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Province, Eve, Aigre Doux or Graham Elliot

Spending the weekend in Chicago. Already booked at Alinea on Friday, need help picking a restaurant for Sat lunch and Sat dinner. Was thinking Province, Aigre Doux, Graham Elliot for Sat night. We've already eaten at Sepia, Moto, Blackbird, mk......loved them all. Please help me decide.All suggestions welcome.

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  1. We have so many contemporary American type restaurants and so many of them are excellent! It's a difficult decision. I loved Aigre Doux, haven't been to the others. I also recommend Cafe des Architectes and North Pond.

    Keep in mind that most such places are not open for lunch on Saturday, so that may be a deciding factor for that meal. However, many of the steakhouses and most ethnic neighborhood restaurants are open for Saturday lunch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      >> Keep in mind that most such places are not open for lunch on Saturday (nsxtasy)

      >> Not sure if Aigre is open during lunch. (jbontario)

      Cafe des Architectes is open for lunch during the week and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

      Eve is open for lunch during the week. There's a discrepancy in the weekend hours for Eve between Eve's own website and Opentable. Their own website says they are open for lunch on Saturdays but doesn't mention Sundays; their listing on Opentable says they are open for brunch on Sundays but doesn't mention Saturdays.

      Province is open for lunch during the week, but not on Saturday or Sunday.

      North Pond is open for brunch on Sundays, not open for lunch/brunch any other days of the week.

      Aigre Doux and Graham Elliot are not open for lunch at all.

    2. Are you sure you can snag a reservation at all these places so late in the week?

      1. Sorry for the confusion, I'm spending next(the) weekend in Chicago. And by checking Opentable most of all the mentioned still have many openings.

        1 Reply
        1. re: skypilot

          Yes, Opentable makes it easy to check a lot of places for openings at the same time.

          Regarding availability, if you need a reservation for a night other than Saturday, you can often get a desirable time even at the last minute for all but a very few restaurants that you can count on your fingers (Alinea, Table 52, Gibson's, and I'm not even sure what else). Saturday nights are tighter, but you can still often find reservations without too much trouble. When checking Opentable, I am usually surprised by how many great places DO have availability, rather than how many DON'T. Also keep in mind that occasionally a place that doesn't show availability on Opentable can still accommodate you if you try phoning them.

          Bottom line is this: If there's a place you want to go, try checking on Opentable, and calling if necessary; don't just assume that they won't have availability.

          Unfortunately, the economic recession is creating a lot more availability now, too.

          Just to give you an idea about last-minute availability, I'm going to check Opentable now (Thursday night) for THIS COMING Saturday night, even though you (skypilot) are not coming till NEXT weekend. And right now, Saturday night is wide open at Aigre Doux, Eve, Graham Elliot, and Cafe des Architectes; North Pond has 5:45 and 8:45, nothing in between, and Province has nothing.

        2. I too really like Aigre Doux, but I also recently had a great meal at Province--they specialize in organic ingredients and varying sizes of plates so it's a great share place. You can't go wrong with either. Not sure if Aigre is open during lunch. Graham Elliot redid the menu about 4 months ago and I have not tried it, but I think there are other reviews on this site post-menu change.

          1. I have been to all four. It really depends on what you are looking for. Graham Elliot is more "avant garde" if you will, Province is Latin fusion (or something similar to Latin fusion), Aigre Doux is French/American, and the most like Eve. I would take Province out... I did not really like the ambiance or the food all that much. The other three I enjoyed, both in food and atmosphere., so I would go by the menus online to see which you prefer.

            Have you been to Schwa?

            1. Providence, Aigre Doux and Graham are all ok . My favorite restaurants is Blackbird. If you liked that then I would go to L20 for dinner. food was amazing. Also Tru is pretty good too.Lunch RL or For a little more casual then try Publican on Fulton its one of Paul( the Chef from Blackbird) and Donnies place. Also Avec is really fun too

              3 Replies
              1. re: cabo91

                L2O and TRU are both entirely different places from the restaurants being asked about in this topic, and both will both cost twice as much as these. Avec is also an entirely different place in every way, and the communal seating and no-reservations policy may rule it out for the OP's needs. Providence???

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Actuall there not Aliena is in the same catagory as Tru and L20. Providence was really disappointing

                  1. re: cabo91

                    The OP already has a reservation at Alinea, and is asking about four LESS EXPENSIVE restaurants to go along with his/her splurge at Alinea. Unless you go crazy with alcohol/wine, you probably won't spend more than about $100 per person at Province, Eve, Aigre Doux or Graham Elliot - the four restaurants that this topic is about. The OP is clearly not looking for another super-expensive ($200-300+/pp) super-fancy restaurant to go along with dinner at Alinea.

                    > Providence was really disappointing

                    I'm pretty sure there is no restaurant in Chicago called Providence - LOL!!!

