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Looking for Restaurant with Amazing COCKTAILS!

Hello Chowhounds!

I will be in Chicago over Thanksgiving Weekend, with my Mom and my Son (11), and we'd like to have lunch or dinner at a restaurant with good food but also AMAZING COCKTAILS.

Being that I'm with my son, we cannot go to a bar, so I thought a restaurant will have to do.

He's accustomed to fine restaurants, so that won't be a problem.

Any Ideas?

I have reservations for Sable... Good cocktails, or elsewhere better??

Thanks!!

Yesi

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  1. Sable does have excellent cocktails. In fact the cocktail menu has chapters. If you're looking for great cocktails with good food (and it sound like you are) it's a perfect choice. The food is also interesting, but IMO and that of many others, hardly the best in town. (yes, I know who disagrees with that)

    It feels more like a bar with great food than a restaurant with amazing cocktails. There is a room in the back that is more restaurant-feeling that you may want to request.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      Many of us feel that Sable is among the best in town for food, too! Feel free to read reviews:

      www.chow.com/topics/809196
      www.chow.com/topics/704524

      Then try it for yourself!

      Many of the dishes are available in half portions, and many of those are easily divisible among three people. I ate there last month and it was one of the very best dinners I've had in the past year. Standout dishes included the corned beef reuben strudel, the pistachio duck sausage, the orange-buttermilk panna cotta, and of course the sweet corn creme brulee, which is a savory version of the classic dessert. As for the service, I've had several different servers and they've always been excellent, friendly as well as knowledgeable and helpful. The main dining room has full-length glass along one side and an open kitchen on the other side where you can watch Chef Heather Terhune at work.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thanks to both!

        here's a question:
        Do you think the food will be up to the usual standard, considering Chef Heather Terhune will be competing in TOP CHEF... obviously someone else will be taking her place in the kitchen...??

        1. re: yesilovestotravel

          Absolutely! She was out of town for a family reunion during my fantastic dinner last month, and as you can see from my report, it was as good as ever. (I asked where she was, since I had always seen her on the line in previous visits.)

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks nsxtasy!!

            Im very much looking forward to Sable!

    2. You could also try The Drawing Room. I think they have really amazing creative cocktails. Only caveat is we usually sit at the bar so I haven't eaten there, but it's a restaurant and they'll make the cocktails tableside if it isn't busy.

      -----
      The Drawing Room
      937 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

      2 Replies
      1. re: ms. mika

        Thanks ms. mika... so if we want to have cocktails and snacks... should I make reservations?
        it would be for the restaurant... since ill be with my son (11)... or just walk in?
        could I go into the restaurant part with my son & my mom and just get a few dishes tapas style and drinks?

        1. re: yesilovestotravel

          definitely. the bar is really small and open to the dining area, so i would just make reservations on open table for the restaurant. the bartenders will also create cocktails for you which i think is a lot of fun if you have certain things you want to try etc

      2. Yes, Sable is good for cocktails...and dinner. Bristol is also very good, too.

        1. It's a good idea to make reservations well in advance. If your plans change, you can always change or cancel your reservations. Lately, Sable has been filling up in advance for prime times on weekends. (For example, right now Opentable shows nothing open between 6:00 and 8:45 this coming Saturday.)

          Enjoy your visit!

          1. They don't have food, but The Aviary is the most exciting cocktail joint in the country. If you're a fan of cocktails you owe it to yourself to go there.

            Sable's cocktails are excellent. The food is solid.

            Over Sable, I'd rather go to The Bristol or Longman and Eagle. At both places the food is better and the cocktails are about on par. That said, depending on your location they might be out of the way.

            23 Replies
            1. re: PopMegaphone

              I ate at Longman & Eagle a month or two ago, and it was the worst meal I've had in the last several years. Absolutely dreadful.

              Also beware, neither the Bristol nor Longman & Eagle accepts reservations; at peak hours, the wait to be seated can be as high as 90-120 minutes.

              1. re: PopMegaphone

                Any other suggestions? That I could go with my 11 yr old son ( he's accustomed to good restaurants, so behavior won't be a problem) and have both amazing food and amazing drinks?

                I just came back from ferran adria's new place in Barcelona 41 degrees and the drinks were incredible! One infused with cocoa beans took the mixologist a long time to make... I guess I'm looking to be wowed!

