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New year's in Chicago

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Hi all,

I will be in Chicago from Dec 29 to Jan 1. On New Year's Eve I got reservations at Alinea for their 12 course meal. I am now looking at filling in the rest of my visit. I am looking at one more high-end meal and I am struggling between L2O, Schwa (if I can even get a reservation), Avenues, or maybe Tru or Everest. I have read a lot of mixed reviews about L2O and they have one of the most expensive menus it seems in Chicago. Is that too much of a risk?

Also I am a staying at the Fairmont which looks fairly close to Tru and Avenues. Does anyone have an idea how much a cab to L2O or Schwa costs?

Thanks!

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. Taxi to L20 would run $10-12 bucks.

    1. Can't help with the cost of a cab but if you can afford Alinea, I can't imagine the cost of a cab being an issue for you.
      Count me as one of those who wouldn't return to L2O. Avenues would be a great choice but would be a lot like Alinea. I'd choose Everest with Tru being second choice.
      If you want a high-end experience, you'll get it foodwise at Schwa but service/atmosphere will not come close to the other places.

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      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      L2O
      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

      5 Replies
      1. re: hoppy2468

        Well I guess the cost of a cab is not as big a concern as trying to get one after midnight on NYE. At least where I'm from it is impossible...

        I was really considering Schwa but have changed my mind a bit when I saw their menu and read that they carry a lot of offal on their menu. As much as I try I just can't stomach it.

        What did you not like about L2O?

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        L2O
        2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

        1. re: nextguy

          I wish I could have put my finger on it. It's not like it was bad food or service or something I could point to. I wouldn't say that I didn't like it, I just feel that for the cost there are other places I would rather go to.

          1. re: hoppy2468

            I felt exactly the same way about L2O as hoppy. Everything I had was reasonably good, but with one exception - a little complimentary canele at the end of the meal - nothing really "wowed" me. That's acceptable when I'm paying around $100/person at one of our "casual fine dining" restaurants, not satisfactory when I'm paying twice as much at a place that is trying to be special. Like hoppy, I'd choose Everest or TRU instead. I'd also consider Charlie Trotter's or Spiaggia.

            BTW, there's also a post at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/745323 about Laurent Gras taking a leave from L2O.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Yes I saw that thread (and replied in it too). That bit of info tipped me away from L2O and I ended up booking at Avenues after considering the menus at all the restaurants. Has anyone sat at the chef's bar? I enjoy seeing chef's work but I am curious if is comfortable or awkward.

              So I am arriving in Chicago on the 29th, having lunch either at Due's or Malnati's, dinner at Avenues. On the 30th I am thinking of Frontera for lunch and Purple Pig for dinner. The 31st I have no plans for lunch but have Alinea for dinner. I was thinking of maybe Prime steakhouse or Blackbird but might just grab a sandwhich somewhere. On the 1st I am leaving at 3PM so I am still looking for somewhere for brunch but I am worried that most restaurants will be closed. Am I missing anything? We won't have a car so I won't be able to check out anything too far from downtown or the loop.

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

              L2O
              2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: nextguy

                >> Has anyone sat at the chef's bar? I enjoy seeing chef's work but I am curious if is comfortable or awkward.

                I haven't sat there but I'm sure it's comfortable. There are 5-6 seats (barstools IIRC) at a small marble counter. It's to one side of the dining room as you enter, nicely spaced away from the tables. The view of the kitchen is rather limited, though.

                Last time I was poking around the Peninsula's website, I saw a photo of the chef's bar, but I'm not sure whether it's still there.

                >> So I am arriving in Chicago on the 29th, having lunch either at Due's or Malnati's, dinner at Avenues. On the 30th I am thinking of Frontera for lunch and Purple Pig for dinner.

                I would recommend doing Topolobampo for lunch rather than Frontera Grill. The prices are very similar (unlike lunch, when Topo is much more expensive) and it's easy to make reservations for Topo lunch (I recommend doing so now - they're on Opentable.com ). Also I know both restaurants close for a week or two in January so Bayless can take the staff to Mexico, but I think that is after New Year's.

                >> On the 1st I am leaving at 3PM so I am still looking for somewhere for brunch but I am worried that most restaurants will be closed.

                My guess is that most restaurants that serve brunch will be open that day, despite the holiday. For ANY Sunday, I recommend having brunch at a restaurant that accepts reservations to avoid long waits to be seated, and doing this - using Opentable.com or calling for a reservation - will tell you if the place you want is open or closed that day.

                >> Am I missing anything?

                Hitting Alinea and Topolobampo/Frontera Grill covers some of our best places. I'd recommend North Pond too, for its exquisite setting as well as the food. This would be a good choice for your Sunday brunch!

                Enjoy your visit, and feel free to ask more questions!