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Ideas for an "appetizer crawl"

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My husband and I want to celebrate our 40th anniversary with a day in the city (we live in Winnetka) and thought it would be fun just to pop in and out of a few places for appetizers in between visiting various museums, architectural wonders and such.

We'll mostly be walking, but we have our ChicagoPlus card, so anywhere within half a mile or so of any CTA stop is within our range.

The food is more important to us than drinks or atmosphere, and we'd like to keep it reasonably inexpensive overall, but one splurge place might be nice (especially if it involves foie gras!).

And we'd like to finish it up with something chocolate.

Any and all suggestions welcome -- thanks!

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  1. I'd suggest going to places that specialize in "small plates", such as:

    Sable (contemporary American, artisanal cocktails) - River North - www.sablechicago.com
    Quartino (Italian) - River North - www.quartinochicago.com
    Cafe Iberico (tapas) - River North - www.cafeiberico.com
    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) - Loop - www.mercatchicago.com
    XOCO (Mexican) - River North - www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

    There are lots of places that have foie gras on the menu. One place where you could go without committing to an entire meal is to sit at the bar at Cafe des Architectes in the Sofitel.

    And if you really love chocolate, the Peninsula still offers the "Chocolate Bar" in the Lobby (that's the name of the restaurant) on Friday and Saturday nights between 8:00 pm and midnight. I believe it's $38 per adult. I'm a dessert lover and I've really enjoyed this buffet when I've done it. The desserts aren't as elaborate and complex as at many restaurants; some of them are as simple as chocolate dipped strawberries or chocolate chip cookies. But what I've found is that the small portion sizes lets you try a lot of them - they typically have 40 or so different items - and I always find at least a few things that are just heavenly. I've also enjoyed dinner at the Lobby. The cuisine is contemporary American - not amazingly creative (while you're at the Peninsula, go to Avenues for that) but quite decent, and it's a very comfortable room, with spacious seating, high ceilings, and a full-length window on one side of the room.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks, nsxtasy -- the bar at Cafe des Architectes sounds like the sort of thing I have in mind.

      Maybe I should rephrase my request to the group. How about this: What are some places in Chicago where you've had *memorable* appetizers?

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

      1. re: ffranny

        What's funny is that the best foie gras dish I've had is in your home town of Winnetka, at Michael - their foie gras two ways, seared foie gras served over a foie gras and mushroom strudel.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Small plates and appeizers are my favorite kind of eating. I love most of the places nsxtasy lists at the top of his post.

        But with so many places in town that offer wonderful small plate appetizer-type food to enjoy. I don't think my first choice would be to go to a hotel restaurant.

        For starters (pun sort of intended), all the "gastropubs" are designed specifically for that:
        Publican
        Purple Pig
        The Bristol
        Longman & Eagle
        Avec

        I think I missed one. But it's so easy to have fun with little tastings for everyone.

        1. re: chicgail

          Thanks, chicgail! Those look like good options to check out.

          Anyone have more ideas for dessert? After a day of noshing, I think one killer chocolate dessert would be a better option for us than a whole tasting of it (as wonderful as that sounds right now).

          1. re: chicgail

            I second the Purple Pig, which is right on Michigan Ave and is hard to get into at night. Great food. Try the beef marrow and the asparagus with pecorino cheese.

        2. If your going to either the Art Institute...Terzo Piano with Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia or at the Museum of Contempory Art...Puck's Restaurant...Wolfgang Puck. Either place will provide a tasty appetizer. Also, across from the AI is The Gage.
          This is a great idea! Let us know how it works out!

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          Spiaggia
          980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611