                Sable so far seems the only place as the others mentioned don't seem to be fit to bring kids.

                Thanks again chowhounds!

                Also looking for amazing chow close to anywhere in downtown, loop or mag. Mile during thanksgiving weekend. I like all types of food preferably mid price range 50 or so per person creative food.

                Foie GRAS a plus!!

                Thanks!!

                1. re: yesilovestotravel

                  Another suggestion is Sepia. The food is excellent and I adore their take on classic cocktails. The menu isn't challenging, but the execution is flawless. Speia has a Michelin star if you care about those things.

                  I don't usually order foie gras so I can't be much help there.

                  By the way, I don't mean to rip Sable. I really like the cocktails and the food is solid. Ironically I went there tonight and I enjoyed myself. Just keep your expectations in check. :)

                  1. re: yesilovestotravel

                    I second The Bristol (totally appropriate for a well-behaved 11-year-old) and would add Mercat a la Planxa, Jose Garces' tapas restaurant in the Blackstone Hotel. You can check out Mecat's drink menu here: http://www.mercatchicago.com/dining/d...
                    and the food here: http://www.mercatchicago.com/dining/f...

                    1. re: chicgail

                      Ooh, that's a great idea -- good food, fun atmosphere for a kid, small plates so you can try lots of different things. Nice call, chicgail!

                      1. re: mcgeary

                        There are lots of excellent restaurants around the city which would be appropriate for adults with an 11-year-old child. However, most of them (including Mercat a la Planxa) don't have amazing cocktails along with terrific food, which was the main requirement stated above. I would absolutely go to Sable as my top recommendation among places that have both. Check out their offerings:

                        Cocktail menu (14 pages!) - www.sablechicago.com/files/menu/menu_...
                        Spirits menu - www.sablechicago.com/files/menu/menu_...
                        Wine list - www.sablechicago.com/files/menu/menu_...
                        Dinner menu - www.sablechicago.com/files/menu/menu_...
                        Dessert menu - www.sablechicago.com/files/menu/menu_...

                        You'll be here all weekend, so hopefully you'll have a chance to enjoy several of our great restaurants.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          The request was for amazing cocktails. Quantity wasn't part of the requirement. For instance, Sepia doesn't have a massive list of cocktails, but I've tried most of them and I think they're great.

                          I doubt yesilovestotravel has time to try everything.

                          1. re: PopMegaphone

                            Thanks everyone... I love a good cocktail... although I probably can handle 1 or 2, no more..!... maybe its my age! ... Im getting old! ... I remember my party days, I could drink a lot more... but now its more about realxing, eating yummy little bites, chatting and being wowed by a well done inovative cocktail...

                            Here's what I have so far for the weekend:

                            Thursday Lunch: nothing yet... would love the best deep dish pizza (lots of cheese, amazing crust and a good sauce)... still looking. (also maybe portillo's for chi dogs & italian beef sandwich... not sure if they will be open Thanksgiving.

                            Dinner: Mercat (just came back last month from Barcelona,Madrid & Lisbon... so I can't pass up the oportunity to try this restaurant... may not be amazing cocktails... but ill give their sangria a shot... and I love tapas!... (I know its not traditional thanksgiving dinner... but hey)

                            Friday:

                            Lunch: Topolobambo
                            Dinner: Sable

                            Saturday:
                            Lunch: nothing yet
                            Dinner(have 10pm reservations at the Drawing room... but still looking)

                            Sunday:
                            Lunch nothing yet
                            early dinner: nothing yet

                            Still looking for maybe an "affordable" michelin restaurant (affordable for a michelin) maybe at least a desert tasting... we are kinda on a budget... but want to try something inovative even if its a few dishes a la cart...

                            Thanks everyone... keep the suggestions comming... its been a great help!

                            Yesi

                            1. re: yesilovestotravel

                              Here are a few thoughts for you:

                              For either your Saturday or Sunday lunch, do brunch at Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park (Chef Paul Virant has a Michelin star for his other, similar restaurant, Vie, which is in the suburbs) - excellent food, really great setting, and while the cocktail list is very small, everything on it is as good as something you could get at one of the more cocktail focused places that have been discussed.