              2. After reading many posts, special thanks to nsxtasy, I'm thinking Province as my other dinner choice. I'm considering also North Pond and still curious about Eve. I'm doing Sunday brunch at David Burke and leaning Topolobampo for Friday lunch with Sat lunch open, maybe something fun and casual. Any other comments about Province, North Pond and Eve appreciated.

                6 Replies
                1. re: malan

                  That sounds like a great itinerary!

                  I'd like to describe North Pond, since I haven't done so yet in this topic. The cuisine is contemporary American, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients, from James Beard Award nominated Chef Bruce Sherman. What is unique about North Pond is its setting. It's in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park itself, not just the surrounding neighborhood of the same name), facing its namesake pond, with the city skyline towering over the opposite shore. The renovated building once served as the warming shelter for ice skaters on the pond. The front dining room has full-length windows, so you can look out on the pond and skyline, as well as the people, joggers, dogs, etc walking past the restaurant. The other dining room has an open kitchen along one side, and is quite charming as well. So while the cuisine is excellent, it's the setting that really sets North Pond apart as a very special place in the fabric of our city. (Sorry, I haven't been to Eve or Province.)

                  For Saturday lunch, you have options, including ethnic places of all sorts, and cheap eats (e.g. deep-dish pizza, Italian beef, etc) as well as steakhouses and seafood restaurants. Most other upscale restaurants are not open for lunch on Saturdays, but there are exceptions; for example, I believe Cafe Spiaggia, one of our very best mid-priced Italian restaurants, is open for lunch on Saturdays.

                  Another option is to flip your lunches on Friday and Saturday; instead of doing Mexican for lunch on Friday, go to one of the Mexican restaurants for brunch on Saturday. Unlike most other restaurants, quite a few of our better Mexican restaurants serve brunch on Saturdays, including Frontera Grill and Mundial Cocina Mestiza. I wouldn't do that AND lunch at Topolobampo on Friday, just for the sake of variety, but you might want to check out the Saturday brunch menus on their websites, to see if that might be equally appealing. Just a thought!

                  1. re: malan

                    RL is always a fun lunch on Saturday, not always easy to get a reservation. A bit stuffy, but always packed and a fun lunch menu.

                    1. re: ChgoJeff

                      My Saturday lunch experience at RL was disappointing. I was actually entertaining and dining with a "celebrity" -- an Olympic Gold Medalist. It was stuffy. It was overpriced. I went home hungry and I only hoped my guest wasn't also hungry.

                      I wouldn't choose it again.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        chicgail, I couldn't agree more... I ate at RL for the first time last week (after hearing many of my business associates rave about it for some time) and was quite disappointed. After starting out with some amazing oysters, the rest of the meal was decidely mediocore - very bland and I also left hungry. There are too many good restaurants in Chicago to waste money and calories on RL.

                    2. re: malan

                      Malan - how was Province? We're doing a similar food tour in Chicago (Table 52 and Alinea on the books so far) and we just heard about Province. The menu looks really nice!!

                      1. re: teejaymoore

                        I've really enjoyed my meals at Province. It is one of the better new modern restaurants that opened recently. Disagree with comment above that Province is Latin fusion. That is Mr. Zweiban's background given his many years at Nacional 27. At Province, aside from a few items like the Taquito or Ceviches, the rest of the menu is very global. I also like their format, not specifically small plate, but you can order in different configurations. They're one of the few places that offer the most # of entrees in half size portions. Service is professional and friendly, and the atmposphere has a lively vibe.

                    3. One gripe about Eve. Ate there last night. My wife asked for a refill for her Coke. Discovered that we were charged for both the original order and the refill ($3 each). When I questioned the charge, our server replied that they have to open a new bottle every time a customer requests a Coke, refill or not. If that is true (which I doubt), this may be the only restaurant in Chicago with a bar that buys its Cokes in small bottles.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mr_jerry

                        With the exception of chains like Friday's, Chili's, Cheesecake Factory, etc, most nicer restaurants charge for each refill on soft drinks.

                      2. Just came back from Eve. Literally. It is a good contender for 2nd tier (notch below Spiaggia, Avenues, Tru) contemporary restaurant in the Gold Coast area. The place is romantic without being staid, there is a lively buzz and an overall sexy feel. The food is very solid. Mr Graves is going for traditional preparations that somehow feels modern. Definitely better than what he is doing at Tallulah. For example, scallops with bacon. But made with excellent day boat scallop and La Quercia guanciale. An appetizer of fried oysters and tasso ham waffles. The oysters are like fried ocean wrapped in clouds. Basil lemon cake with basil anglaise. Service was professional and friendly, not overly chummy which i hate. Overall, a good niche in the area where most options are old school steakhouses or haute cuisine temples. I can't wait to go back to try more stuff on the menu.