A menu question--Burke's Primehouse
I've seen underwhelming reviews of Primehaus on Chicago area Chowhound and I'm disappointed. Alas, at the request of my clients they still want to go here for dinner. For those of you who have had a pleasant or even decent experience, did anything (apps, sides) stand out?
Also, I would love other reccomendations for downtown restaurants that have great, non prentenious food.
I will be in Chicago for 3 days in mid June.
I've been to Burke's at least 5 times. So obviously I think it is better than o.k. If I want steak that is the place I go in Chicago. I have always been very happy with the food quality; steaks, sides, the whole deal. The waitstaff has always been good, too. I also like their corkage policy (always call first though). What I dislike is the "have a seat in the bar area and we'll call you" routine. I don't mind having a drink but I have waited almost an hour after my confirmed reservation. They waived corkage b/c of the wait and comped me the tasting menu later (after I complained to mgt) so they made up for it. Still, I generally don't go on weekends.
I'd consider both Avec and the Publican -- one is more small plates/Mediterranean, is tiny, does not accept reservations (Avec) while the other is more Franco/Belgian brasserie, accepts reservations, has ample seating, though most of it consists of communal tables. The menus online are representitive, at least, if not necessarily exactly what you'll find if you walk in tonight (or in a few weeks when you're here). Both are focused on fresh, seasonal ingredients, though plates can run a little on the heavier fare side of things.
If you won't mind a short cab ride, consider heading out into one of the surrounding neighborhoods of Chicago. I love Nightwood, located in Pilsen ~3 miles south of downtown. Exceptionally fresh, well-prepared, local and inventive without being pretentious or gimicky, I think it's a great find in an otherwise unassuming stretch of Halsted (not to knock Skylark, of course).
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661
I've enjoyed the steaks and also the seafood dishes. And I've especially enjoyed the appetizers, notably the dumplings, foie gras, the crab cake, and the lobster bisque.
Despite the negative reports by a few folks, there are far more positive ones. Go with an open mind and you may be pleasantly surprised!
As for other places, I think Sable is great for contemporary American small plates, and our contemporary Italian places (Piccolo Sogno, the Florentine, Cibo Matto) are all doing wonderful things. Also Mercat a la Planxa is great for tapas. Our creative Mexican places are outstanding and unique; downtown, I especially recommend Topolobampo for lunch, otherwise Mexique for dinner.
I recommend making reservations in advance for any of these places. They're all on Opentable.com or you can call.