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Anyone know where to find sour orange juice? (Burbs preferred)

Thanks all...I'm not much of a fan of the Goya stuff, I find it pretty bland and processed-tasting. I shall keep looking and report back on any findings.

Aug 15, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Need help finding a chinese restaurant that has your personal chef cooking infrot of you

Yeah, real Chinese cooking is way too high-temp for an audience to be seated nearby. The best I can recommend is Yu's Mandarin in Schaumburg, they have a glass-walled kitchen and all the wok chefs are right in front of it so you can watch them.

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Yu's Mandarin Restaurant
200 E Golf Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173

Aug 15, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Review: Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge (Woodridge)

Hi revdfw,

I haven't tried Sushi Mono; I have heard rather mixed reviews, and I don't get out to Wheaton much. However, since you ask, I will try and get out there and report back.

I did recently try Dao in Burr Ridge, which was okay. We had some very slow service at the start (we waited about 20 minutes before I had to go up to the hostess and ask to see a server), and it was a bit pricey (4 rolls + one drink = $63). The sushi was interesting and generally good (I tried the Spider, Weber, Alaskan, and Rainbow rolls; all but the Alaskan were good, the Alaskan a bit flavorless, the Rainbow unevenly sliced), but they use a lot of similar combinations in their rolls, so there's a limited amount of variety. But I will probably try them again.

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Dao
200 Burr Ridge Pkwy, Burr Ridge, IL 60527

Aug 09, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Owners taking baristas tips: legal in Illinois?

Yours might be an odd case because the owner is also a barista, according to what you're saying here. And typically, baristas split their tips with whomever else they are working. So if that person happens to be the owner, and the two of you are working together...well, that might give her the right. Although it's still a bit questionable, in my opinion.

State tipping laws:
http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

Jul 27, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Recommendation for one fabulous restaurant

Tru

Jul 22, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Homemade Indian food delivery/pick-up options

I've never heard of something like that around here. I believe Chicago health codes require foods to be finished in a commercial kitchen, so unless the people were renting kitchen space somewhere, I'm not sure how they would get away with it.

Jul 21, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Sally's Barbecue

So you resurrected an eight-month-old thread just to tell us you won't share?

Awesome!

Jul 20, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Affordable BRUNCH in Bolingbrook/Naperville/Lombard/Downers Grove

There is a Pappadeaux at Route 83, just north of Ogden. Probably would be more convenient.

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Pappadeauxs
798 W Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Jul 20, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Pei Wei anyone?

There is also one going in in Willowbrook, I believe.

Jul 15, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Anyone know where to find sour orange juice? (Burbs preferred)

Every time I need to make a mojo marinade, it calls for sour orange juice, and I have to make a facsimile of it, since I can never find the "true" ingredients. Anyone know where to get sour orange juice (or sour oranges)?

West burbs locations preferred, if possible.

Jul 15, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Where to find pastry flour in Chicago or western suburbs?

I believe that Fruitful Yield carries Arrowhead Mills pastry flour. There is one near me in Darien, and a bunch of others scattered around the west burbs.

Jul 08, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Best Pizza in Chicago?

Nice post, rubinow. Glad Burt's is still up there, I was just there Thursday. That sausage he gets is ridiculous.

Jul 03, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Portillo's or Poochie's in Skokie

I think Poochie's dog is definitely worth the trek. Portillo's makes a good dog, but Poochie's also does char-dogs, which you can't get at Portillo's. Also, you can get a char cheddar burger at Poochie's, which I unfortunately find myself eating about once a week because it's just that delicious.

However, since you are here one day and you don't have a car, you might find Portillo's just more convenient for your situation. The beef at Portillo's is excellent; I find the dogs to be reliable, but not mind-blowing.

Jun 22, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Pizza place I think I saw on the Food Netowrk....

Delicious. Just don't try and eat a full-pounder.

Jun 12, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Home Run Inn Pizza Review Archer Ave.

I live in Darien, and I was once at a Binny's in Niles/Skokie area, and the cashier was expressing his envy that I got to live near the HRI pizza in Darien. I still have no idea why he would feel that way. I haven't heard of anybody having good pizza there since about 1986.

May 23, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Wine at Binny's: what do you like at $10-15

I would agree. The best Binny's I have been to is the one in Willowbrook on Route 83. It was a DeCarlo's/Armanetti liquor store for decades, and got bought out several years ago. Probably the largest wine selection of any liquor store I have ever been in, and the original staff is still there, so the service is still excellent.

May 23, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Wine at Binny's: what do you like at $10-15

In that price range, I'm drinking Mark West and Mirassou pinots.

