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Restaurants in my new 'hood - Division and Wood?

You're not too far from Mado.

Mado
1647 N Milwaukee Ave
773-342-2340‎

Sep 09, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Need help with decision-North Pond or Avec?

I'm 99% sure they are completely BYOB right now. Good idea to call and confirm.

Jul 09, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Need help with decision-North Pond or Avec?

Not at all true. In fact, I would say it's better than ever.

Jul 08, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Food Trip Questions

Personally I prefer North Pond, but a lot of people like Topolobampo. I actually prefer Salpicon to Topolobampo, but my favorite upscale-ish Mexican place right now is probably Sol de Mexico (which is a bit of a challenge to get to from downtown without a car).

Also, we're coming into my favorite time of year to visit North Pond. Because they're so focused on seasonal ingredients I feel like it is a much better restaurant in the spring and summer.

May 27, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Gift for my Bro.

Get him an A La Card (http://www.alacardchicago.com/).

A deck of 52 cards, each card is a $10 coupon for an independent local restaurant. It's a great way to explore different restaurants in all parts of the city. The deck only costs $30 (and $1 gets donated to Common Threads).

May 26, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Food Trip Questions

I don't believe North Pond requires a guarantee, but they'll let you know when you make your reservation.

I love Burt's, and I'm not a fan of deep dish pizza. Usually my problem with deep dish is that everything is so heavy (crust, sauce, cheese, toppings), but Burt's is more restrained. In other words, if you get a sausage pizza, don't expect a pizza covered "wall to wall" with sausage. Also, the ingredients are Burt's are much higher in quality than the local chains. All of the toppings are fresh from local markets, so what is available when you go will depend on what looks best to Burt at the market.

Enjoy!

May 26, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Food Trip Questions

Definitely call before they open (that's when Burt and Sharon prep for dinner that night). I would already have the backup reservation in place before you call. That way if you can't get through, or you can't get a pizza, you've already got something to fall back on.

May 26, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Food Trip Questions

A couple of responses for you..

Avec - As far as I know, the entire menu is available whenever you go (The Publican has a shorter menu until a couple of hours after they've opened).

Blackbird - Even though it's right next door and is also a Paul Kahan restaurant, it is a very different experience in terms of both atmosphere and food. If you want to do both, I say go for it.

Burt's - Call as early in the day as possible to make sure your pizza is ordered and reserved (or maybe even call the day before). When you order, you'll need to tell them what time you're coming in. That being said, it's not the worst idea in the world to have a back-up reservation at North Pond just in case (obviously you should cancel if you wind up going to Burt's). Whatever you do, please do not just show up at Burt's hoping for the best. You really do need to order in advance.

May 26, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Alinea - corkage fee versus their wines

They do have wine pairings (standard and "upgraded" for an additional charge). The pairings are a good way to go given the uniqueness of the food and each individual course.

However, if you're set on bringing your own wine, you really should call the restaurant to get their policy. If they do allow BYO, I'm sure they'd be happy to advise you on what to bring given what's on the current menu.

May 19, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Former Chicago gal needs help

I like Bistro Campagne, and their outdoor dining area is a great place to enjoy a meal on a nice night.

May 19, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

dress code North Pond/Graham Elliott?

Nice jeans are definitely ok at Graham Elliot. North Pond is a little dressier, but I'm almost positive I've seen people there in jeans (I don't wear jeans there, but that's just me). You can always call and ask.

May 19, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Best Sandwich at Pastoral?

Probably either the Campagne or Canard Balsamico.

May 17, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Alternative to Alinea?

If you wind up going on a Tuesday, I would highly recommend Avenues. I had dinner there last night (second time eating there under Chef Duffy) and it was excellent. Almost a perfect substitute for Alinea, as Chef Duffy's cooking has been highly influenced by his time spent in the kitchen at Alinea.

May 17, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Avec/Frontera Grill wait question

5:30 is generally pretty safe for Avec on a Saturday.

May 14, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Naha,Blackbird,Perennial or Aigre Doux

Sepia is hardly around the corner from Aigre Doux. Aigre Doux is right behind the Merchandise Mart on Kinzie. Sepia is down in the West Loop, about a mile away.

Maybe you're thinking of Avec?

May 14, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Chicago Dim Sum

Three Happiness (at least the "little" one across the street from the "big" restaurant of the same name). For strictly dim sum items, I think Shui Wah is better than Three Happiness (even though I really like Three Happiness for other things).

May 13, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Recommendations for Chinatown

For dim sum, I would recommend Phoenix (if you want carts) or Shui Wah (if you're ok with ordering dim sum from a menu). I love Little Three Happiness, but their dim sum isn't up to the level of Phoenix or Shui Wah.

Phoenix
2131 S Archer Ave
(312) 328-0848

Shui Wah
2162 S Archer Ave
(312) 225-8811

May 11, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Recommendations for Chinatown

If you do go to, please note that there are two restaurants with that name right across the street from each other. One is huge, the other is a little hole in the wall. You want the little one. I'd also recommend Lao Sze Chuan, which has a HUGE menu (although obviously the Szechuan dishes are the main attraction). Lao Sze Chuan has a bit of a "nicer" atmosphere than Little Three Happiness (but it certainly isn't high end).

