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May 22, 2007 09:32 AM

Anniversary tip?

Looking for someplace for an anniversary dinner. I don't eat meat (fish is okay) and my wife is pregnant (so wine pairings aren't an issue, at least not for her), but beyond that we have no real preferences beyond someplace quiet, low-key. I guess we'd be looking a bit more for ambiance than cuisine - we're not looking to do Avenues/Tru/Everest etc, - although I am a sucker for a good vegetarian tasting menu. Geography-wise we'd be looking Loop north as far as Evanston, but we'd probably be more interested in a solid but less known place in, say, Lincoln Square than a bustling spot in the South Loop. But we're really open. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be most appreciative (and my apologies if I'm asking a question that's already been asked a billion times).

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  1. For seafood...
    Joe's Stone Crab
    Catch 35
    Oceanique in Evanston

    1. I think Scylla is a great option - the ambiance is wonderful, it is in a small house, with small dining areas upstairs and downstairs, so everything feels very intimate. The food is wonderful, and there are generally a variety of options for you including one or two fish dishes and some small plate pastas which can be ordered entree size. When I was there recently I had an excellent trout dish which might still be on the menu. They post the menu online, so I would check it out ahead of time to make sure that there is something you are willing to eat.

      Other options:
      - Cafe Spiaggia - excellent Italian food, plenty of vegetarian options, nice atmosphere.
      - Coco Pazzo - also very good Italian food with plenty of vegetarian options. The atmosphere is lovely and the service is generally very good, but on weeknights there are lots of business dinners there, so it can start to feel a little businessy.
      - Vermillion - Indian/Latin fusion with plenty of vegetarian and fish options. If your wife is up for it during the pregnancy, there are lots of really interesting things to try. I love the food, but I have found the service slow on several occasions. That's probably not an issue for a celebration dinner.

      1. Here are several places not too far from Lincoln Square, and all are very good in every way:

        Sola -
        Magnolia Cafe -
        Sweets and Savories -
        North Pond -

        However, if you want sinfully spectacular food (with an emphasis on seafood), and an atmosphere that is casual but elegant, a place where you really feel like you did justice to that special occasion, go up to Evanston for Oceanique.

        7 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Based on what we read and the input we got it came down to Spring, Scylla, and Cafe Matou, and the missus picked Cafe Matou. Scylla, however, has earned a high spot on the to-try list. Thanks for the advice.

          1. re: psegall

            La Scarola at Grand/Halsted is a nice place that's not too busy, with a pleasant ambience. I think we went there for our own anniversary 2 years ago.

            1. re: psegall

              Please let us know how you like Cafe Matou.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                A slightly belated report on Matou: not a bad choice. Not exceptional, either, but solid. Unfortunately my wife and I ordered the same things so I haven't got a breadth of material to comment on. We started with the highlight of the meal - morels with noodles in broth. The morels were gorgeous and rich, the broth flavorful but not overwhelming. We then had tomato-bread soup with parmesan and, I think, fennel. Again, solid. We each had the vegetarian entree: sauteed spring vegetables in phyllo dough. I think my wife enjoyed this a bit more than I did, but I'm a sucker for anything in phyllo.
                Service was pretty good. We were the first diners seated so our waiter was initially a bit eager to get us started, but ultimately was attentive without being intrusive. The dining room was pleasant, not terrifically cramped. It wasn't a miraculous dining experience but definitely solid, definitely worth a look.

              2. re: psegall

                I don't know if they're still on the menu, but last weekend at Matou they had some just amazing dishes - a veggie dish with wild mushrooms and ramps, a salmon dish with morels in cream sauce... I had a pasta appetizer with asparagus, morels, ramps - so good!

                1. re: leek

                  sorry for the late post

                  we had a very dissapointing meal at cafe matou

                  went on a saturday night...started ok but slowly was fine, not exceptional, service was terrible (indifferent, uneducated about the menu and horrible follow-up)

                  we were going to order dessert but after sitting around for too long, we all looked at each other and said, "let's go."

                  may have been just our experience but we won't return

                  1. re: marilyn9

                    i've been to cafe matou twice now and both times have been similarly disappointed. not worth the price.