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Feb 7, 2007 07:35 AM

Celebration Dinner March 2-3

I just found out that I'm getting a big promotion and my sweet husband has offered to take me to Chicago for weekend of celebrating. We live in Iowa City, but he grew up in Glenview, so Chicago is our "special date" city. In the past, we've always gone for music or sporting events and eaten at his favorites - Gino's, Lou's, Johnnie's, the Works for gyros and polish; or we've stayed in the burbs and eaten with his family - think non-adventurous like The Bagel. But since this IS a celebration for me, I get to pick where we eat this trip and he said he'll go anywhere!

So I've been reading these boards ravenously for years and am now in a conundrum because I don't know what to pick. And even thought my hubby will go anywhere I want, I do want him to enjoy the experience too. He's becoming more and more adventurous and we saw Chef Cantu and Chef's Tramonto and Gand on Iron Chef episodes and he was intrigued by both even though he professes to hate frou frou preparations (his words, not mine).

So in light of all of that, and reading the recent reviews, here's what I've come up with:

Schwa - probably not a chance of getting a reservation now, especially since I understand they are closed on Saturdays
Alinea - likely the same reservation problem

I'm a little worried about hubby's sticker shock (we live in Iowa City after all), so in the next tier, I have:

Sweets and Savories

I would love some advice and or guidance - and would also welcome other recommendations. The Rick Bayless restaurants are out, because he really doesn't like Mexican food and no argument will convince him that this is different.

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  1. It's clear from the restaurants you have mentioned that you have done thorough research on these boards. That's great! Here's my feedback:

    First, don't make the mistake of ruling out ANY place because you THINK you can't get reservations! Try calling the restaurant (or using first.

    I just checked to see what's available for two on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3. Everest has 6:30 open both days in, and later times are controlled by the restaurant, so those may be available as well. You didn't mention Everest, but IMHO Everest is every bit as good as Tru or Schwa, with creative, delicious cuisine, service that is exquisite, and a view from the top of the Chicago Stock Exchange building that is thrilling. I think the Tribune nailed it when they said in their review "But for a restaurant that combines it all--sumptuous surroundings, careful lighting, supremely attentive service and food that is as awe-inspiring as its spectacular views--I'd nominate four-star Everest as Chicago's most romantic restaurant." (Hey, it was a pre-Valentine's Day review, so they were talking about romantic places.) You can read the entire review at For more comparisons among Tru, Everest, and Alinea here on Chowhound, see this previous topic:

    The regular and tasting menus at Everest are also somewhat less expensive than Tru and Alinea (plus Everest has free valet parking, which the others don't). If it works for you, Everest also offers a special three-course pre-theater dinner for $50 at 5:30 every day they're open except Fridays (and also 5:00 on Saturdays, in addition to 5:30).

    If you want to spend less than what Everest would cost, the second group of places you mention are all very good. I think that One Sixty Blue is as good as (and maybe better than) any of them, too, and also worth considering.

    1. Are you staying in Glenview all weekend? Do you want recs for other meals as well? I agree that you really can't go wrong in any of your choices based on what I have read on this board and others (I haven't gone to any of them, but Sweets and Savories and Schwa are high on my list to drag my b.f to because it seems so reasonable).

      Also, just as an FYI: Your trip coincides with Chicago's birthday celebration. If you are going to be downtown, you might as well visit it and get some free cake. From the city's website:
      Celebrate the City of Chicago’s birthday tradition at the place where the city’s history is revisited on a daily basis! The City of Chicago celebrates 170 glorious years at the newly renovated Chicago History Museum on Saturday, March 3, 2007 from 10 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. (please note Chicago’s celebration of the City of Chicago’s Birthday will be on March 3, but the City’s Birthday is actually March 4).

      Have fun and congrats!

      PS: I went to U of I for college (96-00). Is the Airliner still there?

      3 Replies
      1. re: lbs

        Actually, we're not going to be in Glenview at all. Much as I love my in-laws, this is a "just us" weekend so we're staying downtown. Not sure where yet, but we'll probably Priceline a room as we've had great luck with that in the past.

        I'd love recs for lunch Fri and Sat and for breakfast/brunch Sat and Sun. We're taking Friday off, so we should be in the city by 1:00 ...

        The Airliner is still there, but you wouldn't recognize it. They completely remodeled it - took out all of the old wooden booths etc. Still the same FAC specials and pizza, though!

        1. re: iowagirl

          Hopefully, we'll have a warm beginning of March and you guys can so some walking around! You're are coming in at the height of "all you can eat fish and chips" deals b/c of Lent. If you don't do your fancy dinner on Friday, I would recommend that. My recs would be:

          T's Bar (Andersonville)
          5100 N. Clark/Winnemac (red line to Argyle, walk west to Broadyway, left on Winnemac - 2 blocks down. Or the 22 Clark bus). Also, in that area is the Hop Leaf which has been recommended highly on this board and a personal fave.

          Duke of Perth (Lakeview)
          2813 N. Clark (#22 Clark bus)

          Ginger Ale's House (Lakeview)
          3801 N. Ashland Ave (Brown Line to Southport stop. Walk north down Southport til Grace. Take Grace west about 2-3 blocks and it's on the corner). And actually on Southport there a plethora of bar/restaurants that you can go to. It's a fun area to relax in.

          All three places are reasonable (nice if you are splurging on another meal) and outside of downtown but easily accessible by el/bus or cab.

          PS: Can't believe the re-did the Airliner. Man, do I crave that pizza though!

          1. re: iowagirl

            You'll find lots of recommendations for brunch in this previous topic:

        2. It's also worth noting that there are some excellent fine dining restaurants (and other types of restaurants) in Glenview and other northern suburbs. For example, Michael in Winnetka, and Le Francais in Wheeling, are both outstanding. You don't HAVE to go downtown to find great food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks, nsxtasy - I'll definitely keep these in mind if we ever have the opportunity to eat out on our own when we're visiting the in-laws. There are some very hard to please people in his family, so they stick with the familiar - The Bagel, Buffalo's, Lou's and the Pancake House. :)

            I looked at onesixtyblue's website and it looks great - and Everest looks amazing. Thanks for those recs!

          2. I'm also a transplanted Chicagoan, but I return frequently both for business and pleasure. My favorite place in Chicago right now is Red Light, on Randolph and Halsted. The "West Loop" has become a new restaurant row, and Red Light is right in the midst. Chef Jackie Shen (who used to have her own place in the DePaul area) is the Exec, and the food is representative of several Asian cuisines, altho NOT mixed in the same dish.

            I've eaten there several times, and have never been disappointed. The ambiance is romantic.

            Also had a delightful dinner at Brasserie Jo, which is owned by Jean Joho, whose high end room is Everest, on the 44th floor of the Board of Trade... talk about romantic and a view!!!

            Be advised that Tru will probably cost you $200 per person. I was flabbergasted to see that iNew York has NOTHING on that place, pricewise!

            1. I still love the Bongo Room for lunch or brunch. Also good are M. Henry, the recently re-opened Over Easy Cafe, or Lula Cafe in Logan Square and Flo on Chicago Ave. These are all the usual suspects though, so you'll likely have a wait at any of them. They all have good food, a lively atmosphere and are reasonably priced.