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Mar 26, 2012 05:19 PM

Birthday dinner in Chicago!

Hi all,

Looking for some advice. We will be in Chicago in May and my birthday happens to coincide with this trip. My husband and I are looking to go out to a nice dinner. We love high end dining and have done tasting menus before (The Dining Room at the Ritz in San Francisco; Cyrus in Healdsburg) and really enjoyed them, but sometimes they are just a bit too much! We tend towards mid-high end dining, and do enjoy having a few choices other than a tasting menu. On a previous trip, we went to Blackbird for a great lunch, to give some perspective as to what we like. Also for this trip, we will be doing brunch at The Publican, so that base is covered.

Thoughts we have thrown around -

Charlie Trotter's:this would be our last opportunity to dine there.
Tru: Food looks great, option of tasting or 3 course prix fixe.
Naha: haven't looked into it to much but like what I have briefly read.

We definitely want something unique and "Chicago". We live in San Francisco and we love dining out, so give me your best rec's!


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  1. I would also look at Topolobampo - the high end offering from Rick Bayless - The meals I have had there are on my top ten list

    1. I've never had a full meal at Tru but have done the dessert tasting twice. It's extremely high end and formal - similar to TDR at the Ritz (from what I read about it when I did SF trip research last year, didn't go). For some people that's fine but personally the room and procedure for courses was so formal it almost felt stuffy despite the service being friendly.

      1. My wife and I recently had an outstanding dinner at Tru. She is a bit of a picky eater, but likes high quality food so the prix fixe option where there are several choices for course is great. While the atmosphere is formal (jackets are required for men) we found our servers to be very down to Earth which made the experience more fun rather than feeling as though it was a stuffy ambiance. We had such a great time we plan to return again later this year.

        Another option to consider is North Pond. They are located right inside Lincoln Park (literally in the park) and have great views. It is a really nice atmosphere and beautiful setting. Choice of ordering a la carte or tasting menu. The food is a step below the caliber of Tru or Trotters, but still excellent and is elegant, but more casual of an atmosphere.

        Finally MK is also worth taking a look at. They have a large a la carte menu and a tasting menu. Their portions are larger than typical for an upscale venue and are also a nice mix of elegant without being stuffy. Food is excellent, but again not quite up there with Tru.

        1. Thanks, everyone! I am leaning towards Tru, but I can't get Charlie Trotter out of my head.

          weinstein5, we did think about Topolobampo but are going to save that for another trip.

          Gonzo70, thanks for the write up on Tru! Very helpful. I also considered North Pond, and still might.

          Ugh! Too many great choices.

          1. So, North Pond is out. They aren't open for dinner on Tuesdays until May 22, the week after our visit. Maybe next visit!

            So, down to Tru and Trotter's...I think.

            2 Replies
            1. re: meggie t

              Here's how I would choose:
              Trotters - if you want to say you ate there. The service and ambiance is perfection. The food, perhaps not at the level it once was.
              Tru - for really more spectacular food and an overall experience.

              1. re: chicgail

                Chicgail, that is exactly how I worded the dilemma to my husband and then decided on Tru. Thank you for the input!