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Oct 22, 2008 04:32 PM

coming to chicago in november

I'll be traveling with my boyfriend and it's going to be a nice weekend, romantic trip for us and a chance to explore a new city together, even though we've both been to chicago separately, it'll be a new "couple" experience for us. we're big foodies here in LA and are completely ready to eat our way through chicago and obviously explore what else the city has to offer.

- i have reservations for charlie trotter's, but have also been hearing about moto - honestly both of these are not my first choice, as i really wanted to go to alinea, but if forced to choose between the two, which one would be better?

- i also have reservations for nomi the next night, but i'm not hearing anything amazing about their food, only about the view. so i was thinking of going to avec or the bristol instead as a foodie thing and then just going for drinks to the violet hour and the signature lounge or maybe even the w on the lake?

- i have brunch reservations at sepia. any other suggestions? i really like sepia so far, but am completely open to other options.

obviously in between, we'll do other touristy things like hot dogs, italian beef sandwiches, deep-dish pizza, millenium park, etc.

any recommendations or "stop, don't eat THERE!" advice would be tremendously helpful. our last few trips together haven't been so great. we're hoping for this one to be a make-up for all our bad trips.


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  1. FRIDAY - Charlie Trotter's and Moto are both good, but in different ways. Charlie Trotter's is haute cuisine at its finest - a dress-up place where everything will be perfect and wonderful. Charlie continues to change the menu constantly and to set trends. Moto is more along the lines of "molecular gastronomy", i.e. avant garde food that will provide tastes and techniques on the leading edge of the culinary world. Trotter's is more expensive and your BF will need to wear a jacket, tie optional but appropriate too; Moto is more "dressy casual" and a jacket is not required, although it wouldn't look out of place either. Both provide a unique experience, in different ways.

    Alternative suggestion, for a high-end, super-romantic dinner: Everest.

    I've been to NoMI for dinner, and the food really IS amazing. I was just thinking earlier today that it's probably the most under-recognized fine restaurant in Chicago. Chef Christophe David is doing wonderful things there. It's an excellent choice.

    I really don't care for Avec, and I absolutely would recommend against it for a Saturday evening, unless you like the idea of waiting 90-120 minutes before being seated with strangers in uncomfortable seats for food that I found to be okay but not particularly exceptional. At other, less busy times (i.e. during the week and/or late at night) it can be a fun experience, but not on weekends.

    Alternative suggestion, for excellent food in a unique setting: North Pond.

    The Violet Hour can be fun as a place more so than for the drinks. The Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock Center (I assume this is what you're referring to) is a great place for a drink on a clear day/evening, primarily for the view from the 95th Floor. Other than its location, I am not familiar with the W Lakeshore or what they offer.

    There are so many places for Sunday brunch! I haven't had the brunch at Sepia, so I can't comment on that. I *can* tell you that I love the Sunday brunch at Between in Wicker Park (whose chef was recently named to appear on "Top Chef"). I provided a detailed report on my brunches there and elsewhere in the breakfast/brunch discussion at which has lots and lots of information about brunches around town.

    Enjoy your visit!

    1. As far as your Friday plan is concerned, lately my friends and I have found Trotters to be a little lacking. It still remains excellent but it certainly has not been hitting the marks it did so effortlessly a few years back. I liked Moto but found it to be very hit or miss.

      If I may offer two separate options, each of which I find to be superior and more consistent than Charlie T's and Moto would be Rick Tramonto's Tru or Tony Mantuano's Spiaggia. Those two combined with Alinea are the Holy Trinity of Chicago dining. Never a wasted moment at either.

      On Saturday there is no disputing the supreme talent that is Christophe David, however the quality of the meal at NoMI is not commensurate with the price. Besides, the best overpriced hotel food in Chicago is just a couple of blocks down in Avenues at the Peninsula. Doing the Foodie thing then drinks at the Violet Hour is probably best, though Lula Cafe in Logan Square or Mado in Bucktown are closer to the bar and every bit as good as Avec if not better.

      As for Brunch, I've always felt that people's expectations for that meal vary wildly. For the only valuable service Metromix has ever delivered check out this link ( and see if you find something that you might enjoy more than Sepia (though that was by no means a inferior choice).

      Enjoy our fair city.