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Dining solo this Saturday

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This may be a tough once since I didn't plan in advance and forgot about the Marathon visitors.

I'll be downtown this Saturday and have little to do for about five hours (my wife has an event in Hyde Park from about 5 to 10 pm). I have a car and as long as valet is available or parking isn't tough, I'm game.

Price is not much of an issue - if Trotters, Avenues, Moto, Tru, Spiaggia, Alinea, Everest, Blackbird, or Topo were available I'd be there (no to Frontera, I'm there too much).

I'm not thrilled about communal dining (a la Avec) but sitting a bar should be fine.

Aria, NoMi, and Opera are open, but I'd like to avoid Asian influenced cuisine and I'm not crazy about seafood. French is warmly welcome, steak is good, a tasting menu would be fantastic. North Michigan would be welcome since I can spend some time at Borders should I have some time to kill. Any thoughts?

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  1. Brasserie Jo is a nice Bistro in River North. I've enjoyed several dishes there, but my favorite is the Choucroute (sp?) which is a pile of smoked sausages and pork products heaped on a mound of delicious sauerkraut. Food is Alsatian style, so clearly some German influence. Not something you typically see at Bistros in the US. I've ordered it both with a bottle of Moulin a Vent Beaujolais as well as Tripel Karmeliet ale and it has been just wonderful. Lots of other good options there.

    If you want steak, I would recommend the bar at Keefers.

    If you don't mind ponying up the $$, try calling Avenues. Despite outstanding food, by nature of being in a hotel (Penninsula) they tend to have open tables. They have a bar overlooking the kitchen which would be nice for a solo diner. I had the tasting menu there in May and it was one of the best meals I have ever had in Chicago. Also right by the Borders on Michigan Avenue.

    1. I would try for a reservation at Copperblue. Chef Tsonton's menu is mediterannean with a major southern french influence and the wine list is terrific. Restaurant is at Lake Point Tower near Navy Pier, but don't let that scare you. The restaurant is TOTALLY different than its surroundings. The setting is a bit romantic though, if you're not comfortable eating at a table by yourself. Bar is very small and probably not as comfortable a dining experience. Food is FANTASTIC and valet service is available. I bet Chef would create a tasting menu if you asked for one. I've eaten there a couple of times where I just asked him to cook whatever he liked and it was delightful.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chicagowinediva

        Copperblue has openings - plus five or seven course tasting menus which is promising. I actually haven't been to Navy Pier in years so that may give me someplace to walk around.

        wak - Avenues is booked through OpenTable but I may give them a ring and see what they say. Otherwise Brasserie Jo has been on my radar for a while now but I've never made it out there.

        Much to think about....thanks for the suggestions.

        1. re: chris

          Great news - I'll be dining at Avenues at the Kitchen Bar.

          1. re: chris

            That is great news. FWIW, when I was there recently I had the 10 course tasting menu with the Kobe beef. You can pay extra for to the Kobe beef course, otherwise it's a set menu. I was not particularly impressed with the Kobe, so my recommendation would be to skip that option. Otherwise it was a wonderful meal. At the kitchen bar should be even more interesting. Looking over the current menu the only familiar course is the 'Ceasar Salad', which was wonderful (and obviously nothing like a standard Ceasar Salad).

            Have a great time.

            1. re: wak

              The menu changed just recently so I had a very different set of courses than you. I didn't get a menu sadly - I should've asked in hindsight, but I did get some desserts to go for my wife.

              All I can write at this point is that it was, by far, the best meal of my life (I'm not as experienced as some on this board but I've done Moto and Trotters and I found the whole experience more enjoyable.)

              Service was beyond perfect, the chefs were friendly - including Chef Bowles who was a laugh riot, and they treated me better than I expected. This is the first high end dining experience (including Trotters, Moto, Topo, and Blackbird) where I have felt compelled to go back sooner rather than "maybe at some point."

              Once I "digest" it a bit more, I'll write up something more concrete....all I can say is that Avenues is a force to be reckoned with.