n

naperwino's Profile

Title Last Reply

Downtown Naperville & Naperville Area Restaurants

No one's mentioned the latest re-incarnation of the Red Door - the Grumpy Bulldog has been open a couple of months now. It carries the best selection of craft beers outside of Chicago, (similar to the Map Room or Hopleaf, if you're familiar with those places.) The food is pretty good too - satisfying pub grub. I'm already addicted to their mac n cheese which is always an option instead of fries with a sandwich. Their BLT with avocado and chipolte mayo is also pretty crave-worthy.

Jul 31, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

dinner in Wheaton

If you're at all into wines, Cellar Bistro, (which is a WINE bar,) has a very disappointing, pedestrian wine selection. (By pedestrian, I mean a pedestrian could walk into the Jewel and find most of their wines.) Their food is fairly decent, however.

For great wine, and food that is just as good, visit Suzette's Creperie around the corner, on Front St. Their wine list is all French, quite extensive, and quite good.

http://www.suzettescreperie.com/

Apr 18, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Breakfast or Brunch West. Burbs

I had an amazing brunch at Honey in downtown Glen Ellyn last Sunday. I had Caprese Eggs Benedict. The hollandaise sauce was boosted with plenty of fresh basil, and the poached eggs rested on tomato slices, fresh mozza, and toasted sun-dried tomato foccacia. So, so, so good! OH - and really great coffee - Metropolis was the brand, I believe. I would just call it delicious. My husband had a tofu scramble, which was pretty tasty too, sauteed with tomatoes and onions, but mine was better, obviously! He had a mimosa with fresh squeezed OJ to wash down his breakfast. We are looking forward to going back again soon.
Here's their website:
http://www.honeycafe.net/

-----
Honey
499 N Main St, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Apr 18, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Avec- Watch your back

I never get sick of Avec. I'm like a kid in a candy store in there, with all the outstanding European boutique wines that pair so well with their always solid and delicious small paltes and unique cheeses, I've never given a second of thought to the seating. As long as I have amazing wine, and some of the best food Chicago has to offer, I am a super happy camper! Going out to a place like Avec is such a wonderful treat for me, I really appreciate and savor the experience every time.

Apr 18, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Need an interesting restaurant in Arlington Hts area for Sat. night

Fuego's great too. It's next to Regina's, and it has some nice upscale Mexican food, (and good standard Tex-Mex) at very reasonable prices. I especially like the variety of moles they offer, and the margaritas are pretty tasty too! It's usually crazy busy on a Sat. night, though, but you should keep it in mind for a future AH outing.

Feb 28, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Amateur Night (long)

We hadn't planned on going out until we realized the cleaning lady was coming that day - so of course you can't cook in a clean kitchen. So, off we went, foolishly thinking we'd just "get in" somewhere. Silly us. Thus our journey of the Naperville area within a 5 mile radius of our home began...

How about our new favorite family-owned Italian joint in the strip mall - Capri? They can ALWAYS fit us in after a short wait. Surely, a weeknight will be no different. Au contraire. It was like a college basement keg party in there. Wall to wall people. I got through one throng of them, but I was still far from the host stand, and couldn't spot the actual host anywhere, so dejectedly, we continued on.

Plans B & C were nearby Indian and Thai/Vietnamese places. Those places are always half-dead. Surely, one of them will have a spot for us, our naivete having not worn off yet. Indian Garden had about 25 people milling about in the doorway, and all tables were full. No need to get out of car. On to Boraans.

Looking back now, the site at Boraans was quite humorous. At 7:50p, not so much. I thought Gordan Ramsay would show up any second to start filming the next episode of "Kitchen Nightmares". We stood in the doorway, behind one other couple for 10 min. Almost every patron there had a distressed look on their face saying "Where's my food/waitress/bill/takeout order?!!" Upon overhearing a woman at a table inquire if her food was even cooking yet after ordering it 45 min. prior, and the waitress telling her no, it hadn't, and the woman angrily storming out, we followed right behind.

