Recomendation for a Chicago dinner; something different (for me)
Hi everyone, I was hoping you fine folk could steer me to what I'm looking for.
I'm originally from Chicago but have been living abroad, specifically in Spain, for the past decade. We'll be going back to visit over the Xmas holidays and while most of the time will be spent with family and, food-wise, enjoying many of the things I miss most (read: italian beef, Schoop's hamburgers, etc) the wife and I would like to treat ourselves to a night out in the city that includes a very nice dinner.
I just saw that there are now 25 michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago, plus from what I've read on this board several others which could/should be starred. I'm sure all of them are quite good, so I'd like to narrow it down. We'd like something in the city, budget isn't an issue - although as an aside, coming from Spain I find the prices on American wine lists to be outrageous - but above all I'd like to have a meal/experience that is hard to find over here (Spain/France).
For this reason I've already crossed Alinea off the list - I'm sure it's an incredible restaurant but we've been to Mugaritz once and Quique Dacosta twice in the past 18 months so that kind of progressive/experimental experience is not what we're after. Having said that we enjoy creativity and are not looking for traditional or classic fare. We'd also like something that isn't too formal (note: not that we want something informal, just not TOO formal - i.e. I abhor places with dress requirements etc). If possible we'd like a tasting or price fixe menu.
Is there something perhaps like an American version of Le Reserve Rimbaud? I was considering Topolobampo, as Mexican, especially high-quality, is quite lacking here; but I don't think they have any set menus? Anyway I'm very open to suggestions and if I can provide any more info to help narrow things down please let me know.. Thanks in advance
Topolobampo does have the option of a la carte or tasting menus; they have three different five course tasting menus available each night (and the menu changes up a bit each month to highlight fresh/seasonal ingredients). You can each even order a different tasting menu and that way sample ten different courses. It fits the bill of being neither formal nor too casual. The prices for the wine pairing are fairly reasonable. It is also located a short walk from my favorite cocktail lounge (Berkshire Room) if you want a fun venue for a drink before or after dinner.
Goosefoot would also be an excellent option that fits your criteria, but unfortunately reservations are extremely difficult. Newly starred venues El Ideas, Senza and Elizabeth are also places I would recommend you look into.
I would second the recommendations from Gonzo for Goosefoot, El Ideas, and Elizabeth. Goosefoot and El Ideas have the advantage of being BYOB, so this should alleviate your concerns re: US restaurant wine-markups. As mentioned, Goosefoot is one of the most difficult reservations in town right now, although I have had some success using Open Table and repeatedly entering my dates until something appears. I think what makes Elizabeth and El Ideas very different than what you will find at other fine-dining, tasting menu establishments is the interaction with the chef/owners; Iliana Regan of Elizabeth and Phillip Foss of El Ideas both come across as very humble and gracious despite their talent and success.
My one experience at Topolobampo was over ten years ago, when very few places were doing fine dining other than continental or American cuisines. I would recommend reading posts regarding recent experiences before making your final choice.
Well after some more research and reading up here and other places we've decided to go for Senza. I think it really fits the bill of what we're looking for; the wine pairing for $60 looks tempting as well. Thanks very much for the recommendations as I don't believe I would have considered it otherwise. I'll write about my experience when I'm back. Looking forward to a fantastic meal!