Just back from eating our way through Chicago
Just returned from a four day foodfest in Chicago and thought I would report back given all the good advice I've received from the board.
Alinea (recommend) - great experience and the food was amazing flavors and fun, unique presentations. Great service and fun chatting with the next tables. Any meal that includes a course titled "swine on a swing" which involves bacon has to be good right? Regarding wine pairings - nice that they pour more if you run out during a course, but I wasn't wild about the pairings. $125 per person is relatively steep and I think you could almost do as well buying a red and a white and having them serve whichever is appropriate with the dish. They were very accomodating in that we don't love port so they replaced that with a nice champagne.
Province (recommend) - fun vibe and unique menu (bites, small, big, bigger, etc.). A little confusing but server was fun and informative and the food was very good. Can't say it's a "new favorite" but really good food and fun to try.
Table 52 (recommend with caveat) - Great home cooking as always (I could live on those herb goat cheese biscuits) but somewhat spotty service. Pretty slow and not very professional compared to what I've had there before. Big pet peeve when they do a huge pour of wine either in an effort to have you order more or to avoid having to come back to the table as frequently. I've sat at the bar the other times I've been there and likely would do this next time I go back. Also saw a four top order four hummingbird cakes. The pieces are HUGE (our table of four split one piece) and think it's poor form to not warn the diners and suggest they share (similar to when Maggianos used to not tell you that a piece of their lasagna could feed two people).
David Burke's Primehouse (don't really recommend) - Very good food but spotty, slow service. The special foie gras menu they had was fun and interesting but they were out of the Porterhouse. They explained it as they have "one cow" which they viewed as cool. My view is when I go to a steakhouse I want the cut I want not what they happen to have left. If I wanted limited options I would buy my own side of beef and eat at home. In my opinion - I would stick to your old Chicago favorite (in our case the original Morton's) if you want a good steak.
Downtown Dogs - Great to have my Chicago dog fix right by our hotel with the nuclear green relish.
Lux Bar - great sunny lunch outside but mediocre food. frankly should have stuck to our old favorite - the Original Pancake House next door (can't believe the place is still standing since it's on some of the most expensive real estate in the city).
The only place we missed was Salpicon. We couldn't squeeze it in, but our local friends informed us it's just as good as when we lived there.
As an aside - we are big winos from California and like nice bottles but hate paying 200% + mark up. We ordered several bottles of wine from Sams Wine and Spirits which has an unbelievable selection of wines from around the world. For $12, they will deliver them to your hotel and we took a bottle each night at dinner. I am more than happy to pay the restaurant's corkage policy as realize they need their profit, but this way we enjoyed much better wine for a better price (example: $50 bottle + $20 corkage is only $70 and the same bottle of wine would be well above $100 in the restaurant). We also tended to buy more and Province waived our corkage fee since we also ordered cocktails and another very nice bottle of wine.
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
1252 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610
David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
161 N Jefferson, Chicago, IL 60661
Table fifty-two Restaurant
52 West Elm Street, Chicago, IL 60610
18 East Bellevue, Chicago, IL 60611
804 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611