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Mar 13, 2008 11:00 AM

Visiting Chicago and need dining suggestions...high brow...

So I will be visiting Chicago for only my second time and am in desparate need of dining suggestions. Will be there for a monday and a tuesday night. Was hoping to land a reservation at Table 52 but go put on waiting list (looks like I am going to have to just do lunch there). I am looking for something fabulous...been bouncing around sites looking at recommendations. Would prefer to stay away from tasting menus. If anyone is familiar with Boston, I am looking to find places like Mistral, Union Bar and Grill, Stella, B&G....price is not a problem, but would like to leave the restaurant feeling places with tiny portions are out. We are in our late 20' seems like Aigre Doux might work, or a place like Blackbird or Mercat a la Planax....would like the restaurants on each night to be a bit different. Any help? Going in 3 weeks...

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  1. One of the best discussions is at so that's a good place to start.

    I'm not sure what the objection is to tasting menus - whether you want to avoid the super-expensive dress-up places or you simply prefer to choose from an a la carte menu - but if it's the latter, I think Everest is outstanding and you can order a la carte. Plus the view is wonderful. (I don't know what your experience with tasting menus has been, but at the places I've been, the portion sizes depend on the number of courses, and I have never failed to have a tasting menu fill me up.)

    Otherwise, in the casual fine dining contemporary restaurant genre, I think one sixtyblue is the very best in town, even better than the other ones you mention (although those are good too). I also think North Pond is wonderful and worth considering, because it combines excellent cuisine with an exquisite location in the middle of Lincoln Park.

    Mondays can be iffy because a lot of restaurants are closed on Mondays. However, both one sixtyblue and Aigre Doux are open Mondays. For more good places open Mondays, see

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      thanks...yeah money is not an issue, I could care less if I spend 50 or 150 a person, really, as long as I get a great meal. As far as tasting menus go I have never been a fan...

      1. re: nsxtasy

        if you had to choose between onesixtyblue and table 52 which would you choose;
        how is the atmosphere at each?

        1. re: jamtart12

          The atmosphere at one sixtyblue is upscale and hip. The restaurant's decor is classy and vaguely contemporary (not "hit you over the head contemporary", if you know what I mean). The few interior walls are charcoal colored. The main dining room has an open kitchen along one side, and windows along the opposite side. The seating is quite spacious, lending an air of privacy (unlike some other restaurants where you're so close to the adjacent tables that you feel like you're sharing their conversations). The service is excellent - attentive to details without becoming overbearing.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            thanks, very good description, sounds like i would love it

            how about Table 52?

            1. re: jamtart12

              Haven't been there, sorry - hopefully someone who has can answer...

      2. My personal fave in Chicago is Tru, but not sure of your price point. I went to Aigre Doux a few months ago and I wasn't too impressed. First of all, we had to wait 20 minutes past our 9pm reservations to even be seated. The disappointing start was followed by decent food at best. Also went to Table 52 in December and the food didn't match the hype. Definitely overrated. In the past, I've enjoyed Le Lan, but I know that the chef has changed a few times. Blackbird is a good choice.

        Good luck!

        1. I agree with yumyum, I've been to Aigre Doux and wasn't impressed. I was at Sepia last Thursday and if you like organs and meat it is for you. I was there with some friends from California and they were a bit turned off by the lack of variety of non-redmeat but I still thought the food was great. Some of my favorite restaurants in the city (Alinea, Schwa, TRU, Arun's) are tasting menus so you really shouldn't shy away from them. Actually, now that I think about this I highly recommend Avenues which has a tasting menu but you can pick off of the tasting menu a la carte - delicious. You may run into some issues with restaurants being closed on Mondays. Blackbird is ALWAYS good.

          1. When we have friends come in from out of town or out of the country, these are our go-to spots: Spring, NaHa, Blackbird and Custom House. They are all winners. I've not spent much time in Boston, so I don't know how relative they are to the places you mentioned. Spring is the only one not open on Mondays. It's in an old bath house, which is really noticable in the bar (in a good way). Service is top notch. Blackbird has a lively atmosphere, especially if Chef Kahan is in the house when it's always more fun. NaHa incorporates the inspiriation of the local ingredients into the descriptions on the menu and has a very classy service and atmosphere. Custom House has a calming atmosphere and always a killer menu. You should know that that Custom House and Spring are both Shawn McClain restaurants, but you would never know it. They could not be more different. You didn't ask, but if you're looking for a casual place for breakfast, as a local I recommend Orange in the south loop (go early), or head up to Roscoe Village (great post-breakfast wandering).