May 14, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Breakfast tacos suburbs?

Chicks n' Salsa!

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Chicks'n Salsa
874 Roosevelt Rd, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

May 08, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Rehearsal Dinner Suggestions Near Wyndham Hotel in Lisle

Hey all,

Trying to schedule a rehearsal dinner as close to the Wyndham Hotel in Lisle as possible. We've looked at Maggiano's, but the room size is a bit small. We were hoping for a place that could hold at least 70-80 people. Price is fairly open, as long as we're not in the crazy expensive range.

My parents are sticklers for short drives, so the closer the restaurant is to the hotel, the better. (i.e., downtown Naperville is probably "too far".)

Any suggestions/ideas?

Apr 15, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Review: Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge (Woodridge)

To be honest, the most reliable place I've found in the west suburbs is a chain--Kona Grill in Oak Brook. The sushi is moderately creative, the prices are fair, and the service is excellent. It surprises me that a small chain restaurant could put out quality sushi, but I find myself going there far more than any of the other sushi places in the west suburbs, and I would put their sushi up against a better-than-average place in the city, although certainly not up there with my favorites (Coast, Mirai).

As for the other places in the west suburbs, here's my take on them:
- Yokohama (Westmont): Fairly good overall, very tiny place, with ridiculously large rolls. One piece of a maki roll looks about the size of a hockey puck, and it's incredibly awkward to eat. I've given this place a few tries, but I just end up liking other places better.
- Aodake (Darien): Don't bother. Below average food and atmosphere.
-Tai San Chef (Darien): Excellent Chinese and Thai food--still my #1 place for takeout--but the sushi is strictly average.
- Ra (Lombard): A little more hip than the usual places I frequent. Creative sushi, but I found the atmosphere to loud and annoying, and to be honest, the sushi just didn't impress me in either flavor or variety.
- Bistro Nami (Clarendon Hills): This is my second runner-up in the suburban sushi category. Very creative work, a little pricier than average, but very nice ambiance and friendly owners. Never terribly crowded when I have been in there, so I worry that they won't be around long. I go there every couple months or so.
- Sushi House (Westmont): Pretty much average across the board. Nothing exciting happening here. I had a better experience at Sushi House in Naperville, so perhaps I need to give them another try, or it's a location-specific issue.

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Mirai
2020 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622

Bistro Nami
439 Ogden Ave, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514

Apr 04, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Review: Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge (Woodridge)

Sadly, I decided to try this place for a mini-celebration last night. In general, it was a horrible disappointment.

Decor: 3/5. The place looks uber-chic, with lots of blues and reds, dim lighting, and generally going for a city hipster look more than anything else. Lots of tables, which may explain why the rest of the experience turned out so lousy. The decor is a bit odd considering it's in a strip mall next to one of those "Tilted Kilt" pseudo-Hooters bars.

Service: 1/5. This is pretty much what ruined it for the entire evening. We were seated at 7:15, and had to wait about ten minutes for our waitress to take a drink order. Once that was done, we received our drinks, but she immediately left without asking for our food order. About 5-10 minutes later, she came back for the food order. We ordered no appetizers, just four of the house special maki rolls. After placing our order, she then told us the sushi bar was "backed up," and it would be about 20 minutes. I thought it was odd that they wouldn't tell us that up front, so we could have ordered an appetizer or put in a food order immediately. And then, we waited...and waited...and waited. The tables around us all waited with us. A collective spirit of dismay and hunger settled over the crowd. On the far side of the room, I could see one table get served multiple times. But the four or five tables in my vicinity...nothing. After 45 minutes, the server came by to say it was "almost ready." At 55 minutes, the tables in our section all got bowls of edamame to tide us over, which was particularly annoying to me because I really don't like edamame. I'm not sure what could happen at a sushi restaurant with six sushi chefs to create a wait like that, but it was ridiculous. At no time did the manager or anybody say a thing; instead, we got a sad look from our mostly-absentee waitress every 20 minutes or so. After 1 hour, 15 minutes, the table next to us began to leave, and we prepared to do the same, and were then told the food was ready.

