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Apr 20, 2007 06:02 PM

Sat. night In-laws in town... Help!

I've lived in the suburbs for many years but have lost touch a bit with the dining scene. I suppose we're looking for casual fine dining. One of my guests is a bit hearing impaired and the other has poor sight. That being said, we like great food.

Crofton on Wells was my last great dining experience in the city. Is there anything else out there that would approximate Delfina in SF? They're staying at Chicago Athletic Clug which I assume is downtown. Vivo plus is what we need. Can you help?


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  1. Coco Pazzo is fun atmosphere near downtown & you can get a table on short notice. Greektown is fun, several restaurants to choose from...

    8 Replies
    1. re: Chicago Mike

      Coco Pazzo is much better than Vivo. Just went there tonight. Had the stracci with asparagus (pasta) which is always excellent, roast chicken, and a bottle of Saracco Pinot Noir (or Pinot Nero as they say.) All excellent. In the same neighborhood as Crofton on Wells.

      Chicago Athletic Club is on Michigan, maybe a 5 minute drive from Coco Pazzo.

      1. re: wak

        or a 5 dollar cab ride.

        Coco Pazzo isn't the greatest food on earth, but it's a fun environment with "good quality" food. and somehow the whole is equal to or better than the parts...

        1. re: Chicago Mike

          That will be my plan B if plan A doesn't work. Since I'll have a car, I was thinking of trying onesixtyblue. Kind of hoping for a reserved atmosphere and a chance that the food will knock our socks off. But not sure if the retired lawyer in the group likes New French, and you know how they can be! May need a steak or at least straight meat place in reserve.
          BTW is Coco Pazzo part of a group or chain?
          Thanks - outlook is improving!!

          1. re: billp

            I wouldn't refer to One Sixty Blue as "new French". It's really more along the lines of "contemporary American". The food is spectacular. However, its hip atmosphere might not be best for the couple you describe; it's quite the opposite of "a reserved atmosphere".

            The Chicago Athletic Association (as it is properly called - it's closing after next weekend, BTW) is located at Michigan and Madison. There are several restaurants with excellent food in the immediate vicinity (within three blocks walk):

            Park Grill Chicago, a block or two north on Michigan Avenue at the entrance to Millenium Park. The food and service are very good, and the location is great (right behind, and looking out on, the skating rink). Outdoor dining is available in the warmer times of year.

            Trattoria 10, at Dearborn and Madison, for Italian food.

            Vivere, the fine dining restaurant in the Italian Village complex, on Monroe between Dearborn and Clark.

            Atwood Cafe, contemporary American food at State and Washington.

            Rhapsody - contemporary American, on Adams between Wabash and Michigan.

            Russian Tea Time - Russian fine dining, also on Adams between Wabash and Michigan.

            None of these is part of a chain. Neither is Coco Pazzo, unless you consider them a chain due to the fact that they opened a second location (slightly less upscale) east of the original. Coco Pazzo ( ) is very good, but the other options stated here are in the immediate vicinity of the Chicago Athletic Association and don't require a cab ride or arranging to pick up or drop off your guests.

            Most of these restaurants accept reservations on If the Saturday night you're asking about is tonight, lets you see, at a glance, which ones have openings (and you can make your reservation at the same time).

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Well, reserved isn't a requirement, but probably raucous would be too much. Active, but civilized - would one sixtyblue score on that scale? Or is that just not a good idea. I did get an open table reservation for 160blue but can cancel.
              From my reseacrh, Coco Pazzo seems louder and more cramped than 160blue. Park Grill looks like a very suitable substitute. I've eaten several times at Trattoria 10 for lunch, and I believe they have an elevator for my mobility-impaired Mother-in-law. I would say Trattoria #10 is very good but not orgasmic. Delfina in SF can be the latter. Crofton on Wells tinkers with the Big O.
              Just to read between the lines a bit, has 160blue become overrun with touristy types and thus the cognoscenti would try and screen recommendations to it? No offense there - I can appreciate the issue.
              But realize that I live in suburban culinary purgatory to put it nicely, and damn the relatives if I'm bringing them downtown, I want to have my socks knocked off. At least by one appetizer let's say.
              And a quick taxi or car ride someplace is not a deal
              BTW the vision-impaired wife's uncle said he's eaten at the kitchen table at Trotter's years ago.
              But after all, food is just food I guess...

              1. re: billp

                I would describe One Sixty Blue as active but civilized. And if you want your socks knocked off by the food, then it's a fantastic choice. No, it has not become overrun with tourist types; I would guess that its location away from the hotel areas is beneficial in this regard.

                FWIW, I've never heard of anyone steering out of towners away from places with the best food; in fact, I've never even thought of the possibility. IMHO, people interested in great food - heck, people obsessed with great food - should know about where to get it. Regardless of where they live.

                Bottom line: Sounds like you've considered all the factors involved. Keep your reservation at One Sixty Blue, and enjoy it!

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  I'll report back. I'm pretty excited and it was your post that first steered me that way.
                  Rhapsody just about had me until I saw grape tomatoes on the Caesar. But perhaps I'm getting too narrow-minded (!)

                  1. re: billp

                    One sixtyblue was a very good choice for us. It was late enough that my guests did not want to meander about the hot and cold appetizer lists, so we decided on one per-course and then an entree.
                    I tried the Caesar salad with white anchovies, and it was the best I've had in Chicago since they made me one from the cart at Pump Room 20 years ago. The thin slabs of cheese were outstanding, not too anything but very tasty, and the crumbly cheese bread that they use as a crouton was nicely textured and crunchy but mouthable. [Sorry I'm not a great reviewer.]
                    I snuck in some scallops with a crunchy piece of pancetta on top and sitting on another piece of meat. Good, not revelational.
                    My company each had the organice vegetable soup and they liked it a lot but I didn't try.
                    For entree 3 of 4 had the rack of lamb. In addition to the assortment of veggies being just the right amount of doneness and full of flavor - could I order a double order of those next time? - the meat itself was of a full-flavor quality I had not had before. And I'm a grizzled veteran of the blue Lion in Jackson WY which until it became sooooo popular, had the ebst lamb anywhere. But anyway here the procurement has taken the dish to a new level. The sauces and flavoring were nice but again the meat itself was perfect.
                    A chocolate souffle for dessert that really did only take 10 minues was great - a little crunchy on top but very much creamy the rest of the way down.
                    I would need to go and order a lot more before I could compare it to others, but this has to be close to the 25 zagat gives it for food. The space was indeed active but civilized, with a generous amount of room between tables.
                    I'd return in a NY second.