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Pre-theatre dinner question

c
Camille531 May 1, 2013 04:08 PM

Have learned lots from spending time reading the Chicago posts, but still have a few questions.
Travelling to Chicago next week with a group, and I am taking the responsibility of booking the restaurants. I did this 3 years ago after spending hours on Chowhound, and everyone enjoyed the choices, which included North Pond, Zocalo, Nacional 27 & Cafe des Architectes among others.
This time I am booking for a group of 6, 2 of whom I barely know.
I have currently booked Everest for 6 of us for a pre-theatre dinner. Does anyone know how much, if any choice is involved in the pre-theatre menu? I am a little concerned about the adventurous, or lack thereof palates of some of the group....I don't want to arrive and find out the menu is set in stone and 2 of the gals won't want to eat whatever is served...beginning to think Petterino's might be a better choice. (and I know there will be no comparison!) Am also a little twitchy about the service...not a lot of positives in 'Yelp-land' or TA reviews.
Any ideas for a pre-theatre meal before heading to the Apollo Theatre? So far all I've found in the area is Aquitaine - and there's not much said about it on Chowhound.
Friday night suggestions, and I know I'm too late for reservations for many places, but it is one evening where we don't have theatre or tour plans - staying in the River North area on Illinois Street, but happy to cab to most places. Not super expensive please, GT Fish & Oyster already booked up, thinking Mercat a la Planxa, Mexique, or Mercadito.
Have managed to snag a reso at Topolabambo for lunch and now have to choose between Sable or Girl and the Goat, have made reservations at both for the same evening - any input there?
Thanks for any and all help/suggestions.

  1. c
    Camille531 May 2, 2013 10:55 AM

    Thanks for everyone's suggestions, I've consulted with half my group and phoned Everest. So now our dining eatinerary looks like this:
    Tuesday night dinner at Sable with 4 of us.
    Wednesday lunch at Topolabambo for 2 of us,
    Question - early dinner Wednesday for 6 of us before 8 pm Second City show - Boka, Cafe Spiaggia or Cafe des Architectes? Which one?
    Thursday $54 prix fixe pre-theatre set menu at Everest - they will substitute if any diner has allergies...
    Friday 8 pm at Mercat la Planxa
    Saturday pizza at Lou Malnati's before Million $$ Quartet
    Will try and fit in Pops for Champagne some afternoon, and maybe lunch at Fox & Obel on Saturday.
    Sunday - I need a lunch place suggestion - anywhere between Robie House (early morning tour) and our hotel in River North.
    Whew....I'd better plan on walking off alot of this!! :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Camille531
      nsxtasy May 2, 2013 11:41 AM

      >> Question - early dinner Wednesday for 6 of us before 8 pm Second City show - Boka, Cafe Spiaggia or Cafe des Architectes? Which one?

      Each of those three is good, but all of them are about a mile from Second City. If I were you, I would instead go to Perennial Virant, which is only two blocks from the show. It's equally excellent, and it will be much more convenient geographically.

      >> Sunday - I need a lunch place suggestion - anywhere between Robie House (early morning tour) and our hotel in River North.

      Would you prefer to eat lunch/dinner type food, or breakfast/brunch type food? And would you prefer a smaller/lighter meal, or a larger/dinner-ish meal?

      1. re: nsxtasy
        c
        Camille531 May 2, 2013 12:22 PM

        Thanks nsxtasy, have just booked Perennial Virant. As for Sunday I am thinking more lunch-ish, and a smaller lighter meal...don't know where dinner is that night, as it's the one night I am not responsible for!

        1. re: Camille531
          nsxtasy May 2, 2013 01:51 PM

          Here are three P-P-P-possibilities for sandwiches, all open on Sundays:

          Pastoral's Loop location on Lake, across the river from River North, has some great sandwiches, also great cheeses. www.pastoralartisan.com

          Portillo's on Ontario in River North has some Chicago classics, such as Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs. www.portillos.com

          Panozzo's Italian market in the South Loop is another option for sandwiches. www.panozzos.com

          Another non-sandwich possibility is to go to Chinatown, to one of the many Chinese restaurants, such as Phoenix for dim sum, or one of Tony Hu's restaurants like Lao Sze Chuan.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            c
            Camille531 May 2, 2013 05:42 PM

            Thanks nsxtasy, I will report back when I return!

    2. k
      kathryn May 1, 2013 09:49 PM

      Girl and the Goat with unadventurous people sounds tough since they probably wouldn't want any oyster dishes or goat dishes. Would they think shishito peppers with miso and Parmesan is weird? What about wood fired pig face? Would you feel constrained when ordering? Sable is probably safer in that regards.

