links to websites for the places you're asking about that haven't already been posted above:
            Sweets and Savories -
            DeLaCosta -
            May St. Cafe -

            There have been several very recent discussions about May Street Cafe here on Chowhound, with detailed reports:
            If you search these forums, you'll find discussions mentioning the others you're asking about, but not as recent or detailed as these two topics about May Street Cafe. Hopefully others will be happy to chime in with more comments.

            Oh, and regarding editing topics - you can only edit them within two hours after posting. Since the new software was installed, I've found that I sometimes need to refresh the web page to let me edit my post.