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Aug 26, 2013 08:10 PM

Visiting in September, need restaurant recommendations....

Good evening, I'm visiting with my partner in September -- looking for a great, trendy, somewhat romantic restaurant for a proposal. I've looked at Everest, Tru, Moto and others (Alinea is booked), -- any suggestions? We're foodies and love tasting menus but who's the best?

Thanks for your help

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  1. It sounds like you are describing North Pond. Not always my favorite of the top foodie-oriented restaurants in Chicago, you got me at "romantic" and "proposal." North Pond is in LIncoln Park (the park, not the neighborhood) in a lovely Arts and Craft warming house originally designed for skaters alongside a pond in the park with a view of the skyline.

    Chef Bruce Sherman is a James Beard award-winner. The food, IMO, can be sketchy. I have had tasting menus there where some courses were quite wonderful and others just missed the mark. One dish that featured carrots and lobster just left me confused.

    I've also had mixed experiences with Everest. The view is spectacular (request a table near the windows) and the food was some of the best I've ever had. The service was sadly lacking with gaffe-after-gaffe by the wait staff. It was as though the FOH and BOH had never met. Others have talked about memorable service so who's to say?

    Tru remains a strong choice, although perhaps not as romantic as the other two.

    I am not a fan of Moto.

    Have you considered Goosefoot? Might be difficult to get a reservation for Sept., but worth a call.

    1. I would choose between Moto or Grace is Alinea were booked. All three of these venues have outstanding food, ambiance, service and are a true dining experience rather than just a great meal. They are all more tredny/modern then Tru and Everest (which still serve outstanding cuisine, but have become just a tad dated - especially Everest - IMHO).

      Moto has really stepped up there game over the past year and a half. Still extremely interesting, whimsical courses, but they no longer are emphasizing theatrics over taste, but are only utilizing modern techniques if they enhance the taste. During my first visit there many of the courses had a wow factor regarding the presentation but taste wise were mediocre; now most courses taste outstanding irrespective of the interesting presentation. I love the staff here and they do an excellent job with the wine pairings. Make sure to request downstairs seating; far more intimate space as well as more interesting (it is set up like a science lab and there is a food prep area in view of the tables so you can watch the chefs in action). Also request a kitchen tour; they have a really unique set up with all sorts of modern gadgets and a really cool indoor farm. Moto has become my wife and mine venue of choice for celebrating our birthdays.

      Grace is Chicago's newest fine dining venue (helmed by Curtis Duffy, formerly of Michelin two star venue Avenues). Two tasting menus to choose from, one with several meat/seafood courses, the other primarily vegetarian (and can be made completely vegetarian). The plating looks like works of art and most courses taste as good as they look. I also have experienced top notch service here. Definitely a romantic venue with a stunning, elegant but comfortable dining room.

      I do enjoy North Pond (recommended below) and the setting is no doubt more beautiful than Moto or Grace, but IMHO the food, service and over all experience is superior at Moto or Grace.

      1. So, Everest... is it less trendy, but more about the view? I'm looking for a great tasting menu and super cool trendy place... upscale.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rhbulldawg

          Everest has great food, is certainly upscale and some seats have a wonderful view, but it is anything but cool or trendy. It is old fashioned. A perfect choice if you want a classic fine dining experience, but not so much if seeking something modern.

          1. re: rhbulldawg

            You might really enjoy El Ideas. Very good, creative tasting menu. Off the beaten path. BYO. Diners can hang out in the kitchen between courses. Chef Phillip Foss comes out to talk about each course. More casual than traditionally upscale but at $135/person hardly shabby.