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Avenues or Charlie Trotter?

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I recently moved back to the great white north after spending two great years in Chicago. My wife and I are planning a long weekend trip back to the city at the end of September, and are trying to decide on one "special" dinner (we can fill in the other lunches and dinners).

We've been to Alinea, TRU and Everest, as well as some of the next tier (Blackbird, North Pond, Cafe des Architectes).

I think we've narrowed in down to Avenues and Charlie Trotter's, but would love to hear some opinions on the relative merits of each, or any recent experiences. Having done a quick search, there aren't a lot of recent reviews on here for either of the two. One thing that intrigues us about Avenues is the possibility of eating at the chef's bar, so if anyone has done that recently, would be very grateful if you would share your experience. Is there a similar option at Charlie Trotter's? I seem to remember something about them having a kitchen table, but my memory is hazy on the details.

Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Charlie Trotter's
816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

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

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  1. Well, just in case you don't get any other replies...

    Trotter's kitchen table is four or six people only, so you'd have to be in the dining room.

    Avenues is a bar set up, so two works nicely. The seats are comfortable and you look directly into a small kitchen. From what I recall one guy normally has his back to you most of the time and then two or three will face you. There's no glass window or anything, so you can chit chat.

    I haven't been to either recently, so I can't comment on the current state of things.

    Personally, based on the fact that the bar sounds interesting to you and recent reviews, I'd go Avenues. Here's Curtis Duffy's blog: http://www.curtisduffy.com/ Looking at it makes me want to get back there asap.

    1. Food-wise, I like Avenues more than Charlie Trotter's. Both have good service. Also, Duffy is always there, and Trotter is often MIA from the kitchen. So if you're looking forward to looking at chefs in action, go to Avenues.

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      Charlie Trotter's
      816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

      1. Just as an update, I ended up booking Avenues for the Friday night we're in town, and requested that we be seated at the chef's bar.
        Curtis Duffy (back when he was at Alinea) was a guest chef for an evening at one of our favourite restaurants in Toronto a few years back, so we're eager to easy how his cooking and style have evolved since striking out on his own.

        Will definitely report back on our experience, also happy to hear any recent reviews on Avenues in the meantime.

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        Alinea
        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614