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MK or North Pond

h
hoppy2468 Sep 14, 2011 06:59 AM

A Friday/Saturday night staycation in downtown Chicago. Piccolo Sogno the first night and the above two options for the second with Sunday Brunch at Perennial Virant. We've been to MK twice each time about five years apart and about that long since the last time. Both meals were excellent. We've eaten at N.P. multiple times. It was our goto place when we wanted to impress relatives from out of town. It has also been about 4-5 years since our last visit. We felt it had lost a step. Still a wonderful location, love the interior. We went a bunch of times, for us. Probably 10 times over three years. Maybe we just grew too familiar with N.P.?

Anyway, we have a reservation for N.P. We want to give it another shot. However, and this is a roundabout way of asking, would you switch and go to MK?

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North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Perennial Virant
1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

Piccolo Sogno
464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

  1. p
    prcentauri Sep 15, 2011 05:37 AM

    having been to both last week, within a day of each other i would venture to say neither.

    mk was indeed less refined than north pond. i felt the waitstaff at mk were too casual to my preference. the best item tasted at mk was the amuse. the two appetizers i sampled were both good but not great. same can be said for the entrees and even the dessert. overall the meal at mk was okay but not excellent, certainly not memorable.

    at north pond the setting as you know is quite pleasant. the staff is more formal but not stiff or cold. i had about 7 items. every item was better executed and more complex than at mk with the exception of a pasta dish that was served lukewarm and the flavors of that dish did not complement one another well at all.

    why not try a new place? chicago is full of great restaurants and the dining scene is ever-changing.

    ADDENDUM...
    i just noticed that you have selected north pond already. i will offer my suggestion of trying the following items if you like these ingredients and flavors as these were the better items we had on our recent visit:

    "sweet corn, cheese" (a corn soup with crab and a cheese-stuffed pepper relleno)
    "pork, apricot" (pork belly, shrimp a la plancha, poached apricot, cipollini onion)

    the "foie gras, berries" was good but the berry component was overly sweet for my companion's palate. i thought it was decent. the raviolo was the pasta dish of poor temperature i made reference to above. the grassfed beef was also not an excellent dish. the meat was somewhat tough although i guess i should keep in mind that the cut was a striploin rather than a tenderloin. but again, the temperature was too lukewarm to my taste. and the temperature issues couldn't have been our fault because we eat very fast so the dishes didn't need to wait for us. and the kitchen could not have been swamped because we dined near the end of service and few tables were left occupied.

    i sound like i'm killing the place but overall the meal at north pond was good, just a couple duds towards the end.

    maybe dine at north pond for lunch as was suggested earlier. i enjoyed my lunch there last summer more than i did this dinner.

    3 Replies
    1. re: prcentauri
      chicgail Oct 2, 2011 07:50 AM

      I ate at MK last night and I have to agree that it was really unmemorable with a few highlights. It's been years since we've been there. They were very busy all night which is a good sign. I had a great aperitif: Procecco, lemoncello and grapefruit juice.

      They brought us an amuse of a salmon pate with four tiny brucetta slices. The pate tasted exactly like the salmon salad I made last week with some leftover coho salmon that had been on sale at WF. The main difference is that it had been had been processed to finer consistency than I had made the salmon salad. If I can make the same thing at home ...

      I had the corn lobster soup which was a slightly spicy corn bisque with a table spoon or two of tiny pieces of lobster in it. Again: nothing wrong with it. Nothing great. Mr. CG had the best dish of the evening. It was an appetizer of charred octopus, very tender; slightly spicy. Really good.

      Our entrees were the halibut and the veal. Again, both very competently prepared; neither memorable. Pomme Frites with truffle cream were wonderful. Dessert was something called Two Bananas Walk Into a Bar. Malted banana ice cream, banana souffle cake, banana foam, macademia nut crunch and some toasted marshmallow fluff. Not worth the extra calories.

      After this dinner, I would have wholeheartedly recommended North Pond.

      1. re: chicgail
        h
        hoppy2468 Oct 2, 2011 09:19 PM

        Thanks.

        1. re: hoppy2468
          h
          hoppy2468 Oct 18, 2011 07:05 AM

          We went this past Saturday night and I'm so glad that we did. As it was our anniversary and they knew it, we received personalized menus with Happy Anniversary Ted and Alice across the top. Kinda cheesy but kinda nice too.

