Illili vs. Olana
Taking my team out for a dinner first week of March. With the tough economy, don't want others in the company to view us as profligate so looking for an attractive fixed menu (each has a $35 menu I believe). We are in the ESB, so would like to keep it nearby.
I've been to both and while I enjoyed Olana a bit more ( the decor is beautiful and felt like the RW deal was fantastic) I think a group may enjoy Illili more. It has a livelier vibe, and as mentioned a lot of the dishes can be shared so w/a group you may end up being able to taste everything on the menu.
i went to ilili for new years. food was really great. went with 4 people and we shared all the deserts. The tartar was great as was the lamb. I would definitely do a repeat and recommend it to friends. I can't remember the other plates we had (i have a bad memory, the food was great!). the staff were also very friendly which is a plus!
went with friends to olana a couple weeks ago and had a very pleasant experience. of the 4 of us - 2 did the prix fixe, 1 did the pasta tasting and the 4th diner did a la carte from the regular menu. i can't remember everyone else's exact preferences so i will stick with my own. Started with the mint tacconi - which was a hearty wintery, much appreciated, pasta with rustic flavors that were just nuanced enough, then i went for the trout with artichokes and shrimp dumplings. the fish was very good, as were the accoutrements, but the dish itself wasn't quite as cohesive as it hinted at. most disappointingly, i cant remember the dessert title, but i do remember enjoying it immensely...must have been the also enjoyable champagne cocktails i was imbibing.
the atmosphere was warm and red, but not cloyingly so as it could have been, probably by virtue of the large space and high ceilings.
main qualm with the evening was spotty service. but not so spotty that i wouldnt give them a pass for a less than stellar showing at 9pm on friday night during restaurant week. i would definitely make a return trip. plus the $35 prix fixe is certainly one of the more impressive ones i've encountered anywhere around town...it doesnt feel in any way sub-par to the rest of the menu.
i havent been to ilili, so i cant make a comparison for you... but at least you have some thoughts to go off of.