                              Take a look at Boka (also in the Lincoln Park area) for one of your dinners. They have a Michelin star, so the food is fabulous- high end, but much more approachable (and less expensive) than something like TRU, Trotters, Alinea, etc. Especially if you go on the earlier side, you should feel comfortable with a well-behaved 11 year old. Their cocktail program is amazing- I'm always surprised that with all the talk on this board about Sable (which in my opinion is EXTREMELY overrated for what it is), that Boka doesn't get more attention for it's craft cocktails.

                              I've found Drawing Room and Sable to both have great cocktails, but the food I've had at both has been pretty disappointing- I don't think I'd try to eat a full meal at either of them, but for drinks and snacks, probably worth it. For what it's worth, while Sable has a much bigger, more impressive looking cocktail menu, Drawing Room's cocktails I think, are much better executed, but I don't really know if I would bring an 11 year old there.

                              Mercat a la Planxa is a great choice- you're going to love it. Go hungry and get the chef's tasting instead of obsessing over the menu. I've been to Mercat as well as Amada, Garces' similar restaurant in Philly many times and have never been disappointed.

                              1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                Sounds great so far!

                                >> Thursday Lunch: nothing yet... would love the best deep dish pizza (lots of cheese, amazing crust and a good sauce)... still looking. (also maybe portillo's for chi dogs & italian beef sandwich... not sure if they will be open Thanksgiving.

                                Most restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving, unless they have a special Thanksgiving dinner planned, so you will want to call ahead before heading anywhere. If you don't end up having deep-dish that day, consider it for one of your other lunches during your stay. Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, and the original Uno and Due all serve excellent deep-dish pizza. If you let us know where you'll be staying (the hotel or a nearby intersection), we can tell you which of their locations is closest.

                                I was a bit surprised to see that Mercat a la Planxa is open for Thanksgiving, but sure enough I see from the Opentable Thanksgiving listings that they are, serving their regular a la carte menu as well as a turkey dinner. Don't worry, there's no law that says you have to have turkey! I think it's an unusual choice but a good one, especially since you loved tapas in Spain.

                                For your Sunday lunch, there are lots of places that do a good weekend brunch. Some of them are places that specialize in breakfast (Jam, Bongo Room, Southport Grocery, M. Henry / M. Henrietta, etc); the downside of these places is that they don't take reservations, and waits can be lengthy on weekends, typically between 9:30 and 12:30. You can avoid waits by going early or late, or else going elsewhere. Many other restaurants serve breakfast/brunch only on weekends, but accept reservations. One of my favorites is Shaw's Crab House. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring breakfast foods (including great thick-cut caramelized bacon), crab cakes, King crab legs, shrimp, beef tenderloin, creme brulee, etc. It can be very filling, and it's not inexpensive for a brunch (around $45), but if you love seafood, it's a great choice. Beyond that, there are lots of other places that do weekend brunch, including some of our finer restaurants like North Pond, Perennial Virant, Sprout, etc. I've posted a bunch of reports in the big brunch (and cocktails!) discussion at www.chow.com/topics/364403

                                As for your other dinners (Saturday and Sunday), there are lots more possibilities. Particularly for Saturday, you'll want to make your reservations soon. There are lots more great restaurants in Chicago, and it's really a matter of what kind(s) of food you enjoy. Given that your itinerary already contains provincial Mexican, tapas, and contemporary American, you might want to consider something else to complement those choices. Maybe contemporary Italian cuisine (Piccolo Sogno is outstanding), maybe Latin fusion (Carnivale is a good choice), maybe one of our steakhouses (David Burke's Primehouse, Chicago Cut Steakhouse)... Another option is for affordable ethnic dining, typically in neighborhoods away from downtown. There's Szechuan cuisine in Chinatown at Double Li or Lao Sze Chuan; Vietnamese at Tank Noodle and other places along Argyle on the North Side; Indian food on Devon in West Rogers Park; etc. There are a few decent ethnic places downtown, too, notably Le Colonial for Vietnamese, and Chicago Curry House for Indian. Some of these options would also work for your Saturday lunch.

                                >> Still looking for maybe an "affordable" michelin restaurant (affordable for a michelin) maybe at least a desert tasting... we are kinda on a budget... but want to try something inovative even if its a few dishes a la cart...

