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Apr 30, 2014 08:52 PM

Perennial Virant or Balena?

thinking about going to one of those two.

On a Saturday night in May. i have been to Perennial Virant twice and really liked it. We are staying in River North but willing to venture out if any suggestions. Nothing too dressy. Two ladies and me.

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  1. Why not try a place you haven't been to before?

    I haven't been to Balena, but FWIW, last week I went to the Bristol, their sister restaurant, and I liked it a lot.

    Then again, since you're staying in River North, there are some great places in that area, so they're more convenient than going to Lincoln Park. GT Fish & Oyster and Sable are both terrific, and both inhabit the same small plates genre as Perennial Virant. Not that these are identical, of course, but all of these are very good, and I'd lean towards places that are more convenient and new to you, over ones you've already been to and are less convenient. OTOH if you're really dying for a return visit to Perennial Virant, then by all means go!

    As usual in Chicago, the dilemma is that there are so many great restaurants to choose from!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I love Balena and think it is a great choice for your group! There are many winning options in every category (cocktails, apps, pastas, pizzas, secondi, desserts), and the service staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

      1. re: GourmetWednesday

        Completely agree; Balena has become one of my very favorite restaurants in Chicago. Festive atmosphere, very reasonable prices, not too dressy but upscale cuisine that is consistently good, some of the best, friendliest service around and wonderful cocktails and wines to boot. Have yet to have a bad dish at Balena. Heading back there myself in a couple Saturdays.

    2. I eat at Balena a lot but even though Perrenial Virant is closer (a 5 minute walk) I go there pretty infrequently because I find the food more exciting at Balena (well worth a short cab ride). Great pastas, very good pizzas and sometimes really excellent appetizers. I usually get an appetizer (or split a pizza) and pasta. The mains never really call out to me (but my appetitite is smaller now than days of yore) and the app menu is a bit abbreviated for me but when they are to my liking they can be great. I probably eat there two to three times a month. The house made pastas make it an easy repeat for us and they don't get old.
      I've eaten at Sable and GT Oyster referenced by nsxtasy below and these offer really nice options but they are bot as good as Balena IMHO.

      1. well here is my plan.

        Friday night - Carnivale - been there and we liked it.
        Saturday night - The Publican
        Sunday night - Mindy's Hot Chocolate - been there before.

        Might do Perennial Virant for brunch if we do a brunch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jimmymack99

          Interesting; everybody said Balena was great and you ended up with this list. Publican is excellent, but IMHO Mindy's is rather mediocre (and Mindy herself recently stepped down from day-to-day presence at the restaurant and named a replacement) and Carnivale has a lively ambiance and decent food, but so many better venues in Chicago. Guess you prefer what is familiar to you.