How were recent experiences with Eve?
I'm trying to schedule a nice birthday dinner for my wife. We have not tried Eve but the restaurant has a good-looking menu and has been getting some good press. But also interested in chowhounds' views of the restaurant. In particular, how does it compare with some of the old standards like Blackbird, MK, North Pond, Naha, etc. Is it in the same league as these places or not? Many thanks!!
Not sure what you mean by recent. Mr. CG took me there about 6 months ago. He said i sounded good and romantic and he liked the menu. We haven't been back. While I know that many people have raved about it, we were disappointed. The food was ok, not great. The atmosphere was good, but not special.
Conversely we went to North Pond about a month ago and were blown away by the food, the wine, the service and the ambiance. Naha is a perennial favorite for us. MK and Blackbird, also very good, but not at the top of the list.
I also love Mexique, Publican, Sola and Perennial. They're all a little more casual than the others you mention, but the food and service is always thoughtful and well-prepared.
Other top hits on our list are Takashi, Sepia and Spring.
Not a good experience at all: I ate there in November and it was one of my worst meals in 2009 (especially on a bang-for-buck dimension).
There were five of us in our group: we are all in our early to mid-twenties, but well-versed in food and very well-appointed. I don't know whether our young age was a factor, but we were treated like second-class citizens: 45 minutes between when we sat down and when we got our drinks, another hour between appetizers and dinner, and mediocre food (over-salted, unexciting presentation) to boot. The service was terrible: when ordering drinks, I ordered a gin and tonic with Tanqueray 10 -- they didn't have Tanq 10. Another in our party ordered a French 75 -- the waitress had never heard of one.
For the prices at Eve, I'd rather go to Blackbird, Perennial, Boka, or North Pond anyday!
I am surprised to see the bad reviews - I've only been to Eve twice, but both experiences were really great.
Went for dinner about 6 months ago, and was impressed by the food, atmosphere and service. Can't tell you what we had - have eaten out quite a bit since then! But remembered it as a favorite.
Just went back for lunch this week and really loved it. Started with a smoked whitefish cake over a spicy pepper sauce that was really, truly nice - crispy and hearty. Just got a lamb burger, as it was lunch, but was impressed by the quality of the burger - thick, good quality lamb, good feta cheese and a nice twist with avocado slices and chopped dried apricots. It was huge - had to divide it in half for 2 meals - but really tasty. The frites were a little overcooked for my taste, but I didn't really care bc I was enjoying the burger so much! My friend got the mushroom tart with prunes, watercress and a sherry vinaigrette that she said was great. The vegetarian choices were really lacking outside of the salad options, so she just got a side of mac and cheese for lunch, but it looked like she wasn't a bit unhappy about it. The mac and cheese was the creamy style that I am a big fan of.
As for dessert - we ordered the s'more to split and were pretty pleased about it, but instead were brought a complimentary chocolate PB pot de creme due to "technical difficulties" in the kitchen (?). Not sure what that meant exactly, but the pot de creme was very nice - just not quite what we were in the mood for. Great chocolate, though, and the server was very apologetic and polite.
Anyway - I would definitely recommend Eve for a romantic birthday dinner - I think it compares very favorably to your list, in the same category for me at least. I actually recommended it to a friend for a business dinner this week and he raved about it - said that it was perfect.
FWIW, I found Takashi disappointing. It wasn't bad, but there wasn't a single dish that really "wowed" me. OTOH I've had several dinners at Cafe des Architectes and all have been superb. If you're looking for a place in that milieu of contemporary American casual fine dining, I think Cafe des Architectes has been as good as anywhere in the city and consistently so, in my experience. www.cafedesarchitectes.com
Let us know where you end up and how you like it!
I agree with nsxtasy - maybe my expectations were too high from all the raves I'd heard re Takashi - but I had dinner there about a month ago and really wasn't that impressed with the food. The service was great - the chef himself delivered one course to us - and the restaurant is a nice, intimate size. But the food just wasn't amazing. It was all good, but not great.
Sepia, on the other hand, is a standby favorite of mine. Be sure to get their flatbreads to start! Fantastic.
It's funny- normally I agree with nsxtasy, but here I would say I've had the opposite experience. I've been to Takashi twice and had great food both times. I very much enjoyed the soup, gnocchi, and autumn roll.
On the other hand, I've been to Cafe des Architectes once and was disappointed. The food was cold, the service was rude, and the flavors were not balanced. I went on a weeknight, so maybe they weren't on top of their game?
I had dinner at Cafe des Architectes twice this past year - both on Sunday nights, once with Chef Noguier in the house, and once when he was out of town. Both times were superb, among the very best meals I had all year. I posted a detailed report on my February dinner in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598661 Everything was just wonderful, with the Saffron Fish Veloute a standout, as well as the Spice Duck Confit, the Lake Superior Whitefish, and the Duo of Beef (hanger steak and short ribs). The desserts were wonderful as well. In my second dinner, everything was again outstanding, particularly the salted caramel chocolate mousse that was featured on the cover of the November 2009 Chicago Magazine article on "Best Restaurants in Chicago: 30 under $30" ( www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/N... ). Needless to say, the food was hot, the service was impeccable, and everything went well together. Just a superb dinner in every way (and a bargain at $29 for the 3-course dinner both times).
As I noted previously, my Takashi meal (which was on a Saturday night) was entirely forgettable. The only dish that was even the slight bit impressive was a dessert, the sheep's milk panna cotta, which was good but not amazing like the desserts at CdA. I am not aware of any special bargains at Takashi; I believe I paid around $85/pp including moderate alcohol/tax/tip.
Sometimes a restaurant has an off night, but sometimes different people have different opinions. Those are mine. I encourage everyone to try them and form your own opinion!