Chicago Restaurant Choices [moved from Midwest board]
Heading to Chicago for a conference tomorrow. I've made reservations for the three nights we will be there but am always open to other suggestions. I've read through the discussions on these boards, but don't see recent ones specifically addressing these places. Right now we are scheduled to go to Aigre Doux on Thursday, Salpicon on Friday, and Carlos in Highland Park. Any thoughts?
Those three are good choices. Of course, in the Chicago area, there are many, many restaurants to choose from, so it's more a matter of just what you're looking for.
I think your itinerary is good, by having one "casual fine dining" restaurant (Aigre Doux), one "creative ethnic" restaurant (Salpicon), and one "splurge fine dining" restaurant (Carlos).
I think Aigre Doux is a wonderful choice, and is one of my three favorites in this genre in the city (along with one sixtyblue and Blackbird). I wouldn't change a thing. (Perhaps you read my report posted here on my dinner there in January? www.chowhound.com/topics/365436 )
As for Salpicon, if you're in the mood for creative Mexican, it's a good choice (as are Topolobampo and Adobo Grill). Again, I wouldn't change a thing.
Carlos, hmmm... Carlos is a very good French restaurant in the suburbs. However, I can think of some other places I would go instead. If your group is mostly in the downtown Chicago area (I'm guessing this from your other picks), then I wouldn't go all the way to Highland Park to go to Carlos; instead, I would choose something in the city (if you're looking for French, perhaps Everest, or if you want something French but more casual, then Bistro 110 or Kiki's Bistro). If some of your group is located in the northern suburbs, then two other places I would choose over Carlos would be Michael in Winnetka (see my report at www.chowhound.com/topics/119164 ) or else Le Titi de Paris, in Arlington Heights ( www.letitideparis.com ). But Carlos isn't a bad choice, either, so if it's particularly convenient to someone else, or someone else's suggestion, then just go, and have a great time.
Carlos isn't convenient (at all) but a golf buddy of my husband's recommended it, giving it a certain cache that my own suggestions never achieve (I'll have to try yelling "fore" before I make them and see if that helps.) I have eaten at Everest many times and it has a special place in my heart because when I eat there on my own they treat me like a queen. I love that (it is not always the case!) I am not hankering to leave the city, but.... looks like we probably will. If you were going to go upscale in the city at relatively short notice (i.e., it;s too late to get a table at Trotters) where would you go (besides Everest?)
I did see your Aigre Doux review -- in fact I haven't seen any negatives. Was wondering if people's initial enthusiasm still held? Sounds great to me.
And we are fond of Salpicon, have had some negative (as well as some good) experiences at Topolabamba, and have an Adobe Grill here. But we could go somewhere else that night if there were some great place that people recommended.
I would love to hear back from you on your thoughts about Carlos. I was there a couple of years ago and had an outstanding meal in all respects -- wondering if it's still that good. I preferred it to Everest, but again, that was a little over two years ago.
I can't comment on Aigre Doux -- excited to try it but have not been there yet. I'm a big fan of Salpicon -- enjoy.
> If you were going to go upscale in the city at
> relatively short notice (i.e., it;s too late to get
> a table at Trotters) where would you go (besides
First comment - don't ever rule a place out as too late to get a table, unless you've actually called, or looked it up on opentable.com, to verify. You would be surprised at how easy it is to get tables at the last minute. Saturday nights are tougher, but even then, you might find what you're looking for. Especially if you don't mind eating on the early side or on the late side.
Right now it's early Friday evening, and among the very best places in town, I see that there are openings on opentable.com for tomorrow night for a table for 2 at 5:00 at Avenues, at 5:30 at Tru and Spiaggia, and at 6:30 at NoMI.
For more normal times, you may have to go down a step on the "food chain" for more casual but still excellent places. Those that have at least one opening between 6:00 and 8:30 tomorrow include Custom House, Naha, Aigre Doux, Bistro 110, one sixtyblue, Coco Pazzo Cafe, Fulton's, Hugo's, Le Lan, Shaw's, Spring, Sweets and Savories, and a bunch of steakhouses (and lots more). Which gives you quite a wide variety of choices.
It sounds from your later post that you're going to Coco Pazzo. Coco Pazzo is one of the best choices for casual upscale Italian in the city. You'll enjoy it.
Thanks folks, for all the help. I did the opentable search several times, though we are a party of five so it is a pain. Many of the places you mention, nsxtasy, disappear when you need a larger table, though sometimes a call will get you a different answer (which in fact it did with Coco Pazzo.) Sometimes they cap their opentable reservations at 4, or sometimes (like Carlos) they require a credit card for larger parties and you have to call anyway.
We've been to Avenues and like it fine but don't feel in the mood to go back tomorrow. Maybe because last time we went was with this same group of people. I don't care for Tru -- I went right after they opened which probably wasn't fair, but it was a pretty bad experience in most ways (except for that staircase of caviar -- that was perfect.) Love Spiaggia, but it didn't show up for 5 people. We are huge Naha fans, but were there relatively recently. Haven't tried Coco Pazzo (at least, I think I haven't) and since Italian was sounding good by the time I was done with this exercise, I called and got in.
BRB, the food at Aigre Doux was mostly really great. To start I had ricotta and corn ravioli and did one of those numbers where you use every crumb of bread to mop up every drop of sauce. Fabulous. Friends had the curried cauliflower soup with dungeness crab, which was also good, and my husband had watercress soup that was just okay. My entree was scallops with sweet pea risotto -- some might have found it too lemony but I thought it was fresh and delicious. The scallops were gritty though (what causes that?) and I actually left one -- not because of the grittiness but because htey were huge and rich. The frites with the steak frites were superb, the steak was just average (which the waiter had tried to signal, but my guest insisted on steak, so....) Pork loin, excellent, chicken good. There was an amazing honey crisp full of peaches on the dessert menu that was lovely, but I am a sucker for sticky toffee pudding and if I see it on a menu, that's what I get. Their version was delicate and creative (a lighter than usual pud with a clotted cream sorbet or ice cream.) I couldn't finish, but that wasn't the fault of the pudding.
Aigre Doux was good. A bit loud until it cleared out and the waiter was so affected he cracked us up (pretty sure that wasn't the effect he was after) but the food was good and the sticky toffee pudding was as good as I've had. The clotted cream as ice cream is inspired. Sticking by Salpicon tonight, but decided Carlos was too hard to get to and substituted Coco Pazzo.