                                There are a couple of dessert experiences I can recommend. TRU offers a dessert tasting, and if you eat in the lounge, you don't have to worry about the formal attire (jackets required for gentlemen) of their main dining room. Also, Friday and Saturday evenings, the Lobby, the restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel, offers the "Chocolate Bar", an all-you-can-eat buffet of around 40 chocolate-based desserts, all in small portion sizes so you can try a lot of them. It's around $35.

                                If you're just looking for pastries on-the-go, there are several excellent bakeries downtown. Fox & Obel is our premier gourmet food store, and their breads and pastries are wonderful. I especially recommend their rich cinnamon swirl rolls, brioche, croissants, etc. Toni Patisserie is a new bakery/cafe in the Loop and it's very good. And Vanille Patisserie has a booth in the French Market on the west side of the Loop. Also, don't miss Garrett Popcorn, which offers caramel popcorn (with or without pecans or cashews), cheese popcorn, or a mix of the two; they have several locations in the Loop and on Michigan Avenue.

                                As for keeping to a budget, it's a good idea to check out prices on the menus of the restaurant websites, so there are no surprises. You already have Topolobampo down for lunch, which is a great way to experience that Michelin star winner at more affordable prices. I love Sable's food because it's so delicious - don't prejudge it, just go and decide for yourself - but the fact that the food prices are unusually low and most dishes are available in half portions is an added bonus. For more ideas on keeping to a budget, this discussion has an overview listing some of our best in various food categories, as well as advice for getting the best value for your dining dollar:

                                Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? - www.chow.com/topics/697829

                                Feel free to ask more questions, and we'll try to help!

                                -----
                                Fox & Obel Food Market
                                401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

                                Lao Sze Chuan
                                2172 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

                                Bongo Room
                                1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                                David Burke's Primehouse
                                616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

                                North Pond
                                2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                                Mercat a la Planxa
                                638 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

                                Garrett Popcorn
                                625 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

                                Southport Grocery & Cafe
                                3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

                                Le Colonial
                                937 Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

                                Perennial Virant
                                1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

                                Shaw's Crab House
                                21 East Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60611

                                Chicago Curry House
                                899 South Plymouth Ct, Chicago, IL 60605

                                Piccolo Sogno
                                464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622

                                M. Henry
                                5707 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660

                                Carnivale
                                702 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60661

                                Sprout
                                1417 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

                                Sable Kitchen & Bar
                                505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

                                French Market
                                131 North Clinton, Chicago, IL 60661

                                Chicago Cut Steakhouse
                                300 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60654

                                Vanille Patisserie
                                2229 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

                                Double Li
                                228 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL 60616

                                M. Henrietta
                                1133 West Granville, Chicago, IL 60660

                                Jam Restaurant
                                3059 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago, IL

                                Toni Patisserie & Cafe
                                65 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

                                1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                  You are getting some great advice. However you seem to be stressing about not having a car and staying in the "city center". Chicago is a compact city and none of the restaurants suggested already are more than 5-8 miles at the most away from the main tourist area. I would say the majority of them are within 2-3 miles. You don't need a car to get around in the city and I hope you aren't planning on renting one. Public transporation is easy to use and most of the restaurants are within a 15-20 minute cab ride if you don't feel like taking the bus/el. Chicago is not LA in terms of needing a car.

                      2. re: nsxtasy

                        The Bristol takes reservations via OpenTable.

                        1. re: mcgeary

                          Thanks! They must have changed their policy recently...

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            Thanks to everyone for helping me out!

                            I haven't forgot about responding.. Im at work... and I have been sneeking into chowhound to read & I have been doing some research based on your suggestions.

                            Jam & Bongo sound perfect for breakfast!
                            Think I will keep the reservation for Sable... we'll see how it goes...

                            still deciding on other "michelin" restaurant.. Problem is we'll be there only for 4 days/3 nights on a very busy wkend, dont' want to venture out too much from the city center.... & many good places are kinda far specially without a car.

                            I'll be going with my mom and she's kinda picky (no seafood) although fish is ok, no ethnic food :( (I think im adopted LOL) because I love everything she does not!

