t

TAsunder's Profile

Title Last Reply

Getting a reservation at Next for the El Bulli menu?

You can sell/xfer the kyoto and sicily tickets one way or another; no idea if you will be able to do so immediately. Typically they charge $10 for a ticket transfer.

There is no way to get tickets in person.

Feb 06, 2012
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Top Chef Texas: the Chicago Contingent

I'm hard-pressed to think of how the editing could be to blame here. Unless chefs constantly throw each other under the bus, obsess over past services, and yell at each other on screen endlessly, then they singled her out for this common behavior... but I really doubt that.

Dec 19, 2011
TAsunder in Food Media & News

Best 1 star in Chicago

Facebook has a feature where you can subscribe via SMS (text) to any updates posted by a user. When Next released more childhood tickets a couple of days ago, I was on the site within 30 seconds and had a large array of choices to choose from for quite a while. Simple and effective. Eventually word got out more widely seemingly about 30 min later and the site got slammed. I strongly encourage anyone looking for tickets to use the SMS alert feature. You have to set up your phone in FB I believe but it is well worth it.

They also have a lottery system of sorts for same day tickets regularly. Not really great for out of towners but worth it for locals who could make it the same day.

Finally, they regularly bring in customers at the Aviary for a seating. I don't know the methods they use but people have reported success with that strategy.

Another feature worth noting if you can score tickets is the tiered pricing system. The tickets they just released included $35/pp seatings. While it may fit in line with the above places on a weekend from 7-9pm, you could easily be $30-50/pp under that mark at other times.

Fill your prime spots on friday/saturday with the places above and go to next for a lot less on other days; I think it compares quite favorably to places in the weekday price range.

Dec 16, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Madison updates, please!

Sushi muramoto is focused on sushi more than small and large plates. Restaurant Muramoto has great sushi but their small and big plates are outstanding. I prefer Restaurant Muramoto overall. Although the sushi at both places is probably the best in Madison, it's still not remarkably good or unique. The dinner menu at the downtown (Restaurant Muramoto) location has a lot of unique, flavorful stuff that put the restaurant among Madson's best. An ideal "Restaurant Muramoto" dinner for me would involve a few "bite-sized" items (1 bite each), several items off the small/large plate menu, and their delicious duck/mango roll. And some dessert!

Dec 16, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes

Madison updates, please!

I think Graze it great but you could also consider Cooper's Tavern or the Old Fashioned for food along similar lines. I know they aren't exactly in the same genre but they are all worth visiting.

I don't think Sardine's dinner is worth your time. I like their brunch quite a bit but find their dinner menu underwhelming compared to other places around town.

I'll echo nx's opinion on 43 North for dinner. It's interesting, good, but nothing special. For brunch I'd say avoid at all costs.

Merchant's brunch is perhaps its best meal. Other meals offer inconsistency in food. Their drinks are always great, though, and that is the primary reason to visit the place.

Nostrano has outstanding desserts and good-to-great entrees. They also do lunch with a similar menu to the dinner menu.

One place not mentioned yet (though I am a bit spacey today so might have missed it) is Osteria Papavero, an increasingly-favorite pick lately for us.

I agree that Muramoto is not to be missed, but I not for the sushi. Sure, it's great, but the dinner and lunch menu are outstanding. I also enjoy some of their desserts. At $9 for lunch, it's nearly impossible to beat.

Great grocery/food stores? I'm partial to the Willy St. Coop (now with a second, larger location on the west side) for groceries, as well as the Jenifer St Market. I always advocate visiting Vom Fass which has oils, vinegars, and alcohol. Unique and fun place.

When you are visiting dumpling haus, you should consider swinging by DB infusions for some exotic caramels. They are best purchased 500 at a time so that you never worry about running out -- though I should note I am not wealthy enough to test this recommendation of 500.

I love Fromagination. Great cheese selection, and you can sample all of it. Just note that you can sometimes get the same cheeses for WAY cheaper elsewhere. They seem to price all cheeses similarly so some of the typically cheaper cheeses will be quite pricey there.

nx and book both gave great recommendations for options.

