Chicago Chef Week - March 22-28, 2010
This is another one of those promotions in which restaurants are offering bargain-priced meals. In this case, there are 21 restaurants participating, at a price for 3 courses of $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner. It includes some of our most well-known restaurants for casual fine dining. You can find more details at www.chicagochefweek.com
Does anyone know why Chef Week followed on the heels of Restaurant Week? Has there been a Chef Week previously? Just wondering if they found it a good way to fill tables during the week and wanted to keep that momentum going.
I ate at two places during the week, Vie in Western Springs and Lockwood in the Palmer House. Both were good experiences and a good way to try a new restaurant, especially Vie which is normally a little out of my price range. Lockwood was good but being the restaurant just off a very noisy lobby in the Palmer House, the atmosphere wasn't all that inviting. But the food and service were good.
>> Does anyone know why Chef Week followed on the heels of Restaurant Week?
I think the proximity in time of these two promotions (as well as the one by Chicago Originals) is a reflection of the desire by restaurants to increase business during the post-holiday cold weather months, which is normally their slowest season.
>> Has there been a Chef Week previously?
I don't know. There have been other, similar "Restaurant Week" promotions in the past couple of years; in addition to this one and the big one promoted by the Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau, they have included one by a group of independent restaurants called "Chicago Originals", and other one by Opentable. Some restaurants participate in more than one of these promotions.
I had a wonderful lunch at Mercadito for Chicago Chef Week. Our first time there.
The chef's menu included 2 guacamoles, 2 cervices, 3 each of 3 varieties of taco, plus one desert for the table (there were two of us). For guacs, we chose the traditional which was well made and pleasant with both the right amount of kick and not too much cilantro, and a second guac of avocado that incorporated mango with pico de gallo. I may have preferred the mango, if only for its touch of sweetness. Our tacos included a chicken mole (truly finger-lickin' outstanding), mushroom and huitlacoche (also very good, but messy to eat) and a Michoacan carnitas (unusual and excellent). We didn't care for the cervices (bay scallop and mahi mahi), mainly because they weren't terribly distinct from each other. Dessert was a perfect tres leche flan.
Overall Mercadito did a very good job of incorporating a lot of regional Mexican styles of cuisine. We will likely go there again. It is part of a chain that includes 4 locations in New York.
The biggest problem we had was eating and digesting the massive amount of food we were served for lunch. No dinner that night.
Later this week we are going to try Hearty. I will report back.
108 W. Kinzie, Chicago, IL 60610
Thanks for the report!
Incidentally, six of us went to the Publican last night. We made the reservation with Chicago Chef Week in mind, but no one in our group of six was interested in getting the $30 Chef Week menu. That's why I've posted impressions of our meal in the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694755 rather than here in the Chicago Chef Week discussion. As it turns out, we didn't spend all that much more than $30/person on our food choices anyway.
Ate at Hearty for a Chef's Week dinner. We hadn't been to their new place and it was a good opportunity to try it for it's southern comfort food.
Overall, the service was both attentive and casual. Steve took the time to come to the table and chat and the overall ambiance was casual, friendly and comfortable. The restaurant was full, maybe due to the special menu, but the noise level never interfered with our conversation.
Outstanding dishes were the smoky tomato bisque -- maybe the best I've ever tasted -- and the s'mores dessert with homemade graham crackers and chili-laced chocolate that took the kids' campfire treat to an adult craving.
Fried chicken was very crisp, but a little bready and the "beefaroni" (braised short ribs off the bone on top of macaroni - no, no cheese - with winter squash and caramelized onions) was a clever dish and tasty, but not memorable for this short ribs lover.
On the never order again side, the artichoke fritters were way too bready and really needed something more than the lemon aioli to perk them up.
It reminded us of Big Jones, also southern comfort food. We were glad to try it and would go back for a pleasant snack or a casual comfort meal, but Hearty is not at the top of our list.
5347 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60640
Phil Vettel of the Tribune reports on his Chicago Chef Week meals:
Piccolo Sogno (dinner) - http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/thestew/2010/03/chicago-chef-week-piccolo-sogno.html
Province (lunch) - http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.co...