Food: 3/5. First off, the sushi menu is overwhelmingly large, rather awkwardly so. A lot of choices can be a good thing, but so many of their rolls use similar ingredients (the vast majority invove spicy tuna or spicy mayo, so trying to find varied tastes is a bit difficult). The sushi itself was interesting, but the "special rolls" were rather expensive, with many in the $12-$17 range. We had the following rolls:
- Candy Striper (shrimp tempura, grilled pineapple, cucumber, avocado & spicy mayo wrapped with yellow fin tuna & super white tuna)
- Smoky Bear (kabocha tempura, cream cheese, cucumber & avocado wrapped with smoked salmon drizzled with unagi sauce)
- Tuna Jackpot (fresh cuts of yellow fin tuna, super white tuna, cucumber & asparagus topped with red tobiko)
- Crunch Punch (spicy tuna, yuzu seasoned crab meat, cream cheese, cucumber & avocado rolled in tempura crunch drizzled with unagi sauce)

The Tuna Jackpot was pretty flavorless, but the other three rolls were generally good. Of course, there was not a single concession on our bill for the ridiculous wait we experienced, so I guess they felt the 50 cents worth of edamame they gave us made everything even. The bill for the four rolls plus three drinks was $70. I can say that the wine and beer prices seemed fair.

Unfortunately, in the end, first impressions mean a lot, and because of this experience, I probably won't return.

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Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge
6320 Route 53 Suite 100, Woodridge, IL 60517

Apr 02, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Review: Venus Szechuan & Mandarin in Park Ridge

My girlfriend and I ate at Venus yesterday during a lunch outing to Park Ridge. Went there on a whim after strolling through the town.

Decor: 4/5
The interior is fairly nice, with that more modern Chinese-restaurant interior that you find at many places. Black carpets, dark booths, white tablecloths, and white walls with gold trim around the edges and columns. The place seemed clean, and had a small but well-stocked bar upon entrance. However, there were only two barstools, so it seems more like a service bar for the restaurant. I didn't count the tables, but I would guess that there were about eight booths and maybe ten tables.

Food: 3/5
While we only tried a small amount of the food, it seemed average overall. Our server gave us a lunch menu, which was more limited than the dinner menu, and all the standard items are there. Egg Fu Yong, Fried Rice Dishes, a variety of stir fry options, soups. etc. We ordered a crab rangoon, hot and sour soup, sesame crispy beef, and a sweet & sour chicken. The rangoon filling was very good, tangy and homemade, but the wontons were a bit heavy with oil. The soup also had a very oily texture to it, and came with an odd skin of white pepper over about 1/4 of the surface, as if they had thrown the pepper on top, but not stirred it in. Overall, the soup was passable, but nothing exciting. The crispy beef had a good flavor, but much more liquid to it than I usually find in that dish (and less rice noodles, oddly enough), and the texture was a bit off as a result. The sweet & sour chicken had good flavor, but again, the sauce and chicken were a bit oily. The waiter also brought some complimentary slices of melon (honeydew, I think), which was a nice touch, but unfortunately, the melon had very little flavor. The total for lunch, with tip, was about $28.

Service: 3/5
Our experience with the staff was generally good, although a bit odd in some respects. We ate around 1:30, so there were maybe two other lunch tables in the restaurant. We saw three staff members during our time: one gentleman busing tables, another who was our waiter, and a woman who may have been the manager. We weren't sure, because during the entire 40 minutes were were there, she was engaged in a long telephone conversation at a table in the back. I'm not sure if it was business, personal, or what, but it was very loud and distracting, considering there were only about five diners in the restaurant.

Our waiter is the one who sat us, and after filling our water glasses, he disappeared for quite some time. Upon coming back, he never asked if we wanted a drink of any sort; in fact, he never asked us at all, which was also a bit odd. He was generally polite, and fairly attentive after we had put our order in, although he and the woman on the phone spent most of their time in the back of the restaurant trimming a massive pile of peapods that were laid out on their table. They both yelled "Thank you" to us as we were walking out the front door.

Overall: 3/5
In general, I found Venus to be a very average restaurant. For take-out, it would probably be a reliable option, but there is nothing terribly remarkable about the food, service, or experience. I would return, but probably not before I had tried out other options in the area.

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Venus Szechuan & Mandarin Restaurant
18 S Northwest Hwy Ste 100, Park Ridge, IL 60068

Mar 31, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Healthy/decently fast lunch in Evanston?

And to follow up, I ate at Rollin' 2 Go today, and that was pretty darned delicious. About $7.50 got me a "Carmela" turkey sandwich with remoulade sauce, bacon, and avocado. Very good sandwich, and the variety of breads is a nice touch. The homemade chips were delicious, but they do pack a bit of a kick! I will definitely be returning, especially because the sandwiches are large enough that I can split one into lunches for two days.

Thanks again for the recommendations--I look forward to trying the others!

Mar 18, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Healthy/decently fast lunch in Evanston?

