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Nov 4, 2011 07:14 AM

Dinner with In-Laws?

Looking for suggestions for dinners with my in-laws. We are taking them out to celebrate their birthdays this year and I'm stumped. Providing as much info as I can to help you help me...please help me...

Location: We live in Lakeview near Southport, but are more than happy to venture farther from home, although I'd prefer to stay out of River North as we'll likely have 2 cars - in-laws are coming in from the West and have good access to either 290 or can take 90

Food: Two foodies, One "I'll try anything", One "I'll try nothing" and a 7 year old - I am more worried about the "I eat nothing" as the 7 year old has been to Purple Pig, Girl and the Goat, Browntrout and a wide variety of other places and is very well behaved and can work with whatever the menu offers. The challenge is finding entrees, preferably fish that are simply prepared and do not have ingredients listed that are not recognizable (by the picky individual) - explanations from wait staff are shrugged off as "If I haven't had it, I won't like it" (yes this can be frustrating).

No Asian cuisine
No chains or restaurants with siblings in the suburbs i.e. "Mia" Restaurants
Atmosphere that feels like a restaurant not a club
Upscale enough to show respect and denote that we are treating this as a special occasion not a casual night out.
No refinancing my home - average entree prices $28-$35+ is pushing it - unless you have a real winner as I'd prefer this be a nice night than say "at least it wasn't too expensive".
Must take reservations as my 7 year old is great at a table, but not overly patient waiting for one (likely going on a weekend)

Currently being considered, some as backups - but I'd really like some other ideas:
Ceres' Table (I've never been there)
Province (I've never been there)
Socca (backup)
Deleece (backup, but honestly as it is right out our door it shows a lack of effort on our part - despite quality and match)
LM (30/70 on whether this would pass for our picky eater)

Any ideas welcome and generally thank to all members as your posts have been very helpful in the past.

4111 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Girl and the Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. LM has a new chef from what I heard so that may be good or bad. What about Bistro Campagne literally across the street? Every meal I had there has been fantastic and it has enough literal food to make a picky eater happy.

    If you are willing to go to Andersonville - I'd suggest Anteprima or Vincent

    Bistro Campagne
    4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

    5316 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

    1 Reply
    1. re: lbs

      Last Sunday evening we ate at LM for the recently started Sunday Supper Club with 3 courses for $30. The regular menu is not available on Sunday evening, and none of the dishes were exactly as on the regular menu. The chef appears to be doing some experimenting with this menu. The food was quite good and is a real bargain, particularly if you go with one of the wines specially priced at $20 per bottle. This menu is not for picky eaters or gluttons. First course options are a soup or a salad. Last Sunday the soup was a velvety cream of potato with a small onion and bits of bacon under the crouton in the center of the bowl. Normally one of us might have tried the salad and one the soup, but the cold rainy evening called for soup. Their are two main dishes available, one meat and one fish. We both had the red trout on a bed of lentils and mushrooms with some creaming onions. The dessert was lemon curd tart with a different garnish than the lemon curd on the regular menu. I understand that the dessert the previous Sunday was creme brulee.

      Some of the combinations in dishes on the regular menu show similar approaches, so I would second OP's reservations relative to the picky eater. We will be going back for the regular menu in the not too distant future.

    2. >> Deleece (backup, but honestly as it is right out our door it shows a lack of effort on our part - despite quality and match)

      That's funny, because it really is otherwise such a good match. As I read your description, I kept thinking about Deleece.

      Gioco is relatively far, and there are probably equally good choices that aren't as far. I haven't been to the others you've mentioned.

      Have you thought about Sola (in North Center) or Magnolia Cafe (in Uptown)? I think either of those would work for you.

      I like the suggestions from lbs also. Except I'm not so sure about Vincent, since their chef just left, and the Dutch emphasis might be too extreme for the picky eater. Bistro Campagne might *seem* too French for the picky eater, too, even though they have all-American dishes like strip steak.

      Personally, I hate the idea of having to accommodate one picky eater in a party. Go wherever you want to go; the picky eater is probably going to complain no matter where you decide.

      Sola Restaurant
      3868 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60613

      Magnolia Cafe
      1224 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

      1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

      1 Reply
      1. re: nsxtasy

        >>That's funny, because it really is otherwise such a good match. As I read your description, I kept thinking about Deleece.

        I know and we might still go there, its about perception as they will just have driven in from the burbs. I'm actually going to Deleece tonight with friends and family. Time to see the new space.


      2. Agree with nsxtasy- cross Giocco off of your list- not worth traveling to the South Loop for. I also like the suggestion of Sola- it really does fit all of your requirements (although on the high end of your price range).

        I've had good experiences at Province and I'd definitely recommend it for a fun dinner out, but I don't think the atmosphere quite matches what you're looking for. It's a casual, fun, quirky kind of place more than an upscale place to impress the in-laws.

        Also take a look at Perennial Virant- I think with the possible exception of your picky eater, it would be perfect. Great upscale-casual environment and seasonal, farm-to-table type food in Lincoln Park.

        One more that is on the pricier side, but would be a great choice is MK. Feels like a special occasion place but not crazy expensive. Food perfectly executed.

        Perennial Virant
        1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

        868 N. Franklin, Chicago, IL 60610

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bdav1818

          Sola and Province are on the deal site. If there's a reservation available through OpenTable for the date/time you want you pay $10 to reserve and they take 30% off your total, including alcohol.

          And it happens transparently, so your in-laws won't know you're getting a discount.

          1. re: ferret

            And MK is also part of the Savored 30% off (includes not just food, but cocktails/drinks as well). Many restaurants do blackout Saturday night though from the 30% off deal. I have dined in MK and Sola and found both to be outstanding (food, service and ambiance).

            1. re: Gonzo70

              Thanks for all the great suggestions and the reminder about Savored! I'll try to to post the results once we decide and have dined.

              1. re: obiwandog

                BTW, Magnolia Cafe is also part of the Savored deal. I don't know why, but it's one of those restaurants that are really good but most Chicagoans have never heard of. (Deleece is similar in that respect.)

                You've got some great options. As always in Chicago, the tough part isn't finding good places, it's narrowing them down and deciding on one place to go.