"Little" Three Happiness
209 W Cermak Rd
(312) 842-1964

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S Archer Ave
(312) 326-5040

May 11, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Blackbird vs Avec

Which preparation of the pork did you have? It changes pretty regularly.

May 10, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

August Long Weekend

Three big industry hangouts these days are Avec, The Bristol and Mado. All 3 are excellent.

Avec doesn't take reservations, but Sundays are generally less crowded. The Bristol doesn't take reservations either, but they seem to always be busy. I would recommend making a reservation at Mado. I was just there last night and one of their servers mentioned that Sunday dinners have been pretty busy for them lately. They also occasionally run "family dinners" on Sundays, where they might bring in farmers or other producers and do an entire meal around their products. I haven't been to one, but I've heard really good things about these meals, including some pretty tasty "snout to tail" type dishes.

All 3 places are an easy cab ride from your hotel.

Avec Restaurant‎
www.avecrestaurant.com
615 W Randolph St
(312) 377-2002

The Bristol
www.thebristolchicago.com
2152 North Damen
(773) 862-5555

Mado Restaurant
twww.madorestaurantchicago.com
1647 N Milwaukee Ave
(773) 342-2340

May 07, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Social (and hungry) Butterfly

I'd add The Bristol to your list. Sort of gastro-pub-ish and there is a large communal table in the middle of the room. Decent cocktails too.

The Bristol
www.thebristolchicago.com
2152 North Damen
(773) 862-5555

May 05, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Lobster roll? Fried clams?

IMO, if you go to Bob Chinn's and get anything but crab, you're doing so at your own risk. I didn't even realize they had any of the things you ordered, except for the fries :)

May 04, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Looking for a special dinner

If you'd like more info on what L2O is all about, I would highly recommend checking out the restaurant's blog:

http://l2o.typepad.com/

May 01, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Looking for a special dinner

Agreed, L2O is fantastic. The quality of the fish is unmatched here in Chicago.

ETA - L2O has been nominated for a James Beard award in the Best New Restaurant category.

May 01, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Blackbird vs Avec

To give you some perspective, when my wife and I go our standard order is:

2 things from the small plates side of the menu
Focaccia
Whatever the prosciutto-oriented salad is
Maybe a cheese plate

I'm a pretty good eater, bu she definitely isn't. For 2 hearty eaters you could definitely add a small plate or 2, or the pork shoulder. I would highly recommend the pork shoulder, whatever the preparation is when you go.

Apr 28, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Blackbird vs Avec

Definitely agree with ms. chow. If you go late (10 or 10:30) you should be fine. I've gone there after shows on the weekends and haven't encountered bad waits.

Apr 28, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Blackbird vs Avec

On a weekend (unless you go early...like 5:30pm), I would recommend Blackbird. Prime-time waits on weekends can be in the neighborhood of 2.5 hours. I love Avec, but I wouldn't wait 2.5 hours to eat there (or anywhere for that matter).

You should be fine getting a cab back to your hotel. There's enough traffic on Randolph on weekend nights that it won't be a problem. I've never had a problem getting out of there via taxi either during the week or on the weekend, and I've been to both Blackbird and Avec tons of times.

Apr 28, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

3 days in chicago (river north)

Yes, Mado is excellent. Hyper-focused on local, seasonal ingredients and run by two of the nicest people in the business. I would highly recommend Mado.

Apr 25, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Short weekend trip - Lincoln Park and Devon tips?

Good call on the Half Shell. Please keep in mind that they are cash only if you end up going (and men should remove caps before speaking to the bartender to get seated).

Apr 23, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area

Short weekend trip - Lincoln Park and Devon tips?

You have a few pretty good options near Halsted and Diversey.

Sapori is right there, which is a very good neighborhood Italian restaurant. It's not the most authentic Italian you'll ever eat, but a lot of a pastas are housemade and it has a nice neighborhood atmosphere.

If you want sushi you've got two options. Itto Sushi is at Halsted and Wrightwood and is pretty good old school traditional sushi. If you walk over to Clark and Fullerton there's Ponzu, which is a little trendier but the quality of their fish is excellent (nigiri is where the action is at Ponzu, you can skip most of the rolls).

Right across the street from Ponzu is Emilio's if you want tapas. I think Emilio's is fine, but overpriced given the quality.

If you need cupcakes, check out Molly's Cupcakes (around Clark and Deming).

Sapori
www.saporitrattoria.net
2701 N Halsted St
(773) 832-9999

Itto Sushi
www.ittosushi.com
2616 N Halsted St
(773) 871-1800

Ponzu
2407 N Clark St
(773) 549-8890

Emilio's
www.emiliostapas.com
444 W Fullerton Pkwy
(773) 327-5100

Molly's Cupcakes
www.mollyscupcakes.com
2536 N Clark St
(773) 883-7220

Apr 23, 2009
jesteinf in Chicago Area