I tried Simple Gourmet last week, it was not bad at all. I had a salmon burger (served without a bun, which I thought was odd) that was excellent, and a decent but not remarkable potato salad. Cost of the meal with a can of soda was about $12, a little higher than I would have preferred, but still good food that didn't make me feel weighed down afterwards. Due to the cost, I may not be there every week, but I will definitely return!

Mar 18, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

What are Chicago's "heart attack" meals?

I am ready for this.

Mar 18, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

What are Chicago's "heart attack" meals?

While eating lunch today at Poochie's on Dempster (a char-grilled cheddar burger that is absolutely the most delicious thing on earth), my lunch companion and I started discussing the notion of "heart attack meals." You know, those incredibly unique and unhealthy specialties that you constantly find at roadhouses and family restaurants.

What would you say are some "heart attack specialties" in the Chicago area? That is, unique meals/presentations that go far beyond the usual unhealthiness of Chicago beef and dogs and whatnot.

Right now, the only thing coming to my mind is the Slayer burger at Kuma's. Any suggestions?

Mar 17, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Healthy/decently fast lunch in Evanston?

Anyone have suggestions for lunch places in Evanston? I'm up there quite a bit, and I'm looking for healthier options, and particularly take-out. (I generally don't get enough time for a relaxed sit-down lunch.)

I'm usually working west of the downtown area, so places along Dempster are also good. But most of what I see along that area are fast food places and hot dog joints. (I have nothing against hot dogs, I just don't really need to eat them every day...)

Mar 09, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Decent, mid-priced American fare in Schaumburg?

Hey all,

I have to have a casual business meetup in Schaumburg, and I'm trying to find a fairly decent restaurant in the area that has the most agreeable menu for a group of people. American fare, entrees in the $10-$20 range, something like that. Anything come to mind, or am I stuck with the chains?

I got one suggestion of Ram, but I remember that being a bit more of a meat market than I would like around dinnertime on a Monday. If my memory is incorrect, feel free to let me know.

Mar 07, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

Chicago Food Trip-Do I Have It Right?

Nxtasy, I have to seriously disagree about Burt's, for a number of reasons:
- First, I'm not sure what you're referring to regarding bringing your own beers; they have a fairly nice selection of beers available, including Steigl on tap and Great Lakes Brewing Company in bottles, which I get every time I am there.
- Second, the surroundings are hardly dingy. It's a dark restaurant, sure, but so are half the steakhouses I eat at. It's an old building, and Burt has a large collection of stuff filling the restaurant, but personally, I love looking at the weird collection of ham radios. (and that odd display of barbecue sauce...not sure where that cross-promotion came from...)
- Third, the staff is perfectly nice. People like to slam Burt's when they get turned away for not pre-ordering, or because they don't take credit cards, and they call that being "rude." Last time I was there, I was waiting a while for a friend to join me, and Sharon (co-owner) took some of her free time to talk with me about the restaurant and to repeatedly thank me for my business. I think Burt & Sharon are entirely pleasant people, they just have a specific way they like the restaurant to operate, and I don't think their way is unreasonable for such a small place. Most people know to call ahead and book a slot in the oven, it's really not that big a deal. Plus, an added benefit to me is that most people get the pizza as take-out, so the restaurant is never enormously loud or crowded, unlike the larger deep-dish pizza joints.
- Finally, I can't believe you would put Malnati's or Uno's over Burt's. Burt's is buying fresh market ingredients every morning, while those other places are cranking out pizzas factory-style. I don't think there's any comparison in terms of taste or quality. Sometimes I swear that Burt puts heroin in his sauce, it's that good. And then there's the carmelized crust...

The only pizza that I think even comes close to Burt's is Pequod's, and as we all know, Pequod's pizza is the recipe that Burt used when he founded the place. I'll agree with you that the location isn't as convenient as the other places you mention, but I'll happily do a 40 mile drive to Burt's over the Malnati's that is 15 minutes from my house.

Insideman, stick with Anthony Bourdain on this one, and go with Burt's.

Mar 07, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area

My fiancee has never had a burrito...

Gordeaux,
Thanks so much for the detailed reply. Even if she doesn't go for any of those places, I definitely will! The char-grilled skirt steak is something I can get behind, and I haven't tried either of those taquerias. Like you, I've never been a fan of the late-night style "El Famous"-style places. (Although I have to admit, I still find Chipotle quite tasty on occasion...but you're right, it is salty.)

I'm also a white meat chicken devotee...I'm not sure if I would say dark meat is "bad," but I always found it to have an odd, more greasy texture than white meat. Just personal preference on that one.

Mar 07, 2010
bourj in Chicago Area