          A bit of history. We used to go to N.P. 2-3 times per year but stopped about five years ago. Service had slipped and I thought the food had as well. I returned with a hint of worry. Many restaurants survive a long time on past sucess.

          No need to worry. This was really, really good. Just like I remembered the good old days when we enjoyed N. P., recommended it to everyone and took out of town relatives and friends there to impress.

          We were seated in the front room with its great view. Cocktails to start. Martini made with small batch vodka. Prairie something vodka. Very good. My wife had one of their signature cocktails made with cider which she said she could drink all night and she's not a cocktail type person but she just loved it.

          Amuse was a walnut/mushroom consomme served with a small bite of something. The consomme blew me away. Asked them to bring me a bowl. Was turned down.

          First course was Egg, Mushrooms for her and Tuna, Octopus for me. The T/O had huge peices of octopus, the tuna was perfect and the sake marinated watermelon that was on the plate was great. My wifes dish was delicious as well, I got a bite. Kind of an egss benedict take on things.

          Salads. Beat, Pear for me and Lettuce, Crab for her. Both very well executed.

          Mains. Pork, Apple for her and Pheasant, Cabbage for me. These were excellent as well. I'm running out of adjectives here. The mains as well as the other courses were just well balanced with creative use of multiple ingrediants that worked oh so well together.

          Dessert was Cream Cheese, Pecan for her and cheese for me. She inhaled hers and I enjoyed the cheeses but alas, here was the first service misstep of the evening, the server who brought the cheese didn't say which was which or point out the order they should be eaten in. Horrors!

          Wine service was excellent as well. Drinking by the glass the recomendations worked very well and a side note, my wife is a picky wine drinker and for her main, our server brought tastes of three reds for her to try.

          In every way, they worked at pleasing us and they did. The chef, Bruce Sherman, is at the top of his game. Back into our regular rotation they go and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend N.P. to anyone who wants a wonderful night of dining.

    2. nsxtasy Sep 14, 2011 07:56 AM

      They're all good places. Either way you go, it's not a bad decision.

      Just to throw something else into the mix... have you considered switching Perennial Virant to dinner, and North Pond to brunch? That way, you can enjoy the park experience and view during the daytime, and Paul Virant's cooking in the evening.

      -----
      North Pond
      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

      Perennial Virant
      1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

      5 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy
        chicgail Sep 14, 2011 08:03 AM

        So many great places to eat. So little time.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          h
          hoppy2468 Sep 14, 2011 08:07 AM

          1) we went to Naha once. I felt the meal started out great and went downhill as in the apps were good, entree ok and so on. It wasn't bad, just didn't live up to the hype. Reluctant to go back.
          2) Actually had the reservation for P.V. and planned on Publican for the brunch but various reviews of P.V. made me change my mind. The Brunch at P.V. sounds delicious however. Also, we've done Brunch at N.P. and it is nice.

          As you say, I don't think we'll go wrong at any of my choices. I guess that all things being equal, I was hoping for a good review of one place or the other to make up my mind for me. The agony and ecstacy of living in a fine dining city!

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          Naha
          500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

          1. re: hoppy2468
            s
            Shaggy Sep 14, 2011 10:46 AM

            I went to North Pond a few months ago, and MK a few months before that. You already know the differences in the vibe of each place, which to me is the real driver in making the decision since they both have great food. That said, the food at North Pond was in my opinion more refined (if that matters, maybe not) than MK, and the waitstaff was great. They were practically psychic, but I never felt like they were hovering. The portions at MK were larger, and they had better desserts in my opinion. The house cocktails at Northpond were more inventive and tastier.

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            North Pond
            2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

            1. re: Shaggy
              h
              hoppy2468 Sep 14, 2011 06:14 PM

              In the end, it was a simple decision. I asked my wife.

              North Pond it is.

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              North Pond
              2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: hoppy2468
                chicgail Sep 15, 2011 04:42 AM

                Very smart man.

        2. chicgail Sep 14, 2011 07:51 AM

          Based on what you said, "It was our goto place when we wanted to impress relatives from out of town. It has also been about 4-5 years since our last visit. We felt it had lost a step," I think you answered your own question. MK.

          Or, if I may confuse you, just a bit, why don't you consider Naha for something equally excellent and consistent.

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          Naha
          500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

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