Dec 09, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes

2012 Michelin Stars

I wonder whether The Aviary could ever qualify as a "restaurant" for Michelin consideration (or other restaurant awards). I feel they have better food than most of the 1 star places I've been to. Granted, each "dish" is one bite and they don't have entrees per se, but I still think it's an interesting place to consider. And they certainly have better alcohol options than any restaurant on this list, in my opinion.

Nov 17, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

WI - Best Overall Restaurants (According to OpenTable)

Cafe Soleil has been closed for about a year and a half as well.

-----
Cafe Soleil
25 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

Nov 10, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes

Top Chef Just Desserts Finale

We finally watched this over the weekend and greatly enjoyed it. I don't want to assume too much about other people's opinions, but perhaps the reason that people don't watch/enjoy TC:JD as much is the utterly abysmal season 1 and the terrible personalities it features. They had to scrape the bottom of the barrel on that season. This season has been much better and we don't seem to have any people having complete mental breakdowns on camera or any alleged pedophiles.

Oct 31, 2011
TAsunder in Food Media & News

Very Special Occasion in Chicago - Restaurant Suggestions

North Pond has the exact sort of ambiance I would want for a 5th anniversary dinner. The building and location are excellent. I enjoyed the food well enough, but I can understand uhockey's statement as well. I wanted the food to be a little more consistent with the theme of the restaurant; it felt like they were trying too hard to be "fancy" while losing their supposed core values. The flavors were good but nothing extraordinary. They seem a bit over the top with their usage of cannelle shapes. Still, it wasn't what I would call "mediocre" food, but certainly I wished it were better still. Though I prefer the food at topolobampo, it is not what I would call a romantic, peaceful setting.

So, North Pond wouldn't be bad. It's too bad Alinea is out of your price range; that would be a perfect fit. Calm, romantic, fun, memorable, delicious.

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Sep 20, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Grant Achatz posts the next "NEXT" menu.

We felt comfortable with the pace - but that might have been due to already having had 3 cocktails each at Aviary. We had enough time to leisurely drink most wine pairings and refill our glass at least once. So, in other words, fairly hammered by the end of the night due to those 3 aviary drinks.

Alinea did seem to be at a luxurious pace the times I went. Yet, it's ~18 dishes in 3-3.5 hours vs ~9 dishes in 1.5-2 hours at Next. But I guess the dish sizes are more substantial at Next so that could be where the pacing was off.

As I said, I feel Aviary is much more special than Next. I did like Next quite a bit, however. I am guessing it belongs among the second tier Chicago restaurants below Alinea and the ones you mentioned. I enjoyed it a bit more than North Pond, although each had their strengths. The decor at Next, while nice, certainly doesn't come close to North Pond's.

I feel Aviary is a "must experience" and Next is a "nice to experience." The food at Aviary is actually quite delicious as well, though you would go broke trying to make a meal of it since it's $3-4 per small bite.

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Jul 12, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Grant Achatz posts the next "NEXT" menu.

I thought the Paris menu was outstanding food, but not up to the level of Alinea dishes. The service was stellar, however, and the wine pairings and non-alcoholic pairings were great. I'm not sure if you meant the dinner experience was rushed, or just the menu, but we didn't feel rushed at all. We had an almost scotch-like white that I really thought was a fun pairing. The only item I found disappointing was the dessert. The rest was noticeably better food than can easily be found at the $85/pp price point we paid (excluding parings).

I'm interested in this menu, but I am actually somewhere underwhelmed by some of it. I like Thai food more than French food typically, and this seems to be a somewhat less exciting menu in the genre. I'll still be slamming the refresh button, most likely.

We went to Aviary for a couple hours prior to Next. I have to say, that was indeed mind-blowing for us. The food was excellent, and the experience was great. I would call it the Alinea of cocktail bars. It cost us roughly the same amount as Next did... my bank account is still bruised. Totally worth it.

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Jul 07, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

"Chef-is-always-right" restaurants [moved from Los Angeles board]

I lean slightly towards the viewpoint of Gjelina in this case, but I also think it's worth noting that some of the very best restaurants I've been to would have no problem coming up with something if someone had aversions or allergies. Alinea and Next in Chicago both ask customers repeatedly about this - at the least when making a reservation and then again when you arrive. Not all scenarios can be accommodated, obviously, but clearly they consider it a key part of the experience to be able to serve people with such issues. Both are restaurants with a specific, fixed menu that is carefully crafted by a master chef and his staff.

