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Rethinking Vermilion reservation, also thinking about brunch

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Hi all,
We're off to Chicago next weekend. I made reservations at Vermilion for Friday night because I thought we would likely be at Andy's Jazz Club for happy hour. Now I'm thinking we'll probably skip Andy's this trip. I just took another look at the Vermilion menu, and now I'm rethinking the reservation.

We're staying in the River North neighborhood, arriving late Friday afternoon. Friday can't be too long/late an evening because I have to teach all day on Saturday. Dining "in the neighborhood" would be nice but is not necessary. We have reservations at Topolobampo for Saturday night. I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian but my partner eats meat. Other than my meat issue, we're pretty open to cuisines.

Any thoughts for that Friday night dinner? Or should I just stick with the Vermilion reservation?

We're also considering doing a nice brunch on Sunday. I'm currently considering Bistro 110 and Cuatro but welcome other suggestions for brunch with live music.

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  1. I haven't been to Vermilion, but I've heard good things about it and it's on my "to try" list.

    Since you're a veg, I would suggest going to Green Zebra. I would think that any veg would be interested to see just how much can be done with vegetarian cuisine by a chef of Shawn McClain's prowess (and there are one or two meat dishes too, so even meat eaters shouldn't be disappointed). Check out the menu on their website and read the review from the Tribune:

    Green Zebra
    1460 west chicago ave.
    chicago illinois 60622
    312 243 7100
    Website: www.greenzebrachicago.com
    Tribune review: http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/se...

    It's not terribly far from River North, a short cab ride (roughly two miles). But there are plenty of other places in River North, too, if you want something more convenient location-wise (including the phenomenal new Aigre Doux - see www.chowhound.com/topics/365436 ).

    As for brunch, Bistro 110 and Cuatro are both quite good, the former for French bistro cuisine and the latter for "Latin fusion". I had brunch at Cuatro last weekend and noticed that, on the side of the restaurant where the musicians were playing, the music was very loud (we asked to be, and were, re-seated at the other end).

    There are additional brunch places that are closer to River North (Bistro 110 isn't terribly far, but Cuatro is definitely a cab ride). I would suggest looking at the recent extended brunch discussion ( www.chowhound.com/topics/364403 ) for additional suggestions, but it sounds like you've already been doing some thorough research, probably here on Chowhound.

    1. Thanks for the help nsxtasy.

      We have been to Green Zebra and thoroughly enjoyed it. We went with my partner's parents, both meat eaters, both fairly "safe" eaters. Everyone loved it. The food, the wines, the entire experience. We will go there again, but not just yet. Aigre Doux sounds very interesting. They don't have a menu on the website so I'll check out menu pages to see if they have vegetarian options.

      Thanks for the tip on Cuatro. We want music but also want conversation. If we do go there, it will be on our way out of town so we'll just drive.

      1. Vermillion is very good. I've never been there for dinner, but I've been there for lunch several times, and I've never been disappointed with the food. There are a lot of really interesting options for adventurous eaters (and good options for non-adventurous eaters as well). My only issue with Vermillion has been the service. It is often very slow. The servers are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, it can just take a very long time to get your food.

        1. LOVE Vermillion! I am heading there on Monday night. It is worth it and you can call ahead and ask Manheet for a vegetarian menu. She is very accomodating.

          1. Thanks to all for the reassurance on Vermilion. I don't remember where my doubts about Vermilion started, but I'll push them aside and keep that reservation. I'll be sure to report back.

            1. Is it me, or is Vermilion DEAD during lunch? I took a client during the holidays and I think it was me and another table, and that was IT.

              Very good food though, just not a good place to make it lively during lunch. I kinda like a little bit of activity at the restaurant.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chitowneats

                Maybe it was because it was during the holidays?

                1. re: chitowneats

                  That's been my experience, which makes the slow service even more frustrating. I read that they instituted a new lunch menu though, maybe that is bringing in more people. I hope so, I like having Vermillion around as an option, slow service and all.

                2. Yeah, but it was a Wednesday ... the entire month of December I took clients out, and that restaurant and Dine (in the west loop) were the only two dead ones. I guess it's a bit "out of the loop".