Everest vs. Charlie Trotters for a bday dinner?
I would like to take my parents out for my dad's 74th bday-Alinea is out because it is all booked up, so looks like we are choosing between Charlie Trotters and Everest. I don't live in Chicago anymore, and feel out of touch with the local restaurant scene, so any and all opinions are most welcome. We are looking for highend, "special" feeling meal, in terms of both food and service. My parents are pretty sophisticated, well traveled, somewhat conservative eaters, if that helps.
816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
Pretty much the same question was asked and discussed in this topic a couple of days ago:
Alinea and then ?? Trotter or L20 or ? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775991
Here's what I posted there (keeping in mind that the OP there stated a preference for French cuisine):
"Given the preference for French cuisine, my first choice for a second dinner is Everest. The cuisine is French-Alsatian and simply wonderful, the wine list is phenomenal, and the view from the top of the Midwest Stock Exchange building is breathtaking. Personally, I had the best service experience EVER at Everest, which is all the more remarkable considering that I've been to many of the finest restaurants around the country. I realize that chicgail had a bad service experience there recently, but she has also remarked on their food in the same dinner as great. If I had to choose my personal vote for second best restaurant in Chicagoland, it would come down to Everest or Trotter's."
I don't think you can go wrong, either way; you'll probably have a great meal and a special experience at either one.
Chicgail is certainly not the only person who has had marginal or downright poor service at Everest. I won't go into this again but that experience is not unique.
Still, I think I might suggest Everest over Trotter's. I think the wine lists are equal but Trotter's, IIRC, may be a bit more expensive. If one has a even a passing interest in wines of Alsace then Everest-no question. The view, if one is in to that, is certainly better at Everest. I was at Trotter's in July and it just seemed to be resting on its laurels. While I have had service issues at Everest, I have to believe that is not the norm. And the service at Trotter's in July was certainly not what it once was. Nothing bad but the staff seemed to just going through the motions.
Food wise, I don't think you can go wrong with either.
I had the vegetable menu (it's not vegetarian, but they will make it so on request) this past Friday and it was one of my best meals ever. I did not see in either the food or the service any evidence of a restaurant "resting on its laurels." Every morsel was outstanding and prepared with great thought and care. They are not doing molecular gastronomy nor serving pork with everything, but I can't recall ever having better vegetable dishses than I had there. (My wife had the regular menu and loved it.) Just another opinion!
>> their vegetarian menu looks amazing.
There was an article about Trotter's in the New York Times last week ( www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/dining/30t... ) and it says this about the vegetarian cuisine there:
"Mr. Trotter is particularly virtuosic with vegetables. A plate arrives bearing what looks like a cross-section of slab bacon, but it’s really a terrine of three separate beet purées — red, golden and chioggia — that have been set in a mold and then sauced with another purée, of horseradish and roasted parsnips: a root-crop tour of the five taste sensations. A porridge of amaranth is enlivened with green cardamom, toasted pistachios and a slice of raw persimmon: a dish at once vaguely South Asian and satisfyingly Moosewood-y. Charlie Trotter’s offers a more traditional Grand Menu, but it’s the Vegetable Menu — an ever-changing, never-boring meatless dégustation — that is his crowning culinary achievement.
'Alice Waters may have discovered vegetables, but Trotter was the first man I know who cooked them beautifully,' said Alan Richman, the longtime restaurant critic for GQ."
We did have terrible service at Everest, but our recent experience at Trotters reflected great service ... and perfectly acceptable, but in no way exceptional food. Given that I go out for great food (and expect great service), the opposite is not the case. I would rather put up with service issues and have a fabulous dinner than be served "meh" food with great style and panache.
I vote for Everest, also.
Go to Everest. The food is simply better.
I agree that Everest's service is not on the same level as Trotter's (at least in my experience). But the food more than make up for it.