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Jan 17, 2009 07:23 PM

Good sushi and pastry near the Palmer House Hilton

I've read a few threads about the Palmer House Hilton but didn't find recommendations about Japanese restaurants or bakery. Would appreciate suggestions for places within walking distance from the hotel.

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  1. For sushi, Oysy is about half a mile south of the hotel.

    For baked goods, Fox & Obel is about a mile northeast of the hotel. (Sarah's Pastries has an outlet in Macy's which is closer, but I'm not overly fond of them, whereas Fox & Obel is one of the very best bakeries in the entire city.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      nsxtasy, i also saw your comment about Fox & Obel's being a great gourmet grocery store in another thread. May I ask for your recommendations on what you consider "must-try" gourmet items at Fox & Obel (including but not limited to baked goods)? Thanks a lot!

      1. re: smilyfoodcritic

        Sure, I'll be happy to!

        F&O is really a very special place, because they do so MANY things well. (Needless to say, the downside is that their items are generally expensive, and occasionally to an extreme.) Some of them are more along the lines of basics for home cooking, while others are prepared foods for home serving or as carry-out treats. For example, their fresh meats and seafood are outstanding, but you're probably not going to be interested in those as an out-of-town visitor.

        I really love their baked goods, so I'll try to list some of my personal favorites. I'll start with breads and move towards sweets. They have a great brioche loaf, and also a rustic raisin-nut bread (that also has other fruits in it, usually apricots). Their bran muffins are the best anywhere, and so are their "cinnamon swirl" rolls. Croissants are very good too. All of these items are on one side (the north side) of the bakery counter. The opposite (south) side of the counter has sweeter items, and some of them are available pre-packaged in a refrigerated case on the east side of the counter. My favorite items are their bread pudding and chocolate brut. The bread pudding is in a muffin shape and they give you some caramel sauce on the side; it's good cold but it's great after popping it into the microwave. The chocolate brut is like a chocolate flavored version of bread pudding. They do a wonderful banana pudding (yes, with vanilla wafers) and also a great tres leches cake. These are all my favorites. They have lots of other items, including vanilla and red velvet cupcakes, fruit tarts, key lime tarts, chocolate tarts, and cookies, all of which are good but not the things I love the most.

        Elsewhere around the store, there are lots of other treats to be had. They have a lot of prepared foods at the prepared food counter, although that stuff tends to be a bit too pricey for me. There's a refrigerator case next to prepared foods where they have sauces. There's another refrigerator case over past the seafood counter where they have soups - which are consistently outstanding - and also some pre-made sandwiches (I love the roast beef and bleu cheese) and salads, if you're looking for the convenience and speed of not having to wait for those items to be prepared in the cafe. I'm not much on cheese but they have a huge cheese department. Same thing for wines. Similarly they have some more unusual packaged foods (cookies, crackers, candies, etc) that I don't generally go for.

        In the rear of the store you'll find their cafe, where you can get anything from a cup of coffee to a complete meal, made to order. They have a full menu (it's also posted on their website; click on CAFE) and they can make sandwiches, salads, etc. I love going there for breakfast, where I've had their omelets - yum! The decor is very basic coffeehouse, nothing fancy. You stand on line and pay for your order, and if it's something that requires preparation, they give you a number and you sit and they bring it to you when it's ready. Two more tips about the cafe. This is where they have restrooms available. And if you find that a certain item (e.g. cinnamon swirl rolls) is sold out at the baked goods counter, you can sometimes still find it at the cafe.

        One last tip is about parking, for those traveling to F&O by car. If you are looking for maximum convenience and don't care about the cost, you can pull up and have the valets park your car (I think it's $8 or so), but otherwise, they offer free parking while you're shopping. The parking arrangements have changed with the construction status of the property across the street over the past few years, but that's done so this is the way it should be. They offer free parking; I think you have to buy $20 of food and I'm not sure of the time limit on it. It's in the high-rise condo across the street. Drive past F&O eastbound on Illinois Street and you'll see the garage entrance ahead on the left side of the street. Drive into the underground garage and you'll find a bunch of spaces labeled as for F&O customers. Bring your packing ticket with you. Then follow the directions to walk up to ground level, and you'll walk outside on the sidewalk right across the street from F&O. After you pay for your purchases there, stop at the customer service desk at the exit, and ask for them to stamp your parking ticket with their validation.

        Hope this helps!

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thanks nsxtasy! I am amazed at your knowledge about the food scene in Chicago, and you've really piqued my interest in F&O....