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Wine Bars in Chicago.. and CASUAL Tasting menu, if that's possible.

Hola fellow foodies. I'm headed to Chicago first of Sept and planning out our culinary adventure...

I'm taking a break from trying to find an awesome tasting menu.. I have a rez at TRU so far, but I REALLY want to try Alinea, but probably just need to give up with them moving to the annoying ticket system like Next.

But I also want to find a casual wine bar, low noise preferrably. We like to just sit back and have a few flights and nibble on some fruit and cheese, but still be able to hear each other talk. OH, and we don't want to HAVE to dress up in dress/slacks... we're already doing that for TRU and wherever else I pick for the dinners. I'm staying inside the Loop so close would be nice, but we don't mind taking a cab or the train.

As a separate request... if you'd like to give opinions on NorthPond, Goosefoot, L20, Blackbird, North Wood, Girl and a Goat, or Acadia.. they are on the radar. And also open to suggestions for any casual tasting menus that aren't so fancy.. if there is even such a thing. We love adventurous, good food.. but don't like to dress up all the time.

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  1. Not a tasting menu, but Sable might be a good choice to check off the wine bar and give you food options, they have lots of wines and a variety of small plates. Bin 36 offers a more traditional wine and cheese menu (lots of cheeses).

    4 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Thanks, I've seen the name on boards here and will check it out. I should have clarified my post... it was really 2 separate requests for info! =) One for a wine bar, and another request for causal tasting menus. But thanks for the response!

      1. re: ferret

        Question about Bin 36... which has all the CHEESE? =) The restaurant on Dearborn, or the Cafe on Milwaulkee?

          1. re: camusman

            The restaurant on Dearborn also has a list of 50 cheeses.

      2. Try Vera.
        Easy L ride on either the Pink or Green line to the brand new (and beautiful) Morgan Street stop.

        http://www.verachicago.com/

        1. If you find yourself on Magnificent Mile, Purple Pig is a fantastic wine bar with great antipasti, meats, cheeses. It gets a little loud inside, less so on the patio. We usually try to go on off hours to avoid a wait. Today we had a fantastic rabbit meat and herb salad with truffle vinaigrette, fried sweetbreads with apricot jam and charred fennel, and a JLT, an open faced jowl sandwich with tomato, frisée, and a fried egg. The atmosphere is casual.

          I love the cocktails at Sable and the food is pretty good, but the front area can get very loud. We were there, late, on both a Weds and a Thursday, and it was pretty loud around the bar.

          Girl and the Goat is excellent. Call NOW to book a reservation in September. They book 3-6 months in advance. It is also casual.

          For a casual chef's tasting, try Yusho, a Japanese small plates/yakitori inspired restaurant in Logan Square. The atmosphere is that of a ramen bar/yakitori place. The tasting is based upon whatever the chef feels like cooking that day. Great cocktails, technique, ingredients.

          Based on your parameters, Next would actually work pretty well. It's a tasting menu format but not terribly formal at all. They have been putting tables on sale sans announcement several times over the last few weeks.

          1. It would be worth your time to venture to Telegraph Wine Bar, which has great food along with the wine. Just hop on a Blue line train and get off at the Logan Square stop.
            http://telegraphchicago.com/

            2 Replies
            1. re: camusman

              I second Telegraph. If you go to the web site, you can find their glass pours and their bottle list.

              1. re: deesher

                aknabe, Are you staying downtown? There are a few great wine bar spots around, but my faves are in the north a bit.