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

ciaociao1 May 21, 2012 05:42 AM

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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    elysiumarie May 21, 2012 06:52 AM

    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
      chicgail May 21, 2012 08:14 AM

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

      1. re: chicgail
        ciaociao1 May 21, 2012 10:09 AM

        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
          elysiumarie May 21, 2012 10:32 AM

          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
            chicgail May 21, 2012 12:09 PM

            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
              danimalarkey May 21, 2012 07:25 PM

              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
                ciaociao1 May 22, 2012 05:18 AM

                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.

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          elysiumarie May 21, 2012 06:55 AM

          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.

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            masha May 21, 2012 07:14 AM

            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.

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              elysiumarie May 21, 2012 07:30 AM

              A new Italian joint that's garnering praise:

              1. camusman May 21, 2012 08:11 AM

                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
                  jbontario May 22, 2012 01:23 PM

                  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).

                2. m
                  merkay May 22, 2012 01:09 PM

                  When looking at Italian restaurants for picky eaters, you may want to play it very safe and head to a traditional "red sauce" Italian restaurant, rather than one of the more interesting places. My dad thinks he likes Italian food, but what he really likes is pasta and meat sauce. I took him to Anteprima, and he was very unimpressed. Maybe have your friends look at the online menus before making a choice. They may be surprised by the menu options. Looking at the menus, I can guarantee that my dad would much prefer RPM over Piccolo Sogno.

                  1. c
                    chefcoo May 24, 2012 01:13 PM

                    Also Avec is great if you're going to Randolph St. (near Publican). Also Perrenial Virant is very nice and not as noisy and boisterous as the others. It's a short cab away from downtown in Lincoln Park. Don't miss the Purple Pig, but come at an odd time - same with Avec. Quartino is OK. Also good in the downtown area is A Mado - it's kind of a wood-fire Pizza place, but they also have pastas and main courses. The best thing they do are salads and pizza and a good wine list. Cool vibe as well.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chefcoo
                      jbontario May 24, 2012 02:40 PM

                      A Mado has been closed for about a year.

                      Maybe you're thinking about La Madia over on Grand?

                      1. re: jbontario
                        chicgail May 24, 2012 03:47 PM

                        For sure chefcoo is thinking about La Madia. Mado is not only closed, it's in Bucktown.

                        1. re: chicgail
                          chefcoo May 24, 2012 03:48 PM

                          Yes, I meant La Madia. Sorry for the error

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