Reviews from our trip: L2O, Girl/Goat, Big Star, Purple Pig
Thanks to everyone who helped me!
L2O. This was the highlight, by a long, long way. It's a nice room, quiet and peaceful (which I needed after the cab ride...the guy kept asking ME ...from south carolina...how to get there.) Our server was very correct and just friendly enough. The wine list is a VOLUME and was different from the one on line. I got a $50 cava which was quite nice and they served it in old fashioned coupes (Speiglau.)
The bread service was fantastic as expected. Honey wheet rolls, tiny baguettes, potato/garlic, milk bread rolls, rosemary croissants, and sliced "country bread". I had one of all before the night was over.
We had the 4 course option. My cold starter was a block of reasonably fatty tuna, on dried tomatos, with tiny cubes of hibiscus gel on top and partically covered in "foie gras snow" I took this to be a piece of foie frozen and shaved. Awesome texture on the foie, but I thought the tomato/hibiscus/tuna combo was a bit off. Great quaility ingredients, but not singing together all that well. Husband had Peeky Toe crab covered in a dome of avacado and surrounded by Kaffir lime gel. very delicious.
Warm app was 2 perfectly cooked scallops w/ slices of caramelized cauliflower and 2 scallop "dumplings' which were like no dumpling I've ever had, not doughy...more like a delicate oval panna cotta. I'm just guessing here. It was awesome. The plate was dotted w/ passion fruit seeds and the server poured over a sauvignon blanc vanilla sauce. Very very successful dish. My husband had prawns on saffron pasta and I really liked that as well. Lovely shrimp and perfectly delicate pappardelle noodles.
My main was Tai Snapper and deconstructed green curry. The snapper was beautiful, and a long terribly thin wafer of cumin and corriander seeds was layed on top. That was surprisingly one of the best tastes of the meal. That amazing wafer. There were several sauces on the plate involving cocnut milk, chilies, etc. Also a pile of coconut(some forgotten flavor) powder. Finally, cilantro meringues were fished out of liquid nitrogen by the server and placed on the plate. the resultant breeze brought all those aromas up to the nose. magnificent!
BTW, there were two amuse before all this started, that were quite delicious...one had the smallest, most beautiful chanterelle I've ever seen, the other a goreous herb with red leaves. i've forgoten exactly what they were. one lobster and one octopus related I think.
Also, my husband had butter poached lobster , ridiculously good, although for some reason he thought the tail was slightly overcooked and not as good as the claw. The bite I had was flawless. I've forgotten his accompaniments now...we almost finished the cava and my husband barely drinks.
Desserts were sculptural. Husband had a box of chocolate and I had a sphere of caramel, again, precise memory is failing me (a shame)
I'm very happy we choose this restaurant , as things were soon to go downhill.
Fox and Obel - God, I love that almond croissant.
Big Star - great place. Taco as Pastor and Fish taco very good. $2-3!! crazy! we also had the chicken w/ chorizo and didn't think much of it. Drank $12 worth of limeade. This is no destination, but if it opened in my neighborhood, I'd be thrilled.
The Girl and the Goat - don't bother. I can't beleive the reviews this place is getting, both here and in food magazines. I was slightly concerned before reserving it that the chef had one Top Chef (something I don't watch). But she was so highly regarded at her previousl restaurant and again..great press...I expected good things. Chilled tomato soup which I assumed to be a gazpacho...was a cream soup not 2 steps up from something I'd expect in the nursing home. BLAND. goat liver mousseline. Ok, nothing great. Bread w/ peanut butter/bananna/bacon. and honeycomb. A fabulous idea, but not well executed. The bread was ho hum, and the spread was just not quite good. You'd think a top chef could tinker with it a bit. Ham frites were disgustingly greasy....I've forgotten...a few other things...not terrible, but nothing special. The cauliflower the table next to us shared was the best thing of the night. Blah.
Purple Pig - OK...first...I didn't realize how similar these restuarants were in menu. I would not have chosen both had I realized. PP was MUCH better and I enjoyed my lunch. The shaved brussel sprouts salad was probably the highlight, as was the lovely, velvety Portuguese red I ordered. My goat cheese and caponata "smear" was nice, as was the grilled calamari. Still...not quite a great restaurant. For example our Manchego was of very lame quality.
Thanks again for your help, and sorry this was long!
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614
Room was energetic and LOUD. The crowd was young and relatively hip. My husband said it looked like someplace that would have been a lot better than it was ;-) The service was quite competent, if you don't mind them having to yell at you. They were rushing you pretty seriously...I would have prefered a more relaxed pacing, but then again, a hungry person would have been pleased.
We actually had a small problem at our table and a manager came out and apologized good naturedly. I always hate when they do that, it's embarrassing, but this guy handled it very professionally and without making me feel weird. And took twice the cost of the offending item off the bill. I did NOT ask for anything, again, I hate that...hate when people are grubby about getting stuff comped when any little thing goes wrong. Anyhow, I'm just reporting that to say the service is good and the house seems well run. Despite the HUGE crowd and seemingly full house, our table was ready without any waiting.
I'm curious what you think. I'll continue to look over this board for a while.
I was just at the GatG and Purple Pig this past weekend and both are very good, but of course certain dishes stand out more than others. The menu at the GatG changes frequently- they didn't have many of our favorite items from the first time we went, so there were all new things to try, but some things I would order again and some which were good, but not stand outs. My 2 favorite things I had were surprisingly both veggies- the chickpea fritter and cauliflower- both exceptional! The atmosphere is fun and definitely lively, but I do appreciate as well that we've never had to wait when we have a reservation, and when I've been the service has been very good and we've never felt rushed at all.
I wouldn't rethink your reservation at all. I went and had the exact opposite experience. Everything was incredibly well balanced and beautifully executed. There were some dishes we liked better than others (we had a party of 6 and ordered about 3-4 things/person so we tried a fair bit of the menu) but overall we all had a great experience and many of us are picky critics. I'm sure it also depends on what night of the week you go. We went during the week and felt completely comfortable having a long, leisurely dinner and the pace of the dishes matched it - spaced apart enough that you felt comfortable lingering, but not so slow that you were wondering where your next course was.
The one thing I will say is that the flavors were definitely on the subtled, nuanced side, but in a good way. I've had hit you over the head with flavor type dishes and these were more subtle and refined.