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Jun 29, 2009 10:03 AM

Visiting Chicago from Toronto-where to eat.

We will be in Chicago next week, and are wondering what's new and good to go to? We were thinking of Zealous, but a quick look on this board said that it was not as good as it used to be. We are thinking more Bistro and French since we also have a lot of Ethnic reataurants at home. Any recommendations that wont cost an arm and a leg? Zealous is/was around our price range and style. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Bistro Campagne would be my top pick. Bistro, check. French, check. It is in an old Prairie-esque house, excellent food, local organic ingredients, great staff. Chef Michael Altenberg is one of the strong proponents of local, sustainable products. It is in Lincoln Square, so a bit of hike if you are staying downtown and without a car. It is easily accessible on the Brown line, or taxi.

    Another rec would be Cafe des Architectes. Chef Noguier is French, and the food is modern, French-inspired. It is at the Sofitel, but they are definitely not just a hotel restaurant.

    Bistro Campagne
    4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

    Cafe des Architectes
    20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611

    2 Replies
    1. re: ms. chow

      I love ms. chow's suggestions. You didn't say where you're staying, but two other authentic and first rate French bistro options are Le Sardine in the West Loop and Le Bouchon in Bucktown. They're sister restaurants and both are closer to the Loop/Michigan Ave area than Campagne.

      La Sardine
      111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

      Le Bouchon
      1958 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

      1. re: chicgail

        Not a big fan of French food. But I liked these two places below. Used to like Madame Tartine for it's cosy outdoor seating on Hubbard. But it closed down recently... :(

        Kiki's Bistro
        900 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610

        Red Roostser Wine Bar and Cafe
        2100 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

    2. OK, it is a bit of a trip, but I like Froggy's French Cafe. Great French food, well-prepared, and served by a talented team of long-time waiters. I was there last month. My brother-in-law, a solid Minnesota type, enjoyed his spicy cold shrimp appetizer so much that he forgot to share it with the rest of us. For my main, I had the game meats: rabbit, venison, pheasant; a very unusual and tasty combination. They have hundreds of wines in all price ranges. I had the Vouvray for white, and an Argentine red the waiter recommended (he waved me away from another white, saying it was not worth the price). Both were delicious.

      Prices are very reasonable. For instance, their 3-hour chef's gourmet special, guaranteed to satisfy the heartiest and pickiest of appetites, is still less than 50 bucks US. It's easy to spend 30 for a plate of pasta these days; Froggy's is a bit of a bargain.

      As for getting there, yes, it is far. But really, not that inconvenient from Downtown Chicago. The Metra Union Pacific North Line (Kenosha) leaves from Ogilvie Station, and arrives in Highwood Illinois 50 comfortable, relaxing, minutes later. Sit back, read a book, drink a glass of wine (perfectly legal on Metra trains; a criminal offense on the CTA). You are then steps away from Froggy's. Enjoy a great meal, then catch the inbound train--they run until midnight or so. Fare is 8.60 round trip.

      Enjoy your Chicago stay. If you are downtown, stop by the Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue, get some travel and touring advice from a Chicago Greeter.

      1. Google "chicago restaurant menus" and you will go to a website that shows the current menus of over 3000 restaurants sorted by neighborhood and ethnicity. so you can get an idea of offerings and price. If you want a French bistro near downtown check out Bistro Zinc in the Rush Street neighborhood of restaurants. If your hotel is south of the Chicago River your neighborhood is "Loop". North of the river, it's either "Magnificent Mile" (the Michigan Avenue corridor) or "Near North Side "(from river to North Avenue) or "River West" (west of Michigan to about Orleans). "Gold Coast" is the Rush Street area.