This is not what happened here, but I do wonder what would have transpired if Beckham had said something to the effect of "I'm pregnant and highly averse to [onions and other items] and looking for a healthy seafood dish similar to the smoked fish." A chef of the supposed calibur at Gjelina (haven't eaten there, might soon on my upcoming visit) at a restaurant of acclaim should have no problem responding to such a request. Too bad that's not how it went down. Instead it went down where it is easy for me to side with the restaurant.

Jun 20, 2011
TAsunder in General Topics

Alinea [split from Manhattan]

If you want to be tipsy after a wine pairing at an Achatz restaurant I guess you will have to try Next. They often leave the bottle on the table for one or more wine pairings regularly. When we visited, the bottle remained for every single one.

When I last visited Alinea, we saw Chef Achatz and other chefs preparing the dessert onto the mats. When it was our turn, it was served on a plate. I must admit that I was disappointed, because part of the experience was lost. The servers told us that there were some technical problems with the dish that came up and the chefs made the decision to plate in a controlled environment. Still, it felt like we missed a dish in a way.

Worth noting: chef achatz only plated for one of the 4 or 5 tables we saw receiving the mat-based dessert earlier that night.

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Jun 13, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Madison WI for Graduation Weekend

I'm late to the thread but your review of Eno & 43 N sum up my feelings as well. Eno Vino is among my favorites in the area; 43 N is enjoyable but not in my top 5, despite the fact that the head chef there used to be the head chef at Magnus, which was outstanding.

May 19, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes

Bourbon Trail & Where to watch the derby

I dipped a bottle of wheat. It seemed wrong to dip my own bottle of bourbon then open it.

May 13, 2011
TAsunder in Kentucky & Tennessee

Bourbon Trail & Where to watch the derby

We ended up watching the Derby at Parker's near/in Bardstown. Lots of fun people there and even a guy of dubious legality taking bets. They weren't serving Mint Juleps or Derby Pies, though, so that was kind of a bummer. Still, it was fun.

We took the tour at Buffalo Trace, Maker's Mark, Jim Beam. We also visited Four Roses and Woodford Reserve. Part of this may be that there were just TOO MANY people at Woodford the day before the Derby, but I was very underwhelmed and not interested at all in a tour. The place was just a bit too corporate-slimy for me. Even more than Jim Beam, somehow. Of the tours we took, Jim Beam was possibly the worst but better than described in this thread. We got a fair amount of information and got to stand in their warehouse. The other two were certainly much, much cooler. Marker's Mark's tour allowed us to actually look at the mash and distiller. And the visitor area was a lot of fun, with talking photos and fake phone calls, etc. Buffalo Trace was also great, and we got to stand 2 inches away from the people actively bottling Blanton's.

We managed to hit up Wallace Station and were very glad we did.

Circa was closed Saturday so we ended up at The Stable House (something like that) which was a great building, but meh food.

Chapeze house was pricey but the experience was very memorable and we were very glad we went. The food was pretty good comfort food, and the service was stellar. I loved talking to the Colonel about various things.

We hit up Moonlite BBQ per other threads here and enjoyed it in that sort of bad good food or good bad food or whatever way. The place was completely slammed on Mother's day, though! They didn't have any moonlite BBQ food at Maker's on Derby Day when we were there :(

We went to Liquor World to stock up before we left. Good prices there and they were helpful in identifying items we likely couldn't get elsewhere. They even had a signed bottle of Bulleit that we will be giving as a gift.

Overall a fun trip. Next time I will make sure to actually get seats at the derby. We didn't have time to go to Mammoth Caves this trip either.

-----
Wallace Station
3854 Old Frankfort Pike, Versailles, KY 40383

May 10, 2011
TAsunder in Kentucky & Tennessee

Bourbon Trail & Where to watch the derby

Thanks, all. Will try to remember to report back on the above suggestions.

