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Jul 29, 2009 11:48 AM

So little time...

Heading to Chicago for only three nights so only three dinners. Haven't been to Charlie Trotters in over 10 years -- Friends, how has it held up? Am also considering TRU, Blackbird and Capital Grille. Topolo for sure. What say you natives? Thanks in advance for all thoughts.

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  1. Any particular reason for Capital Grille among all the top notch, fine dining options you've mentioned?

    3 Replies
    1. re: ms. chow

      Capital Grille is highly rated on other web sites I looked at.... Also thanks to Mountsac for review of Charlie Trotters. I was curious -- years ago I had a fabulous tasting menu there. Oh well, seems like there are other great choices these days.

      1. re: Where are my glasses

        If you are looking for steakhouses, there are far superior places here than Capital Grille. See other threads on the subject.

        1. re: Where are my glasses

          If you're trying to get a "taste" of the Chicago experience then I agree that the Chicago location of Capital Grille won't give you that (any more than Smith & Wollensky or Ruth's Chris would). Probably a good meal, but it doesn't scream local. The Saloon, the Chop House and (okay, it's from New York but has made itself at home here) David Burke's will likely be better choices. If you can make it up to Evanston, Pete Miller's has steaks and live jazz and a very retro vibe.

      2. i went to charlie trotters in late june. it was quite disappointing. the seating was cramped compared to L2O and TRU. service was great, and the wine list impressive, but the food did not taste good at all - the asian fusion was very awkward, and foam was overused and at times used inappropriately. the flavors and textures of the meal were off balance, but not in a bold and interesting way. for the grand tasting menu, the proportion of dessert courses was also too high. overall a very overrated and overpriced place (there was no luxrious ingredient; not sure where all the money went toward). for my money, i would take L2O or TRU over charlie trotters any day of the week!

        1. I'm surprised that Alinea is not on your list. Far more innovative, but in a similar price range as TRU and Trotters. Alinea is a must for people who love food and it's an extraordinary option that is available only in Chicago.

          With 3 nights and all options open I would probably go for Alinea, Topo and either TRU or Blackbird, depending on what kind of experience I would want the third night to be. TRU being the more extravagant and elegant of the two, but Blackbird being right up there in fine dining.

          Capital Grille is a decent meal: a good steak, but it is a DC-based operation (Capital...) and to my mind a steak is a steak is a steak.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chicgail

            Just a quick note of correction (very common misunderstanding). The first Capital Grill was actually iin Providence Rhode Island (also a capital). If it were DC, the name would likely to be the Capitol Grill since its location is not too far from the Capitol itself.

            For steaks, I agree David Burke's (actualy the predecessor to NYC's one), Keefer's (Chicago original), or Joe's (a Chicago/Miami hybrid) are really the best. That being said, the Kona Coffee rub on the Capital Grill dry-aged NY Strip (not always on the menu) is really good.

            1. re: jbontario

              Thanks. Good to know, jbontario. I stand both corrected and slightly embarrassed by my spelling error and my assumption about the restaurant's origins.

              1. re: jbontario

                I was referring to Burke's NY B.R. Guest lineage. Some people take exception to Lettuce Entertain You restaurants for being too corporate-y, so I was noting that it wasn't exactly a one-off. I happen to like the B.R. Guest offerings, but I know others would scoff.

            2. Myself and Kevin wrote long reviews of Trotters if you search - it ranks only with The French Laundry, Providence, La Folie, and Le Bernardin in terms of overall experience and the food was as good as any I've ever tasted.