Advice for gift certificate $ 150
Hi, I live in Boston and want to send a gift certificate to my brother in Chicago. Can somebody suggest a good, romantic restaurant for a couple, italian or french. Plan to spend 150 dollars for both.
Thank you very much,
Here are three suggestions which provide flexibility (and value) and will enable your brother to choose whatever place appeals to him most, including some of our best choices for Italian and French dining:
1. Lettuce Entertain You ( www.leye.com ) is a group of several dozen restaurants, mostly in the Chicago area. Its offerings include two high-end creative places (Tru and Everest), although those will exceed your target price, as well as mid-priced and other places. (Too bad, since Everest is IMHO the most romantic restaurant in the city, but it typically runs $125-200 per person.) Their French offerings also include Brasserie Jo and Mon Ami Gabi, which are right in the price range you're looking for, as are Italian eateries Antico Posto, Osteria Via Stato, Petterino's, Scoozi!, and Tucci Bennuch. The gift certificates, which you can buy on their website, are good at any of their restaurants. They run a deal every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's in which, for every $100 of gift certificates you buy, you get a $25, lightly-restricted bonus certificate.
2. Levy ( www.levyrestaurants.com ) is another group of restaurants in the Chicago area. They only have a few restaurants in the Chicago area, but they are excellent. Spiaggia is their extreme high-end Italian restaurant which will greatly exceed your budget. But they have two of the best mid-priced Italian and French restaurants, which is what you're looking for: Cafe Spiaggia, the Italian sibling next door to Spiaggia, and Bistro 110, a French bistro. They, too, offer a deal with a $25 bonus certificate for each $100 in gift certificates purchased.
3. American Express offers gift cards that are good at any restaurant that accepts their credit card. Which gives them a huge array of options, letting them decide what place most appeals to them. www.americanexpress.com
I think the above are very good suggestions in that they offer your brother a number of good to very good food options. However, although I like LEYE for their French options, I think their Italian restaurants are pretty lousy (except Osteria Via Stato which I think is decent, but nothing special).
But if you would rather not go the "corporate" restaurant route, here are some other suggestions of restaurants that you might want to call:
Le Bouchon for French.
Merlo on Maple for Italian
NoMi (likely to end up costing more than $150) for French
Pane Caldo for Italian
NoMI is as expensive as Everest ($125-200/pp) and I think Everest is far more romantic and has better food, too.
I think that the Italian options at LEY are good, although some are better than others. But for the best Italian food, Levy has LEY beat. Cafe Spiaggia, the Levy restaurant, is IMHO the very best mid-priced Italian restaurant in the city. Bistro 110 is pretty darn good for French bistro food, too, and so are LEY's Mon Ami Gabi and Brasserie Jo. These three are among the best mid-priced French restaurants in the city.
One other advantage of the LEY certificates is that, in addition to the LEY restaurants, they are also accepted at Maggiano's Little Italy. Not that Maggiano's is great, but it's decent - I particularly enjoy their salads - and they have several locations in the suburbs as well as the city. The reason they are accepted at Maggiano's is that Maggiano's was originally a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, until LEY sold that chain/concept to Brinker International.
Also remember that if you buy a gift certificate for one restaurant, your brother will be stuck going back to the same place if he doesn't use up the entire amount. The gift certificates from LEY, Levy, and AmEx are good at any of their restaurants, so he can use any remaining balance at a different place if he wants.
And, of course, the extra $25 value per $100 for the LEY and Levy certificates stretches your gift further if you get them while they are running their holiday promotions.