San Francisco Hound goes Loopy
I was in Chicago for a conference and so I did not get to go out for too many meals and I did not get to choose some of the places I did dineat. I went with a large party to Opera (1301 S. Wabash - on the corner of 13th and Wabash) which has a pan-Asian menu. We had a lot of the dishes including the Vegetable Springroll, Maine Lobster Springroll, Beijing Twice-Cooked Ribs, Sichuan Peanut Noodles, Carolina Rock Shrimp Fried Rice, Black Tiger Prawn Singapore Noodles, Fire Cracker Chicken, Black Pepper Crusted NY Strip with Asparagus, Phat Noodles & Black Pepper Sauce. I tasted some other dishes that were very also good like the duck cooked three ways. I thought the food for the most part was great and everyone in the party did also. The waitstaff went out of their way to accomodate our large party and also worked hard to satisfy the vegetarian member of our party and the person who did not eat pork or red meat. We absolutey loved their cocktails. I also went with a friend to Topolobampo - I would have liked to have gone to the Frontera Grill, but we had limited time to wait and some friends had mentioned that the night before the wait was 1 hour and 45 min (they ended up waiting 1 hour for a seat at the bar). That place is crazy busy and LOUD. Topolobampo was practically serene in contrast. The menu is fairly expensive (it was $130 for two). We had the trio of ceviche - which I guess is a specialty and I was not wowed by 2 of the 3. I am of the mind that ceviche needs to have extremely fresh fish that really tastes like it was just pulled out of the sea, also the sauces were a bit overpowering. We also had another appeitzer of shrimp tacos that were unlike any fish taco I have ever had (in a bad way). There were 4 - very small -rolled up tacitos with shrimp that was swimmming in a tomato sauce that tasted like it came from a can. I had the Maine Lobster which was quite delicious and came with a small gratin of some sort of almost vegetable for which I cannot remember now. There were really no vegetables with any of the dishes and I am not sure there were in any of the dishes even on the whole menu. My friend had the duck which was also quite delicious. We had a couple of cocktails and glasses of wine and no dessert. I also had one dinner at the Park Grill in Millenium Park which was pleasant - I had a nice Cioppino which was very small and came with bread that was not good. The bread for the table was really good though, thank goodness or I would have starved, also a decent German chocolate cake which I am pretty picky about. I also ate out for breakfast at the Atwood Cafe, Orange and Yolk, Orange and Yolk were adequate, kind of disappointing, and Atwood was lovely.
Interesting take on Topo. Too bad you didn't go to Naha, 1/2 block up the street. The Park Grill is OK and is certainly in a unique setting, but it is not very interesting. Anyhow, I was kind of curious why you chose to have cioppino in Chicago. The best cioppino I ever had was in North Beach. It is, after all, SF's signature dish. Although, in a fit of home-sickness, I once ordered a "maxwell street polish" in San Francisco, and totally regretted it.