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May 21, 2012 05:42 AM

1st time in Chicago-Picky Eaters-Dinner Suggestions Please

We are visiting Chicago in late June for the weekend. 2 of the 4 of us are fairly picky eaters and only really like steakhouse or Italian for dinner. One of the nights we are going to RPM Italian (the new Rancic resto- any thoughts)

Other night we are debating about Captial Grille, Custom House Tavern or Quartino's. Your help would be greatly appreciated. I heard Captial Grille is expensive and may not be worth it? I would do Quartino's but Italian two nights in a row?

Also for Sunday lunch my husband and I (the adventurous ones) will separate from the other couple.

We are thinking either Purple Pig or The Gage. Also would love input.

Also we are staying at the Hyatt Regency.

Thanks so much in advance.

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  1. 1) Ditch the other couple :)
    2) Purple Pig is wonderful. I have not been to the Gage, but by other's accounts it is nowhere near as interesting as Purple Pig. Arrive early at PP, or go late.
    3) If you're willing to take a short cab ride to the West Loop, you might enjoy The Publican; scrumptious plates for sharing, a great Sunday brunch, and unlike PP, they take reservations.
    4) Places like publican and purple pig do, indeed, have steak and potatoes, and believe me, the steaks and potatoes will be good. I;ve taken my small-town wisconsin meat and potatoes relatives to PP, Longman & Eagle, and Publican, and trust me, everyone went home happy. Who doesn't love to die for sausages, roasted pork shoulder and mashed potatoes, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: elysiumarie

      I wouldn't do both Purple Pig and The Publican. Two gastropubs may be too much.

      1. re: chicgail

        Thanks for all the replies. I would LOVE to ditch the other couple as they are so inhibited. Lucky they are fun otherwise. Coming from Toronto, an awesome foodie city, I am ok to skip any high end steak houses as we have excellent ones here. However something like the Purple Pig is a unique experience. Glad to hear we can bring them along for our Sunday lunch.

        We are all early risers and have breakfast included at the hotel so we will be looking for more lunch than brunch on Sunday (Publican looks more breakfast type foods...)

        So no mention of Quartino's? Mistake?

        Hoping RPM is ok. It's the one place the other couple would really like to go.

        1. re: ciaociao1

          Never been to RPM, and I only went to Quartino's once. I don't really remember the meal, sorry!

          To round out your weekend, here are some nearby spots for drinks:
          Sable Bar and Kitchen: they have an excellent and *extensive* cocktail menu. NoMI at the Park Hyatt has a lovely terrace overlooking the city, and tasty summer drinks. Gilt Bar has great drinks.

          1. re: ciaociao1

            Quartino's is fine. It's not great. It's fine. Never been to RPM, but if you like the Celebrity Apprentice thing, it might be interesting. Much better Italian at Spiaggia Cafe or Coco Pazzo Cafe.

            1. re: ciaociao1

              Just to echo chicgail's comments, I think Quartinos is also fine. Good, even. You'll eat well, the room is nice and service is quick and friendly. I've had decent success ordering carbonara off menu, so that's a plus. But it's not necessarily exceptional or even memorable. I go there when I need something reliable -- and, for your purposes, that may be just fine! As always, what matters most is that you enjoy the meal there. I've been to enough places where the food wasn't great, but I had a great time eating there -- Quartinos is often one of these places.

              And yeah, the thing about about RPM is that 1/3 the allure is a reality-show couple (the R), 1/3 is a non-Chicago (I think?) celebrity chef (the P) and the last 1/3 the two sons of a local restaurateur (the M). Which isn't to suggest, by any means, that the food is bad -- but I think a lot of people have been going because Bulls or Blackhawks players go there.

              I even think Picolo Sogno (a very short cab ride from where you're staying) would be better. Especially if you can request a seat in their patio. Not as much of a "scene" as RPM and probably better food. Cafe Spiaggia is also excellent.

              If you want to go a little more casual for Sunday lunch but still want to enjoy the (deserved) accolades of the Publican, consider Publican Quality Meats. They opened a quick-service restaurant across the street -- the menu is sandwiches, soups and salads for the most part but they are uniformly great (at least, I haven't had a dud, yet). Beer and wine are available and it is table service -- seating is limited, especially if there outdoor seating isn't available (ie. due to weather). The food is solid, though, if you don't mind a menu limited as described above (I'd take a look at their website for sure).

              1. re: danimalarkey

                Thanks for these great suggestions. OK going to try to pursuade the other couple (who is star struck by the R's) to skip RPM, maybe for Cafe Spiaggia as its been mentioned a number of times.

                I like the Publican Quality Meats option. If nothing else we may do a lunch spot on Sunday and do the Publican to go as we leave on Sunday and will be missing dinner. Unless a good to go option at Midway?

                Thanks again for all the input. Really appreciate it.

        2. If you would also like to check out other neighborhoods, there are some great sunday brunch/lunch options in Bucktown/Wicker Park. Takashi has a fantastic noodle lunch on Sundays, and The Bristol does a mean brunch. You can stroll around the neighborhood after; boutiques, coffee shops, vintage, etc.

          1. There is plenty of meat and potatoes on the menu at The Gage, so go there with your friends. Substitute it for RPM, which I hear is only fair. That way you can keep Quartino as your other resto. to go to with them.

            1. A new Italian joint that's garnering praise:

              1. I really like Capital Grille, even if it is a chain. It is expensive, but so are other Chicago steakhouses.
                Quartino's is pretty good. Might also consider Coco Pazzo Cafe.

                1 Reply
                1. re: camusman

                  For steaks I would also recomend Chicago Cut. I am a huge Cap Grill guy, I love and really mean love the dry-aged kona-rubbed strip with some lobster mac, but yu can get that in any city now.

                  Chicago Cut is a local place and is really my favorite with Joe's coming in second (also local).