May 02, 2011
TAsunder in Kentucky & Tennessee

Bourbon Trail & Where to watch the derby

My wife and I are headed to Kentucky next week. We are staying in Bardstown and our general plans so far are to go to Chapeze House, Mammoth Caves, and a lot of bourbon distilleries. My favorite bourbon brands that we can get around here are Four Roses, Eagle Rare, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace so we are planning to visit those possibly along with Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Marker's Mark.

This trip only coincidentally is at the time of the derby. We don't want to do the infield thing but are wondering where a good place to go to watch would be. Ideally the place will have good food and will have a nice TV on which to watch the brief race. Since we will be staying in Bardstown it doesn't have to be in Louisville.

Aside from that, are there specific distilleries worth a visit that we may not have heard of here in Wisconsin?

I have advised my wife not to drive away in the middle of the night to look for Timothy Olyphant; as such, we will have a car that we enjoy driving, so off the beaten path is doable for both items above.

Apr 29, 2011
TAsunder in Kentucky & Tennessee

Not really a review, but an observation of NEXT

The duck press and gratin look like a full entree to me. I imagine I'd be full but not overly full.

If the guy was taking photos with flash and continued after being asked to stop, then I am 100% behind Achatz on this one. Some clues in his posting make me think this is the case, but it could also be a case of mistaken identity (accusing the wrong person).

Apr 18, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Next (4/6)!

I highly recommend following Next Restaurant on facebook as Nick has been really good about updating everyone on the status of tables, etc.

It sounds like they are foregoing 10am and choosing random times now.

I've seen several tables over the past 2 weeks. It was certainly easier to get a table on the first couple of days, though. By that I mean, you saw the tables and as long as you clicked within 3-4 seconds you got one :)

Apr 14, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

One night in Chicago and Alinea is booked

Right; there is stuff to look at, including the beautiful building, just not an outdoor view at some of the tables.

Apr 12, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

One night in Chicago and Alinea is booked

North Pond has a fair number of tables with no real view. It depends on the room/section in which you are seated. Clearly your odds are better than Avenues based on nsxtasy's statements but still maybe worth a special request if you make reservations.

-----
North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Apr 12, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Madison favorites

No. Closed many years back.

Apr 12, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes

Not really a review, but an observation of NEXT

No; it will open to the general public in may.

Apr 12, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Not really a review, but an observation of NEXT

Also... Nick has stated at least twice that legally speaking tickets must be transferable, so they can't actually prevent the transfer, just subsequent ticket purchases.

Apr 11, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Not really a review, but an observation of NEXT

Yes, it's true. They were having issues properly securing transactions in IE and weren't able to fix it in time for the release, as I understand it.

Apr 08, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Next (4/6)!

I was describing the situation for potential other ticket-buyers and those curious, not complaining. This is a new process and a new concept and I'm quite supportive of it no matter the hiccups.

Apr 07, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Next (4/6)!

It's been kind of crazy. Technical problems and other issues yesterday. Emails not getting delivered (not even to spam folders) even when a person is officially "invited". Tickets selling out in under 1 minute. Somehow I still got some tickets, but clearly the process is fairly crazy at the moment. Is this what it is/was like to try to get a reservation at El Bulli?

Apr 07, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Alinea: Best Meal in America? Course-by-Course Breakdown

A lot of people have commented on the formal nature of the service; neither of my two visits led me to this conclusion. I found the servers affable and approachable. Both times, multiple wait staff joked around with us. All in all I found that the service actually helped reduced the formality of the experience so that it was more comfortable. At places like The French Laundry, on the other hand, there was nothing to cut the air there and as such it is a totally different experience. You don't feel like you are experiencing something creative and interactive at TFL... you feel like you are being pampered like a king for a day.

Mar 22, 2011
TAsunder in Chicago Area

Wisconsin Cheese

Rush Creek and Pleasant Ridge are two of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Carr Valley has a nice variety of tasty cheeses, and Bleu Mont has the best cheddar I've had around here. I'm not sure how easy it will be to get your hands on some Rush Creek, as it is a hot commodity these days. The suggestion above to go to Graze is a good one, since they have about 15 of the best cheeses in Wisconsin in their cheese plates.

Jan 05, 2011
TAsunder in Great Lakes