A few weeks ago I posted a request for Chicago restaurant recommendations
(as well as wine stores and wine bars). I'd like to sincerely thank all
you kind folks who responded, either to the list or to me directly. My
wife and I were there May 18-23. The main purpose of the trip, ironically,
was so my wife could attend the National Restaurant Association trade
show (she's a hospitality educator). It's a HUGE show through which I
ate and drank my way for three days.
When not at the show nibbling on food samples or downing a complimentary
Sam Adams or Labatts, we managed to help stimulate the economy of Chicago
in some great restaurants, bars, and shops. Here's a very brief review.
If you want more details, email me directly.
Printers Row: I my opinion, the single best dining experience I had in
Chicago during either this trip or my last trip (which was about 15 years
ago). Great food, a fantastic wine list, and outstanding service by folks
who really know both the food and wine they serve. Not cheap, but absolutely
a great value. Note that this is the restaurant named Printers Row. There
is a Chicago neighborhood called Printers Row, and yes, the restaurant
Printers Row IS in the Printers Row neighborhood. Confused yet?
Frontera Grill By now it's a Chicago classic. Great authentic Mexican
food that goes light years beyond tacos, burritos, etc. Had an outstanding
piece of fish (real thick; haddock? can't remember) cooked perfectly.
I'm not a big margarita (sp?) fan, but damn, theirs are very, very, very
good. Maybe that's why I can't remember what kind of fish I ate? Bustling,
noisy, but good service and a revelation as to the heights Mexican food
MK In a building with a very unassuming exterior (Could this really be
the place?) but a beautifully restored interior. A little too trendy,
Manhattan-ish for my tastes, with a polite reception that had a subtle
snootiness to it. UnChicago-like. The food was excellent, though. I don't
normally order a steak when I go to restaurants that are known for their
creative and innovative cooking, but I was in Chicago, stockyard of the
country, and I was determined to have a great steak somewhere. The one
on their menu sounded as good as any, so I gambled and ordered it. WOW!!!
May very well have been the best steak I've ever had in a restaurant.
USDA Prime, tender as you
could want, and a wonderful beef flavor usually missing from steak nowadays.
My wife had the entree combining lamb shank and lamb rack. Another WOW!!!
Again, not cheap.
Spiaggio Cafe The less expensive cafe neighbor of the get-a-second-mortgage-for-dinner
priced Spiaggio restaurant next door. We had lunch there, sitting a window
table with wonderful views of Michigan Avenue and downtown. The service
was very good, but unfortunately the food was only pretty good. There's
obviously talent in the kitchen, but I think the cafe food must receive
only a half-hearted effort.
The Berghoff We just didn't have time to make it to the B. Had dinner
there years ago on my last trip, and I hear it's as good as ever. Truly
a Chicago institution.
Wine, shops, etc.
The Palm Court at the Drake Hotel What can you say? After dinner drinks
at the Palm Court. It doesn't get much better. Just go and see for yourself.
My wife says they have a great high tea (in the afternoon, of course).
Pops for Champagne If you don't love champagne, don't go. But if you're
like me and think champagne is one of humankind's highest achievements,
you MUST go to Pops. About a dozen champagnes and sparkling wines by the
glass, about six half bottles, and 140--yes, 140--by the bottle. Appetizers
and desserts served after 5 or 6 pm. In a sketchy neighborhood, so you
might want to take a cab.
Chalet (sp?) A wine shop/deli/gourmet grocer we found quite by accident.
On Rush Street near Chicago I think, but you'd better check the location.
Great selection of wines, salamis, cheeses, etc.
So many restaurants, so little time! Again, thanks to all who helped by
responding to my post a few weeks ago.
-Mark If it weren't for the winters I could live in Chicago Mitchell