Yes, I have read the posts, I still can't decide! Please help!
My husband Iand will be heading to Chicago next week. We have dinner reservations at Trattoria No. 10 prior to going to Jersey Boys. One evening, due to my husband being at a business meeting, I will be by myself. I would like a recommendation for a restaurant near E Lake and Michigan where we will be staying. I would prefer to walk, and I would prefer if it were close by, and of course, a place in which I would feel comfortable being alone. Good food, good wine.
My indecision is for our last evening. We are celebrating my birthday, and I just can't decide. Although, I think we will head to the Lounge at the Peninsula for the chocolate bar for dessert. I do have my priorities! I am a rather picky eater. Local chef, fresh ingredients....typical chowhound expectations. I lived in Chicago in my early 20's, and even on my student/young working woman budget, I ate well! I moved to Minneapolis, and until recently "starved" for good food. While Minneapolis has come a long way, we still only have a few restaurants that consistently serve good food. Anyway, I really want to go to Frontera, but since they don't take reservations, and we will be going on a Saturday evening, I don't know if that's worth it. We do not have Mexican food here! (Okay, we do, but......) I have cooked from Rick's cookbooks (for hours and hours), and I would love to eat there!
I like French food, but the simpler French food. Frankly, I think in Minneapolis, at least, so many chefs are trying too hard. Fresh, excellent ingredients, prepared simply is the answer.
I think my indecisiveness is due to the fact that I am making a big deal out of this being my birthday, and that we will be without our children (married 20 years next year, and I think we have been jointly away from them maybe 3 long weekends in all that time!!!) I really kind of want to do the chocolate bar thing since it just sounds fun so then Rick's place may not work with feeling too full! Finally, I have read many, many posts for hours...Blackbird, North Pond, one sixtyblue just don't do it for me when I looked at their menus. What about Custom House.....special enough?
What about Topolobampo? It sounds like you really enjoy Rick Bayless' cuisine and you could make at least make a reservation for Topo. I've never been, but it sounds right up your alley.
I'm a big fan of Spring, Shawn McClain's fish/asian influenced restaurant. I think they do an excellent job of providing fresh, delicious food in a classy, but comfortable atmosphere.
All of your other suggestions sound great. My only concern is that you said you are going to be hear next week, and you're trying to get a Saturday reservation. Where you can get a reservation may be the deciding factor!
Best of luck and I'm sure whatever you decide it will be fabulous.
"a place in which I would feel comfortable being alone. Good food, good wine."
Bin 36, right across the river--with a wide selection of wines and cheeses and starters on the first floor--along with a wine and cheese bar--is very solo friendly.
Also, right down the block from you is The Gage. Also solo friendly, with good UK food (some find it pricey, tho--location, location, location) and a pleasant bar ambience. I can't speak for their wine list, altho I'm sure they have some good selections.
As far as Custom House is concerned, it has been special enough for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. for us. Not as cutting-edge as some of the others you've mentioned but quite comfortable.
I went to Bice last night. It's farther North than maybe you'd want.(1/2 mile?), & it's Italian, not French. There were many single diners, in both the DR & in the bar area. Service, I thought was exceptional, food was very good. I didn't have anything stellar, although it was my 1st & only time dining there. I found it a bit pricy, but service great, space nice, good wine list, well executed dishes*.(online menus inaccurate-but give general idea)
158 E Ontario St, Chicago 60611
Btwn N St Clair St & N Michigan Ave
*crab cakes, spinach ravioli, spaghetti bolognese, panna cotta.
p.s. been to Salpicon several times. Enjoyed it very much.
Table 52...be there right there at 5 and they will probably take you...Oprah's former personal chef...biscuits are to die for...my waiter was so friendly....definitely a neat place to go and talk about....