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Jul 23, 2008 01:10 PM

Sunday Night in Chicago

First off, this is a great board with some great contributors - very nice to see. Have only been to Chicago once before and was at a music festival so didn't really do much in the way of chowing.

This time we are on a bit of a food tour August 1-5, and am having trouble with Sunday night reservations. Friday night we don't get in until a bit late, so we will probably just go to Hot Chocolate whenever we get settled (the GF loved the mac and cheese there). Saturday I managed to get reservations at Moto, which, rightly or wrongly, I've always wanted to eat at. Monday I've got a reservation at Tru, but am thinking that may have been a rookie mistake (what - I have to wear a jacket?!?!), but Monday seems to be a tough night also. Can't seem to get in to Alinea on Sunday, and it looks to be one of the better restaurants that happen to be open Sunday nights. Blackbird will have to be a lunch stop Monday or Tuesday.

So..... any bright ideas for Sunday night for a nice dinner? Don't get me wrong - it doesn't have to be expensive.

(How did this become a sticky- can mod move this to "regular" board please?)

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  1. Hmmm - suspiciously quiet. Perhaps I spoke too soon. Here is the itinerary thus far - comments welcome.

    Saturday Dinner - Moto
    Sunday Dinner - Alinea (pulled some strings)
    Monday Dinner - Tru (still wondering if this is a mistake - should I try L20 instead?)
    Tuesday Lunch - Blackbird

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cereal Killer

      All of these would be on the list of most Chicagoans top-ten fine dining experiences, including L20 (the most interesting newcomer on the block). Don't you want to relax with a simple pizza or steak/frites one night? As far as Tru is concerned, the only thing I have to say is that I'd hate to be the act following Alinea.

    2. Yeah, I'm with jbw - do something a bit more casual, or you're going to be suffering from palate (and possibly fanny) fatigue! Go get some pizza and beer at Piece or Coalfire or something

      1321 W Grand Ave Ste 2, Chicago, IL 60642

      Piece Restaurant
      1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

      3 Replies
      1. re: leek

        Thanks JBW and Leek. My dilemma now is that people are saying we shouldn't miss Avec...


        1. re: Cereal Killer

          Avec is great, and casual. It's the same owner as Blackbird, so you may see some similarities in the food. Note that they don't take reservations, so prepare for a wait....

          1. re: Cereal Killer

            Avec would work nicely. It's basically a small-plate venue run by the folks at Blackbird, so you could limit your intake if you're feeling overwhelmed by past and future repasts. Non-reservation, casual, communal-style, occasionally loud and tight.

        2. Avec is good, as everyone has said, but I think there are a number of other restaurants that deserve trying over this (assuming you're not going to go the pizza route). I would recommend Table Fifty-Two, Art Smith's restaurant. Reservations are difficult to come by but they are open Sunday nights. BTW--I was fortunate enough to dine at L2O Saturday night and it is a top-notch operation. I would advise that if you're not a diehard seafood lover, then you probably would like Tru better as you'll get a better mix of everything. Almost every dish (outside of the desserts) has fish in it. Pork belly (which was amazing) was the only non-seafood dish we had that night.

          You might want to also look into C-House in the Affinia Hotel, Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant. I haven't presonally eaten there but am definitely itching to try it. I recently ate at Graham Elliott (former chef of Avenues) and highly recommend it as well. Enjoy your stay in Chicago.

          1. Just thought of one more place I've recently eaten at and enjoyed: Graham Elliott (former chef of Avenues). I ate here the second week it opened and would recommend it. I'd say it has a couple of tweaks to work out on the menu but I imagine the place will only get better with time and I would definitely go back.

            1. I would skip Tru. The servive is still top notch but the cuisine has been far from cutting edge for a long time. Why not do something totally different for your other night? Go to Chinatown for Peking Duck (Phoenix does a good job) or go to Smoque for great BBQ. Moto and Alinea back to back is going to be rough. I think by Monday you are going to need some honest, delicious food; sans the foam and theatrics.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Doogie Houndser M.D.

                Thanks everyone. I think Tru is being ditched in favour of something else. It won't be Peking Duck though, as I eat a LOT of Asian food in Toronto.

                Table fifty-two, Graham Elliott, Smoque and Coalfire are all closed Monday night. Any other sure fire Pizza or Italian places to try? Cafe Spiaggia? Giordino's? Either that or it's line up at Avec.


                1. re: Cereal Killer

                  stay away from the chain Giordano's probably the worst pizza in town.

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    We made it back - 5 lbs heavier and a lot of $$ lighter.

                    Quick reviews:

                    Moto - 20 course tasting menu and wine pairings. Lots of interesting flavours, some magical moments and a lot of Willy Wonka. Service was a bit nervous with staff rapidly attempting to describe the courses and wines. Very very good, but just not as good as ...

                    Alinea - unbelievable 15 course tasting menu and wine pairings. Forget Willy Wonka and think more like Harry Houdini. The food was stupendous, the wine pairings perfect (I found some of the Moto pairings too sweet) and the service absolutely flawless and ridiculously informative.

                    Gino's East - unbearable service. Nobody would take our order. No water. No drinks. Nothing. Takeout counter staff complained to the slob of a manager that we weren't being served. He just stared at us to the point that it was creepy and uncomfortable. It became so bad that the takeout server, once the manger left, actually took pity on us, came over and put our order in for us. The pizza, when it finally came, was delicious. The salad was OK. The dressing (thank god it was on the side) was atrocious. However, I would never go back. In hindsight, there must have been a shift change because once the food came, we had a very friendly server.

                    Hot Chocolate - kitchen is slipping. Not as good as our last visit. Mac & Cheese was good. My burger was raw. Not rare (it was ordered "the way the chef makes it), but raw. Disgusting. The free brownie on the way out the door didn't make up for it. Wasn't offered a second beer either.

                    Avec - we went during the tornado warning on Monday. Service was very very good. When they didn't have the wine I ordered a very nice replacement was suggested and given at the same price. Food was also very very good. Had the dates, a wonderful cod in spicy tomato sauce and a half order of the prosciutto. We didn't even notice that the kitchen had flooded!

                    Blackbird - lunch was spot on. Service was a bit over the top (for lunch, that is) but the food was very inventive with a wonderful mix of flavours and textures. Lamb burger was tastier than it had any right to be, and the duck pastrami was unique and excellent. Salads were equally great, as were the champagne cocktails and wine.


                    1. re: Cereal Killer

                      Sorry to hear you went to Gino's East. What a sorry place that is. If there's a next time, I could give you SO many other suggestions.