      1. nsxtasy May 1, 2013 06:03 PM

        >> I have currently booked Everest for 6 of us for a pre-theatre dinner. Does anyone know how much, if any choice is involved in the pre-theatre menu?

        I know their website shows a fixed three-course menu with no choices for the courses. I'm sure you could choose whatever you want, but the key question is whether they would allow substitutions for their normal prix fixe charge ($50, I think) or a small upcharge, or if this opens the door to a much larger bill than you may expect. It may be worth calling the restaurant to discuss.

        If you decide to switch the reservation, I'd recommend one of our three really superb Italian places within a few blocks of the Bank of America Theater: Vivere, tesori, or the Florentine. (Sorry, but I've been a bit less impressed with Trattoria No. 10 or Petterino's than with any of these three - not that either of those is bad, but I'd go with one of those three, any of which should still please picky eaters.) All of these places have a big theater crowd and are accustomed to pacing meals to finish at whatever time you specify (I recommend mentioning that time when making your reservation as well as upon your arrival).

        >> Any ideas for a pre-theatre meal before heading to the Apollo Theatre?

        I agree with masha that having your meal in the vicinity of the Apollo would be best, to eliminate the need to hurry or worry about transportation. However, I'd be a bit leery of Mon Ami Gabi and Perennial Virant, because both are quite a long walk away (1.3 miles and 1.0 miles, respectively), although both are quite good. Café Ba-Ba-Reeba serves excellent tapas and is somewhat closer (0.7 miles). If you want to keep it within a block or two, Lou Malnati's serves some of the best deep-dish pizza in the city, and has a location just around the corner on Wrightwood. You can call ahead with your pizza order, otherwise allow 30-45 minutes for your pizzas to bake. A block south on Lincoln is Clarke's Diner, which has okay diner fare, which might not impress the foodies but it's reasonably priced and close by.

        >> Friday night suggestions, and I know I'm too late for reservations for many places, but it is one evening where we don't have theatre or tour plans - staying in the River North area on Illinois Street, but happy to cab to most places. Not super expensive please, GT Fish & Oyster already booked up, thinking Mercat a la Planxa, Mexique, or Mercadito.

        I like Mercat and Mexique a lot, although neither is close by. But given that you will be lunching at Topolobampo, Mexique might be too much Mexican. Given that you're already in River North, I'd be looking at Sable, which has superb contemporary American small plates. It's not clear from your post whether this question is for the same night as your existing reservations at Sable and Girl and the Goat...? I love Sable, and I found G&TG disappointing (especially the desserts), although there are folks who will disagree with that on either or both counts.

        Just to throw another few hats into the ring, I'd also consider Café Iberico for tapas (it's walkable, unlike Mercat, but unfortunately does not accept reservations), and would also consider one of our terrific Italian restaurants that are walkable (Piccolo Sogno Due, Coco Pazzo, or, a little further, Café Spiaggia).

        1. m
          masha May 1, 2013 04:16 PM

          The Apollo Theatre is in Lincoln Park, which is a few miles north of Everest. If it were me, I'd want to book dinner at a restaurant that was closer to the theater. I recommend that you use Opentable and the filter for the "Lincoln Park" neighborhood, and you will find a large number of choices; this should be the link: http://www.opentable.com/opentables.a... 7:00:00 PM&scpref=100&fsr=1#state{MetroAreadID:3|MacroID:11|NeighborhoodList:65|SearchType:reg|StarRatingsFlag:1|RequestedNeighborhoods:65

          }

          Among good choices in that area would be Mon Ami Gabi and Perennial Virant.

          If you wanted to expand the geographic area a bit, you could opt for "Lake View" which is to the north of Lincoln Park. Note that Lake View encompasses a fairly large territory, so you'd want to stay in the south and eastern portions. All of the restaurants on Opentable include links to a map showing their location.

          2 Replies
          1. re: masha
            c
            Camille531 May 1, 2013 04:51 PM

            Thanks Masha, I guess I wasn't very clear. The Thursday night we have the Everest reservation we are going to the Bank of America theatre. On the Saturday evening we are heading to the Apollo. Will check on Opentable for your suggestions.

            1. re: Camille531
              m
              masha May 1, 2013 05:39 PM

              As an alternative to Everest or Petterino's before the BOAT, you might consider Trattoria No 10. It's Italian food with a focus on farm-to-table cuisine and homemade pasta. It's within 3 blocks of the theater and very experienced at getting pre-theater diners out in time for their curtains. I had 7:15 reservation there last week and there was a virtual stampede of diners leaving for Book of Mormans as I was arriving.

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