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Another 1 day (Saturday) lunch and dinner rec

So my fiancé and I are headed to Chicago again. Looking for some input on a Saturday lunch and dinner.

For brunch / lunch I was thinking big jones. Haven't been there yet. I've been to Southport Grocery, Mhenry, Jam, Hot Doug's, Sprout, Purple Pig, North Pond, Longman and Eagle, Au Cheval, Little Goat Diner, The Publican, Carriage House.

For dinner I was thinking walk-in at Longman and Eagle bc we haven't eaten there for dinner or walk-in at Ruxbin as we haven't been there. Other ideas were two other places we also haven't been, Nightwood and Trenchermen. I wanted to try Goosefoot, Next or Bavette's Bar and Boeuf but they're booked. Also thought of going back to Elizabeth for the deer menu since we LOVED the diamond menu this past winter.

What are your thoughts? Thanks

Keep in mind we've been fairly recently (past year or so) to Elizabeth, Grace, Alinea, Yusho, Acadia, North Pond, Avec, Takashi, and EL Ideas.

Also, I will have my car so getting to somewhere is of no issue and with respect to price I don't have a restriction.

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  1. For brunch/lunch, since you're thinking of Big Jones, go for it! It's a nice a la carte brunch, and they bring wonderful complimentary beignets.

    For dinner, I would avoid walking into a popular place that doesn't accept reservations on a Saturday night. Why subject yourself to a 2+ hour wait to be seated - a big chunk of your day in Chicago - when there are plenty of other places where you can make a reservation and avoid the issue entirely? So I'd go to a place where you can make a reservation. Nightwood is excellent and worth considering. I haven't been to Trenchermen or Elizabeth but I know a lot of people enjoy both. And all three accept reservations.

    If you're looking for additional ideas for places you haven't been, I see that many of the places you've been are high/higher-end places. You haven't mentioned several of our others: TRU, Everest, or Spiaggia, and they're all very good indeed. And if you're looking for a restaurant which "bridges the gap" between the expense ($200+/pp) and formality of high-end, and our inexpensive (<$100/pp) casual restaurants, you've been to Acadia and North Pond, but Naha is a glaring omission. Naha is outstanding in every way, with the creative delicious contemporary American food of an accomplished James Beard Award-winning chef, Carrie Nahabedian, and the superb service of high-end restaurants, but with a more moderate price point (figure $100-150/pp inclusive of moderate alcohol and tax/tip) and a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere (business casual attire, jackets NOT required/recommended). Naha is doing great things and is sometimes overlooked because it's been around for a few years now.

    If you want to consider a more casual restaurant this time around, in addition to Nightwood and Trenchermen, Anteprima serves superb contemporary Italian cuisine in a friendly neighborhood-y atmosphere in Andersonville (on the next block from Big Jones), and Boka in Lincoln Park is another excellent place for contemporary American.

    HTH!

    13 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the excellent recs as always. We were thinking of going to those walk in places quite early like though, like 5-5:30p or something, start of service, and then possibly go to a movie or just walk around after. I actually have reservations at Nightwood and Trenchermen for later in the night that Saturday in case we are quoted a crappy wait time. I'll show my fiance the menus I guess along with Naha and see what she says and then cancel one of the reservations.

      1. re: prcentauri

        For 2 at L&E before 5:30 you should be pretty good, especially if it's a nice day and the outside is open. It does fill up quickly after that.

        1. re: ferret

          thanks for the heads up. have you had dinner there? i had a great brunch there several months ago. any standout dinner items or does the menu seem to change frequently?

          1. re: prcentauri

            The menu at L&E will almost certainly be changing in the near future, because they just brought a new chef on board (Brian Runge, formerly of Premise and Graham Elliot). I think this is likely to be a big improvement, based on my last visit there! Hopefully fans of L&E will also be pleased.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              As an aside, the current menu is the weakest of the last three I've seen last summer. Still a great meal but some of the dishes from the past are really missed.

              1. re: ferret

                yeah i'm probably gonna pass on walk-in at L&E.

            2. re: prcentauri

              We make it there every few months. A few weeks ago was the most recent. Menu does change but there's always a foie gras preparation worth trying. As for anything else, it's just a matter of what you're in the mood for. A couple of standout dishes have disappeared from the menu but everything we ordered was great.

              1. re: ferret

                The places you enjoyed in the last year are some of my favorites in town. Based on this, I think Nightwood would be a good choice for you. If you liked Au Cheval and were checking Bavette's, consider Maude's Liquor Bar (www.maudesliquorbar.com), from the same team. I am excited to be going for the first time next week. Also haven't been to Trencherman, so this is purely anecdotal, but three different sets of friends, including recently, have left somewhat disappointed--nothing horrible, just with some noted room for improvement and no plans to return. I am one of the fans of L&E, although have not been for dinner, only lunch and an evening cocktail. Last night, Friday, at about 5:45, I spaced out while on the Diversey bus, missed the Kedzie stop on my way to Yusho, and the next stop was directly across from L&E. The main room was already totally packed (I didn't ask about wait times for dinner), but there is a small room, with about five two-tops, in the back, next to the patio (it was too cold to serve or sit outside), where I enjoyed a nice Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned.

                1. re: GourmetWednesday

                  thanks for the info. what if i'm between nightwood and ruxbin?

                  1. re: prcentauri

                    Nightwood accepts reservations, including on Opentable. Ruxbin only accepts them on Sundays. Since this is for a Saturday night, I'd choose a reservation at Nightwood, rather than waiting a horrendously long time to be seated at Ruxbin.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I already have a reservation at Nightwood. Yea I was wondering if I should show up a bit prior to opening at Ruxbin and try to walk in but from your post it sounds like it's not worth the hassle to do a walk in

                      1. re: prcentauri

                        If you're willing to dine early and show up before they open at 5:30, then by all means consider Ruxbin. You might also check their websites to see if one menu or the other appeals to you more, as well as which location is more convenient to you. If you're dining early so the wait isn't an issue, then they're both good choices!

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          IMO, Ruxbin and Nightwood are both great options, and I believe you'd enjoy both. Perhaps choose one this trip and one next time. One more distinction to be aware of, however, in the event it matters to you, is that Nightwood has a respectable bar program and Ruxbin is BYOB.

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