So, at this point, it's 8pm, and we're pretty grumpy/hungry. Husband suggests Go Roma, a decent local chain with pizza/pasta and beer/wine, but set up like a Panera. Now, I know I can't be picky at this point, but I at least want to go somewhere where someone waits on me. I suggest one of the 'cheesy chains near Cantera' [the movie theater]. Yes, it had gotten that desperate. We venture into Stir Crazy. With only a 15 min. wait, we were sold. They have the mongolian bbq-type set up, but thankfully, menu items, so I'm not required to schlepp food all around the restaurant. The food was edible, although over-salted and underspiced, and the wine was drinkable. Husband made me swear I would never ask to come back.

Of course, we enjoyed re-hashing it all and making jokes about it, so it will certainly be memorable.

The moral of the story is when it comes to Valentines Day- make reservations way in advance, cook at home or order pizza.

Feb 15, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Reccomendations Needed

Ugh! Listening to the Wine Dictator is about the same is seeking out places with Parker Wines, as they tend to have similar tastes.

If wine is a priority (of which it always is for me), I'd suggest 3 different wine bars that all have great food - in this order, Avec (West Loop), Volo (Roscoe Village) and Bluebird (Bucktown).

Avec's list is divided in French, Spanish and Italian. All the wines are from small, high quality producers, (read: you find them at Binny's or the Jewel.) They have great Mediterranean small plates to accompany their food friendly wines.

Volo has wines from various regions, with their standouts being the Italian wines. I complimented the wine director on them the last time I was there, and he told me that he had previously been a wine director for an upscale Italian restaurant. They specialize in contemporary, seasonal fare, and have lots of tasty small plates to share, or entrees if you're not feeling like sharing.

Bluebird has had a lot of mixed reviews, but we had a wonderful time there. We also went at 5:30p when almost no one was there, and sat at the bar, where we held a lengthy "wine geek" conversation with the bartender. I even tried a couple of Italian varietals I'd never heard of, (which is quite rare for me!) Most of the complaints I've seen have been with the service during busier hours. We also enjoyed some small plates there - mac n cheese with bacon was a standout.

Jan 22, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Everest or Tru

If you were given the above 2 options (only - no other options were presented or are possible) - which one would you choose and why??

Jan 09, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Piece in bucktown - good thin pizza???

Piece is also a microbrewery, so if you like good beer along with good pizza, you should definitely go here.

Jan 04, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Have you been to Mitsuwa Marketplace?

That's funny! I didn't even look at the dates! I've worked up here for four of those years, so I can stand by my comments at least that long! ;)

Jan 04, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Have you been to Mitsuwa Marketplace?

I work about a mile from here, and have had many a delicious lunch at Mitsuwa. I've yet to try the hot dishes because I can't get over how great of a deal the sushi is, (AND great quality). $4.50 for negi hamachi or a rainbow roll?? It's like a dream come true!!!

Jan 03, 2008
naperwino in Chicago Area

Gene & Georgetti Wine List

Having to endure a recent business dinner at Wildfire, this is an upgrade. At there's a few that are drinkable. Wildfire's is atrocious.

Dec 21, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Geneva, IL rests? [moved from Midwest board]

Isabella's and Niche are both top notch. There's a newer place called the Urban Grille, but the food is more casual, (but still good) and their wine program pales in comparison to the excellent choices that Isabella's and Niche offer. I would say that Niche is my favorite, with Isabella's a close second, (food and wine are pretty much equal, with slightly better service at Niche.)
If you're interested in something new, in the next town over, St. Charles, there is a new place called Farenheit that is supposed to have avant garde, upscale cuisine. I haven't been yet, but I hope to go soon!

Nov 27, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Similar places to Hopleaf in Wicker Park?

There's a newer wine bar called Bluebird on Damen that has a great beer list, as well. They've also got one of the best wine lists I've seen in a long time. I think the food's great too. I've heard a lot of complaints from others about service, but we went in the early evening before it was too crowded, so our service was very good.

Nov 08, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Wheaton Restaurant (new) in a Bank

My first piece of advice would be to make reservations. We went a couple of weekends ago, and they said "45 min." After an hour and a half at the bar, we inquired about an empty 4 top at the end of the bar, and found out the bar tables were all first come first served. An hour later, (2.5 hrs. following arrival), the hostess was seeking us out.