                            I'll also be paying for her & my son (11 yr old cant' work yet LOL) so ill be forking out for 3 people (1 who is really not a foodie and the 11 yr old is a foodie, but still JUST 11) so I'd hate to spend 150 for someone that could care less if they are eating fine dining or a burger... you know....

                            sooo hard!

                            So far I have blackbird, Crafton on Wells, Naha, Nomi... (need close by center of town)...

                            What you think??

                            Thanks a million!! :)

                            -----
                            Naha
                            500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

                            1. re: yesilovestotravel

                              >> Jam & Bongo sound perfect for breakfast!

                              Here's some additional information about those.

                              I have been told Jam is moving from their current address on Damen to Logan Square. Presumably that move will be complete shortly, well before your visit.

                              Bongo Room has two locations: at Wabash and Roosevelt in the South Loop, about a mile south of the Loop, and another on Milwaukee in Wicker Park, about two miles northwest of the Loop. The menus etc are the same. They specialize in sweet pancake dishes, such as their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. A standard portion size consists of three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can order one-third or two-thirds portion sizes at reduced prices, for those who want to try more than one dish or those with smaller appetites.

                              >> So far I have blackbird, Crafton on Wells, Naha, Nomi... (need close by center of town)...

                              The one concern I have about these choices is, as I mentioned above, your itinerary is already fairly heavily biased towards contemporary American places, with Sable and the Drawing Room already on the menu. Now, it's up to you to decide where to go and what kind of food you'd like; if you want to add a third contemporary American place, by all means do so! But if you'd like a bit more variety, there are other kinds of restaurants, as I mentioned above.

                              As for these choices, Blackbird and Naha are both very good. However, both are rather pricey (again, check their menus). Blackbird has a great weekday lunch deal, but you already have your weekday lunch at Topolobampo, and I would keep that - it's a great choice and your only provincial Mexican stop. As for dinner, well, just check their menus, since you've expressed a concern about cost. Of the two, I would give a nod to Blackbird for delicious food, but the seating is a bit cramped (especially the banquettes along one wall, where you'll be sharing conversations with adjacent tables) and it's rather noisy. I would not recommend Crofton on Wells, as I had a dreadful service experience there. NoMI has re-concepted recently (since winning a Michelin star), and I haven't been there since then. I know the location in the Park Hyatt and the view looking out at the park and Michigan Avenue are undoubtedly still lovely.

                              As always in Chicago, there are always many, many good choices!

                              -----
                              Blackbird Restaurant
                              619 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60606

                              Bongo Room
                              1470 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

                              The Drawing Room
                              937 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

                              Nomi Restaurant
                              800 N Michigan Ave Unit 1, Chicago, IL 60611

                              Topolobampo
                              445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

                              Naha
                              500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                Thanks soooo much nsxtasy!!

                                In a perfect world, I would love love to add a french meal to my weekend... Its just that they are all expensive (specially that I'll be the one paying for myself, my son & my mom!) ... I should ditch them, and go by my self! LOL

                                any french places that I can do a tasting menu & they can do a la cart??.. although most restaurants require all diners to have the "tasting" menu :(

                                I'll re-read the prior suggestions, I was originally concentrating on "Michelin" star french restaurants, but couldn't find anything in my price range...

                                This is hard work! LOL

                                1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                  >> In a perfect world, I would love love to add a french meal to my weekend... Its just that they are all expensive (specially that I'll be the one paying for myself, my son & my mom!) ... I should ditch them, and go by my self! LOL

                                  >> any french places that I can do a tasting menu & they can do a la cart??.. although most restaurants require all diners to have the "tasting" menu :(

                                  >> I'll re-read the prior suggestions, I was originally concentrating on "Michelin" star french restaurants, but couldn't find anything in my price range...

                                  There are two basic kinds of French restaurants: expensive, and bistros. The expensive places are the ones that typically have creative food, lengthy tasting menus, and formal attire. French bistros are usually quite affordable, offer only a la carte menus, and the cuisine is typically conventional bistro fare. For example, La Sardine in the West Loop and its sister Le Bouchon in Bucktown both have a special on Tuesdays, with any three courses for $27.50, and even on other days of the week it's still not all that expensive, with the prices of lunch entrees in the mid teens and dinner entrees in the low twenties. La Sardine in the West Loop and Kiki's in River North are excellent as well as convenient to those staying downtown.

