Province or Sunda ?
Looking for a lively and exciting restaurant with good food for next Sat. night. I've read alot about Sunda and Province. Both seem very popular, with good reviews. I understand the restaurants are very different in food and style. We are eating at Alinea the previous night and want something very different. Help us choose. Also looking for some Saturday late lunch suggestions.Casual, nothing to formal. How about The Bristol, Bin 36, Hub 51, Fox and Obel etc.. Thanks.
I have not been to Sunda myself, but heard from friends that both food and service is just ok. Mind you, any establishment of Billy Dec is really more about the scene, food is secondary. So, if you are up for a night of people watching and hobnobbing, Sunda probably fits the bill. Also since you are trying to veer away from your Alinea experience, it might work given it is pan-Asian.
Province on the other hand has superior food, and the atmosphere is very lively. They have organized the menu where you can get a traditionally coursed meal, or get multiple items. I have not seen other places where they offer quite a number of entrees in half size portions. Wine list is also very extensive and does not break the bank.
Sunda just opened recently. You'll find a couple of reports for it in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604697
On the Saturday late lunch topic, Fox and Obel is a bit different from your standard sit-down restaurant. I assume you're referring to the cafe in the rear of the store (including the expanded seating area on the opposite side of the store). It's rather extreme in terms of a casual place to go with people, with its basic coffeehouse setup. I'm not dissing it - I LOVE the place - but I go there for cheap good food, rather than as a pleasant place to hang out with friends. Hope that makes sense.
As an alternative suggestion for Saturday lunch, have you considered Frontera Grill's Saturday brunch? If you'd consider heading down to Pilsen, Mundial Cocina Mestiza* is also open for brunch on Saturdays. Another couple of casual options worth considering, non-Mexican and away from downtown, are Lula in Logan Square, and M. Henry in Andersonville.
*If you'd consider other places for Saturday dinner besides Province or Sunda, Mundial Cocina Mestiza would be at the top of my list, as a place very different from Alinea, but fun, lively, with wonderful food. Carnivale is another good choice.