Toronto Hound Needs A Little Help...
3 nights the end of April. Here's what I'm thinking:
I have Sable booked for sure on the Saturday night...this one I'm 100% sure of.
Sunday night I booked GT fish & oyster (couldn't get a reasonable time on the Friday or saturday night I'm there).
Friday night I'm torn between Moto, Sprout & Mexique
Looking for interesting, buzzy atmosphere, maybe a little romantic (are those oxymorons?)...and of course incredible food.
Opinions? I'm leaning towards sprout...but Mexique sounds really interesting.
Is GT happening on a Sunday night or should I consider something else?
Thanks in advance!
>> Friday night I'm torn between Moto, Sprout & Mexique
>> Looking for interesting, buzzy atmosphere, maybe a little romantic (are those oxymorons?)...and of course incredible food.
They're three very different places. Moto, of course, is known for its molecular gastronomy, "tricks" like food that looks like one thing but is made from something else. I consider it all fun and interesting, but I didn't think the food was amazingly delicious. The atmosphere is the most subdued of the three - not quiet, but not as lively nor as casual as the others. Sprout is more along the lines of "mainstream" contemporary American; I thought the food was all pretty good, nothing bad, but nothing really blew me away either. The atmosphere struck me as very neighborhood-y, friendly and intimate but not overly buzzy (although you'll see plenty of buzzy-ness at both Sable and GT Fish). Mexique's food is very different from the other two, with its contemporary Mexican cuisine, with a slight hint of French influence. The atmosphere at Mexique is easily the most buzzy and lively of the three, with tables a bit closer together and the noise and activity level a bit higher. Personally, I was most impressed by the sheer deliciousness of Mexique over the other two. But these comments should give you a better idea of how they differ, to help you decide.
>> Is GT happening on a Sunday night or should I consider something else?
I haven't been there on a Sunday night, but I've been there several times, for lunch as well as dinner, always on weekdays as I recall, and it's always been lively every time I've been there. So I can only guess that Sunday would be the same.
Sable, Mexique, and GT Fish comprise a great trio of dinners for a three-night visit.
We can help you with brunches and snacks too! Here's an overview of both.
Our brunches fall into two categories. (1) Our breakfast-focused restaurants that serve breakfast/brunch all week long, and don't accept reservations. Waits to be seated are rare during the week, but are often 30-60 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays between roughly 9:30 and 1:00. The best of these - Jam, Bongo Room, M. Henry / M. Henrietta, Southport Grocery, and Batter & Berries - are away from downtown Chicago and the hotels. If you want to keep it close to the hotels, consider Meli Café on Wells, Original Pancake House on E. Bellevue, and Yolk. (2) Many dinner-focused restaurants also open for brunch on weekends (usually Sundays, and some on Saturdays), and most accept reservations. My favorite is Shaw's Crab House, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet; it's a great choice if you want a large meal and you enjoy seafood. Other excellent ones include North Pond (and its lovely setting in the park), Café des Architectes, Perennial Virant, and Mexique. I've posted dozens of detailed reports in the brunch topic at www.chow.com/topics/364403
Chicago's mecca for daytime snacking is the French Market, just west of the Loop in the concourse of a commuter train station. The dozens of vendor booths include some of the best of their type in the city, including Vanille Patisserie, Pastoral (cheeses and sandwiches), Lillie's Q (barbecue), and many others. Closed Sundays. www.frenchmarketchicago.com
Garrett's Popcorn has locations all over downtown and at O'Hare, where you can get caramel popcorn (with or without cashews, pecans, almonds), cheese popcorn, or the "Chicago mix" of the two. If you enjoy pastries, two of our very best - Floriole and Vanille - are only a few blocks from each other in Lincoln Park; in the downtown area, Toni Patisserie is very good as well.
For savory snacking, stop by the Purple Pig, another of our small plates restaurants. Just don't go there during mealtimes; because they don't accept reservations, waits to be seated are horrendous (typically an hour before 1:30 pm, 2+ hours between 4:30 and 10:00 pm).
I enjoy Moto, Sprout and Mexique (have been multiple times to all three) but Moto in my opinion is by far the superior option of these three. While my first trip to Moto it seemed a bit gimmicky and was not too impressed taste wise with several courses, over the past years they have made really significant improvements. While the food is still interesting, unique and beautiful it now tastes on par with other high end venues. Moto added an extremely talented pastry chef (Claire Crenshaw - who came over from Tru) and dessert is now really a strong point. Richie Farina (former Top Chef contestant) is now heading up the savories and his last couple of menus have been outstanding. He just rolled out some new dishes for spring time - I plan to return soon to check them out!
Mexique would be my second choice of those three you mentioned. Some other venues you may want to consider where I have recently had outstanding meals would be Grace, Sixteen, Elizabeth and Boka. There are a few others, but reservations for April would likely be tough, so I will not mention them.