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Apr 1, 2013 07:30 PM

Menu Standouts? - Little Goat, Balena, The Gage

I'm going to be in Chicago this weekend and am planning meals at Little Goat, Balena, and The Gage. Can anyone recommend exceptional items from these menus?

I'm also interested in finding a good Thai restaurant near River North or the Loop.


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  1. The Gage: Scotch Egg, Poutine, Mussels Vindaloo, Antelope Tartare, Saddle of Elk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hoppy2468

      Thank you! Going tonight and may give the Poutine a try. Had lunch at Little Goat today and got to meet Stephanie, which was amazing. Dinner at Balena last night was one of the best meals I've ever had. Our favorite items were by far the orecchiette and the chicken thighs. That food was transcendent.

    2. Did you end up going to Little Goat? How was it?

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Had brunch (10AM) at Little Goat today. The standout of the meal was the management team -- table of 5 with two little kids and an order that was not fully entered. A very attentive manager expedited the food and then as we were leaving offered a couple gift cards for the service lapse. The entire episode was handled quite well.

        On the food side, the Asian Breakfast Crispy Tasty Thingy was great. A breakfast special of a Goat and Beef hot dog with pancakes and eggs was enjoyed and the burrito was deliciously served on naan.

        On the Little Goat Bread shop in the French Market at Ogilvy Train Station, I was very happy with their turkey sandwich with house made pickles and potato crisps on a fantastic roll.

      2. I eat at Balena quite a lot and their pastas (particularly the non-stuffed variety) and pizzas are just terrific. The food is seasonal but two always on the menu favorites are the squid ink pasta with sea urchin (uni) and crab and the pasta with pork Ragu. A constant pizza I love is the taleggio and mushroom but the seasonal Brussels sprouts variation is also great. One of the best versions of spaghetti carbonara that I've ever had was a special on the menu but I've only seen it once or twice. I am not a fan of any of their stuffed pastas. I don't know why but the filling is always underwhelming. The chef can make such great unstuffed pasta that I don't know why the stuffed seems so lackluster. The only main course that I have tried (Their pasta and pizzas are really that good) is the florentine beef steak which I really enjoyed but you need a table of four to consume properly. Of the appetizers the house made sausage (I love the lamb sausage) with beans and pickled onions is a real standout for me. The bruschetta with mushrooms is a very hearty appetizer that needs to be shared.

        1. Re. Balena I almost forgot an appetizer I have gotten to like a lot, the roasted shishito peppers with tuna conserva. Very tasty. You might want to pass on the pasta cacio e pepe. It's the kind of food I never order out because it is so dead easy to make at home if you know how to get the cheese pepper and pasta water just right but I wanted to taste it with superior pasta and the sauce was rather insipid on the night I tried it. Not enough or in sufficiently sharp pecorino? Not sure but it was a dud for me.