                                  If you're interested in trying one of our very best (Michelin star winning) high-priced French restaurants at a bargain, Everest offers a pre-theater menu for 5:00/5:30 seatings. It's a set three-course prix fixe menu, no choices, but it's only $50 or so. I suspect your companions could get that prix fixe menu and you could get the lengthy, more expensive tasting menu, but you should really check with the restaurant to verify that. Also noteworthy about Everest is its extensive wine list (1700 choices, the best French-Alsatian selection in the country) and its view from the 40th Floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building, looking out over the city.

                                  >> This is hard work! LOL

                                  Chicago has many, many excellent choices, and yes, it takes a while to sift through them. I don't know about others who live here, but I jot down notes and always have a list of several dozen places I've been wanting to try. Making a decision can be just as tough for us locals, except when we've been to a place and we know we want to go back. Welcome to our world!

                                  -----
                                  Kiki's Bistro
                                  900 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610

                                  La Sardine
                                  111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

                                  Le Bouchon
                                  1958 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                                  Everest
                                  440 S La Salle St Ste 4000, Chicago, IL 60605

                        2. re: nsxtasy

                          I'm not familiar with Longman and Eagle so I can't offer judgement but I'm curious. If a restaurant doesn't take reservations and waits are 90 to 120 minutes, what was it about their food/dervice that you found so lacking that so many other people appreciate. If your experience was a fluke, maybe you should voice that caviat as you seem to carry a lot of weight on this board. If your experience was not a fluke, there are a lot of foolish people spending a lot of money on bad food at this place.

                          1. re: Mobiusring

                            I have eaten L&E several times and found the food to be wonderful. The chef is incredibly creative. IMO, it well-deserves its MIchelin star.

                            I have had short waits (maybe 20 minutes) that I passed over an artisan beer and a pleasant chat with the bartender. It's one of my favorite places. Perhaps if you go at 8 pm on a Saturday night, the wait would be longer.

                            I wrote about my brunch experience here: http://foodbeest.com/?p=2516

                            1. re: Mobiusring

                              >> I'm not familiar with Longman and Eagle so I can't offer judgement but I'm curious. If a restaurant doesn't take reservations and waits are 90 to 120 minutes, what was it about their food/dervice that you found so lacking that so many other people appreciate.

                              I found the food WAY oversalted and WAY overspiced, to the point of being virtually inedible. To put that into context, I don't consider myself particularly sensitive to salt or to spice, and this is the only restaurant I have ever found to be extremely oversalted and overspiced. It was absolutely dreadful. You can read my complete, detailed report at www.chow.com/topics/804480

                              As for the waits, they can vary by the hour, by the day of the week, and by the weather (on nice days/nights they have a pleasant outdoor seating area that increases their capacity). I went on a pleasant weekday and waits were not a problem, either when I arrived or when I left. The Tribune describes their peak waits as "2-plus hours by 6-7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is usually full by 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 p.m. on weekdays, and on most weekend nights, the wait list becomes so long that the staff will take your cell phone and ask you to return 3 or more hours later." Ref: http://chicago.metromix.com/restauran...

                              Why do some other people like it? I don't know; for me, it was THAT BAD. Of course, we don't all have the same tastes, and some places can have a bad night. And opinion is rarely a consensus on just about any place, even Alinea, and others are welcome to their opinions. But I've discussed it with friends who are prominent in the foodie community here, and discovered that I'm not alone in my extreme distaste for the food there. So based on that feedback, I do not consider my experience to be a "fluke".

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                I've been to L&E several times and I've never felt the food was overspiced. I'm not sure who you're referring too, but from what I've seen from reviews, awards and respected Chicago message board communities L&E has near universal acclaim.

                                Personally, I've never experienced a 90 min wait to get in L&E.

                                1. re: PopMegaphone

                                  Folks, we removed a long string here going back and forth on whose opinions are valuable, who agrees on what, etc. We'd ask that people keep the focus on their actual experiences with a given restaurant rather than debating the merits of individual posters and their opinions. Rate chow -- not chowhounds.

                          2. re: PopMegaphone

                            I wouldn't take an 11-year-old to the Aviary, the Bristol or L&E. The non-bar area of Sable would be fine, though.