HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

Discussion

Yes/No to my researched list...this weekend

  • 4
  • Share

All:

I've read through the posts for the Chicago Area, as well as doing some research on my own. I'm flying to Chicago to basically dine at Alinea Sunday night. But while I'm there, thought I'd look up some other fantastic places to eat.

I can only fit in four meals (assuming I'm not tempted by anything at "Taste of Chicago", and my ideas are:
2 Brunches: MHenry and Bongo Room
2 Dinners: Purple Pig and Alinea

So here are my question:
1) Sweet & Savories...dinner or brunch? Should I forgo one of the options and go to Sweet & Savories instead?
2) Is Purple Pig along the same concept as St. John's Bread & Wine in London?
3) Took Frontera Grill as a brunch option off the list...is that a mistake?
4) Any other suggestions?

Thank you!

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Bongo Room
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. 2) Is Purple Pig along the same concept as St. John's Bread & Wine in London?

    I'm not familiar with St John's but Purple Pig is basically a small plates place where you can order a lot of different items and share. The place itself is also quite small and they don't take reservations. Here's a link to their menu-
    http://www.thepurplepigchicago.com/me...
    We love it and it's been getting a lot of positive reviews both on the boards here and around the city.

    3) Took Frontera Grill as a brunch option off the list...is that a mistake?

    I would suggest adding it back to your list. Frontera is different than the other places you've picked and is also a great place and the margaritas are amazing. Warning that it can get crowded as well, so arrive early if you don't want to wait too long. They only take a very limited number of reservations, but you could call and try.

    Sounds like you'll have a great weekend of eating!

    -----
    Frontera Grill
    445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

    1. >> I can only fit in four meals (assuming I'm not tempted by anything at "Taste of Chicago", and my ideas are:
      >> 2 Brunches: MHenry and Bongo Room
      >> 2 Dinners: Purple Pig and Alinea

      My opinions on these four: I love M. Henry and it's a great place for all kinds of creative brunch items, regardless of whether you prefer sweet or savory items for brunch. There are two downsides: it's not particularly convenient to get to from downtown, and waits for a table after 9:30 on Sundays can be excessive. I love Bongo Room, too, for its creative pancakes with sauces, but it may have less appeal to those who don't enjoy sweeter dishes for brunch.

      I haven't been to Purple Pig but it's getting raves from those who love pork; the big caveat is that they don't take reservations, and wait times for a table, especially on weekends but even during the week, can be extensive and frustrating. Alinea is great, everything you've heard about it is true.

      >> 1) Sweet & Savories...dinner or brunch? Should I forgo one of the options and go to Sweet & Savories instead?

      I haven't been there for brunch, mostly because I haven't been overly impressed by the brunch menu on their website. For dinner, I thought it was pretty good - not the best in town (I prefer Cafe des Architectes or North Pond for contemporary American, La Sardine or Brasserie Jo for French bistro - S&S bridges those two cuisines) but not bad and a good value too.

      >> 2) Is Purple Pig along the same concept as St. John's Bread & Wine in London?

      I haven't been to SJB&W.

      >> 3) Took Frontera Grill as a brunch option off the list...is that a mistake?

      I don't think it's a mistake. See below.

      If I were you, here's what I would consider doing.

      For the brunches, both M. Henry and Bongo Room are breakfast-oriented restaurants. No, they're not the same, but they're similar enough that I wouldn’t do both. I would go to one of them on Saturday, when waiting times for tables aren't as bad as Sundays. For Sunday, I would instead go to a place that does an a la carte Sunday brunch; such brunches tend to feature both breakfast-oriented and dinner-oriented dishes. As another benefit of these in addition to diversifying your itinerary, many of them accept reservations, which is another big advantage on Sundays, when the breakfast places experience long lines. As for which brunch to do on Sunday, there are lots of choices. My top pick would probably be North Pond, for its contemporary American cuisine as well as for its lovely setting in the park. There are lots of others including Perennial, as well as Sweets & Savories if its menu appeals to you. Check Opentable.com which has descriptions of brunches; anything listed there accepts reservations. Oh, and this strategy rules out Frontera Grill, which is only open for brunch on Saturdays, which would mean you would be hitting Bongo Room or M. Henry on Sunday, their busiest day.

      For the dinners, keep the Alinea reservation, of course. If you like pork and you don't mind risking a likely lengthy wait, keep your plan to go to Purple Pig. If you like pork and you don't want to risk a lengthy wait, see if you can get a reservation at the Publican (don't forget to mention whether you prefer your own table or the communal seating). If you're not committed to pork, there are SO MANY places to consider, but I would recommend going to a place where you can make a reservation, since this is (presumably) for a Saturday evening. I can make more specific suggestions if you have a particular type of food in mind.

      HTH

      2 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        thank you both so much!

        okay, so MHenry for brunch on saturday is what i'm aiming for, and then somewhere that can take reservation for sunday brunch. my thoughts are sunday was staying away from new american given the alinea meal...or am i just over thinking this?! will definitely look into north pond (weather is suppose to nice on sunday as well).

        as for saturday night dinner...would anyone recommend that i go for chicago style hot dogs and deep dish pizzas versus either purple pig or sweet & savory? (btw, no reservations available for architectes). but really would have to be a "can't miss" thing since i'm not a big fan of either...

        1. re: misc1774

          >> my thoughts are sunday was staying away from new american given the alinea meal...or am i just over thinking this?! will definitely look into north pond (weather is suppose to nice on sunday as well).

          Alinea, with its emphasis on molecular gastronomy, is very, very different from most places that specialize in contemporary American cuisine. I think you'll find that North Pond does not seem like a "repeat" in any way. Even more so if you're there for brunch rather than dinner. However, see below, because there's also Saturday night dinner.

          >> as for saturday night dinner...would anyone recommend that i go for chicago style hot dogs and deep dish pizzas versus either purple pig or sweet & savory? (btw, no reservations available for architectes). but really would have to be a "can't miss" thing since i'm not a big fan of either...

          First of all, you say there are no reservations available for Cafe des Architectes, but when I look on Opentable for this Saturday for a party of two, they're wide open. You might want to check again, if that's where you'd like to go.

          However, Cafe des Architectes and Sweets and Savories are both contemporary American, with a bit of a French accent. ;) Although I would not consider it to be similar to Alinea, I'm not sure I would include it AND North Pond in the itinerary - that might be a bit too much contemporary American in the itinerary.

          As for Purple Pig on a Saturday night, you may find yourself with a wait as long as an hour, maybe even two hours. For me that would be a deal-breaker, but maybe you don't mind waiting that long...?

          I like hot dogs and I love deep-dish, but I would go somewhere for a nice-ish dinner on a Saturday night if I were visiting. Both Cafe des Architectes and Sweets and Savories are good choices if you don't mind the possibility of loading up your itinerary with contemporary American cuisine. However, if you want to add a little diversity to your itinerary, you might consider some other cuisine for either your Saturday night dinner, or your Sunday brunch. Some of the kinds of food that come to mind, just to give you a few ideas - Mexican (Salpicon or Mexique), pan-Asian (Sunda or Red Light), tapas (Mercat a la Planxa), Latin fusion (Carnivale), seafood (Shaw's or Hugo's), Italian (Cafe Spiaggia or Coco Pazzo), or French bistro (La Sardine or Brasserie Jo). All of these places accept reservations on Opentable.com so there's no worry about long waits for a table like there would be at Purple Pig.