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Dinner reccomendations, walking distance from Union Station.

c
cap May 6, 2013 01:48 AM

Looking for nice little restaurants within walking distance from Union Station, for dinner. So far all I've found is Paola's Vinum. Is it any good?

  1. c
    cap Jun 26, 2013 12:05 AM

    So we ended up not eating near Union Station at all.

    Here is where we ate our 3 meals in Chicago ...
    Our train from L.A. arrived in Chicago late Wednesday afternoon. We checked into our hotel (Westin River North), freshened up and walked to Sable for dinner (I had booked well ahead through Opentable). Every aspect of Sable was excellent; food, wine and service. We had
    Small serve (huge) of excellent Olives
    Full serve of Veal Meatballs, they were amazingly delicious
    Full serve of Devilled Eggs, delicious and decadent
    Full serve of Tuna Tartar Tostadas, just so good
    Full serve of Bacon Jam, great flavours but way too much, wish they'd offered a small serve of this. Would have preferred Less Bacon Jam and another serve of Eggs or Tuna, or one of the other items on the menu.
    For dessert my wife had the daily Sorbet and I had the Maple Bread Pudding, both perfect.
    If this restauarant was local to us we'd eat there weekly (at least).

    The next day we were a bit slow starting and decided to forgo planned breakfast at Heaven on Seven, instead checking out the Chicago Cultural Center before an early lunch at Terzo Piano in the Art Institute. Another fine experience. We had
    Olives, a ncie selection
    Ham Croquettes, delicate and tasty
    Fried Artichokes with Anchovy Aioli, simple but tasty
    Fettucine with Fiddleheads & Pancetta
    Spaghettini with Bottarga & Chili
    Both pasta dishes were truly excellent with rich but not overwhelming flavours and a nostalgic fiddlehead kick for my wife (can't get them in Australia).

    We decided not to try eating near Union Station that evening, instead after a late checkout from our hotel we left our bags with the porter and joined the queue for Frontera Grill. Got seated in the bar by 5:40, not too bad. We had
    Razor Clam & Scallop Ceviche
    Frontera Ceviche
    We are suckers for all sorts of raw/semi-raw seafood, and these both fulfilled our expectations of deliciousness. But after that things sort of faded...
    Street Food Trio, enjoyed the Tlacoyos but found the Potosinas and Sopes a bit boring
    Chiles Rellenos, again enjoyed the Pork one but found the Cheese one a bit boring, rice and black beans were meh.
    We shared dessert, can't remember what, it was quite tasty but again not outstanding.
    So surprisingly the most anticipated (to us) restaurant ended up as the least memorable here. Not bad, just not exciting.
    Maybe we chose poorly and should have gone for Moles etc.
    Nice Margaritas though.

    Highlight was Sable, thanks to all those who reccommended Sable in other threads.

    One interesting note. When we moved to Australia 7 years ago Gruner Veltliner (which we love) was pretty rare in the U.S.A. This trip we found it in restaurants everywhere. Amazing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cap
      nsxtasy Jun 26, 2013 09:18 AM

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad you enjoyed your visit!

    2. k
      kathryn May 9, 2013 07:46 AM

      See also (looks like Greek Town may be a better area?):
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/901369

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn
        nsxtasy May 9, 2013 10:13 AM

        Greek Town isn't "better"; it's just different. It's good if you're looking for old-school Greek food, otherwise there isn't much else there. From Union Station, Greek Town is west; the French Market, Province, and Embeya are north; and the Florentine is east in the Loop, all roughly the same distance (4-6 blocks, around 10 minutes walk). If you're willing to walk a bit further (say, up to a mile), then you can consider the rest of the Loop, the "restaurant row" of the West Loop strung out around Fulton and Randolph Streets (west of Blackbird, north of Greek Town), and the south end of River North.

        That discussion was a bit different from this one because they were looking for places within two blocks (there isn't much), plus it was for a Sunday, a day when many places in the vicinity of Union Station (including Province and the French Market) are closed.

      2. nsxtasy May 6, 2013 07:01 AM

        Depending on what day of the week and time of day you prefer to dine, one possibility is to walk four blocks north to the French Market, which is inside another commuter train station, the Ogilvie Transportation Center. You can walk there from Union Station on Clinton or Canal Street in under ten minutes. It's open till 7:30 weekdays, 5:30 Saturdays, and closed Sundays, although stalls may be cleaning up and winding down as you approach closing time. The French Market is relatively new and has some of our best eating finds. I especially recommend Saigon Sisters (for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches), Lillie's Q (for barbecue), Fumare (for Montreal-style smoked meat), Pastoral (for sandwiches and cheeses), and Vanille Patisserie (one of our best shops for pastry and baked goods). The French Market has a website with directions and a full listing of vendors at www.frenchmarketchicago.com You'll need those directions because the French Market is not inside the main concourse of the Ogilvie Center you first come to (on Madison south of the tracks) but is a block north of there. It's easier to find by staying outside and walking the extra block north on Canal or Clinton past Washington Street and you'll find an entrance to the concourse where the French Market is located.

        Other excellent possibilities within a ten-minute walk of Union Station include three upscale restaurants and two casual ones for pizza:

        Province (small plates, contemporary global cuisine) - www.provincerestaurant.com

        The Florentine (Italian) - www.the-florentine.net

        Blackbird (contemporary American) - www.blackbirdrestaurant.com

        Bacino's (double-crust "stuffed" pizza, S. Clinton location) - www.bacinos.com

        Giordano's (also stuffed pizza, W. Jackson location) - www.giordanos.com

        ...as well as the various Thai and Asian places as mentioned in this topic:

        Thai or Asian near Union Station or Loop - www.chow.com/topics/894814

        I've never heard of Paola's Vinum. If you go there, please report back on how you liked it!

        1 Reply
        1. re: nsxtasy
          c
          cap May 9, 2013 06:01 AM

          Thanks for the suggestions.
          We're looking to do dinner around 6:30.
          Lillies Q in the French Market would be great but I expect they will be well and truly sold out by 6:30.

          A bunch of small dishes at Province could be good, or tapas at Paolas Vinum although it looks like a small menu.
          Another possibility is Embeya, in the same neighbourhood as Province. Has a very interesting menu.
          Well, plenty of time to decide, won't be there for 4 weeks.

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