The menu has various apps, sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Some of them were the creative types of dishes I associate with Cassata's cuisine. Others, sadly, seemed to be dumbed down for the suburbs, since apparently we're all TGI McFunsters regulars in the 'burbs. Wheaton's smoke-free, so that's a plus. Our food was ok - I had a chili crusted tilapia (a bit overdone, but good flavor) with roasted acorn squash, and my husband had lamb that was so rare in the middle it was cold. It tasted fine, though, but still a bit disconcerting.
I don't feel the need to get back to this place for quite a while.

Nov 01, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Two chefs visiting from sf

You should definitely hit Hot Doug's - it's one of our culinary gems. Also - I'd hit Hopleaf in Andersonville - the best beer list with the best pub grub, (moules et frites!) Andersonville's a cool neighborhood to check out, as well.

Oct 09, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

bar dining downtown

Rhapsody and Atwood Cafe are nice, too.

Sep 28, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Challenge for all Chitown Hounds

I really enjoyed Bluebird. It's best to go when they're not real busy, (5:30 to 6) if you can. I really enjoyed the food, but the wine is the standout here. The bartender was total wine geek like my husband and I, so we had great discussions with him as we poured over the wine list. I tried two red Italian varietals that I had never heard of before, (and that's a feat for me!) We were in love with the place from the moment we saw one of our favorite Northern Michigan sparklers by the glass - L. Mawby Cremant - on the menu.

Another wine bar with great small plates is Volo, which doesn't get much mention on this board. They also have some fantastic wine values.

A couple of other more "mid-range" places with great food - Meritage and West Town Tavern.

Real foodies should appreciate the authenticity of any of these places - none of them are overdecorated tributes to pretension - they're just about good food.

Sep 28, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Favorite local joint in Chi-town?

I second this suggestion! West Town Tavern has something for everyone at reasonable prices, not to mention a unique wine list, also at great prices.

Sep 26, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Looking for great cake near Naperville for Saturday

I concur - Cakes Plus is quite good! I bought one there last year for a baby shower I hosted, and it turned out really nice. They even came up with the design for me, since had no idea what should be on a baby shower cake. They have a website, too.
http://www.cakesplususa.com/

Sep 18, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Downtown Naperville & Naperville Area Restaurants

I concur with most of this, too - except I'm with markh on Rosebud. It's like the Olive Garden with larger portions, (like anyone needs that!)

Other than the African place that SirEats mentioned, La Sorella manages to stay pretty consistent with well prepared dishes with fresh ingredients, and an acceptable wine list, even if it is a part of a small local chain.

Another great independent lost - Arbor Vitae! I miss the Wild Ass coffee!!

Sep 13, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Chicago: Sunday dinner recs

I second this rec whole-heartedly, and could not have said it better myself! Volo is fantastic.

Sep 09, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Downtown Naperville & Naperville Area Restaurants

Sullivan's is a large chain with mostly horrible, pedestrian wines. After eating at one in Houston, I avoid it like a breakfast joint after church lets out.

Sep 09, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Downtown Naperville & Naperville Area Restaurants

Tessa's is decent. It's modeled after Maggiano's, (who's gluttony/family-style concept I hate,) but you don't have to eat family style there. They have some tasty pasta dishes, and the "half order" size turns out to be about 3 servings for me, and about just right for my husband. Their wine list has some gems, too.

Sep 09, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Volo in Roscoe Village

I was there recently, too, and also had a great experience. I find it surprising I don't see it mentioned much on these boards. We were able to eat on the patio, which was a nice, quiet oasis from the city streets. Besides the delicious tapas we ordered, they also send out warm olive oil with happy little garlic cloves swimming around in it, and some hot, crusty bread to soak it all in.

We kept it simple with the large cheese plate, (included manchego, humboldt fog - always a crowd favorite, and an aged gouda); a proscuitto/arugula "rocket", sweet pea, parmesean and ciopollini onion flatbread, and the requisite summer dish of heirloom tomatoes, basil, mozz, etc.
I'm perhaps overly critical of restaurants' wine lists, but Volo's passed the test. We washed down our food with a fresh, light Cotes Du Rhone, made with a 100% grenache grapes. At under $40/bottle, it was a steal.

On a previous visit, we sat at the bar, and spoke with the wine director whose past stint was a wine buyer for an Italian restaurant, so there are also some unique Italian offerings there that you won't find at other places. His wine knowledge was impressive, which should be expected, but with wine's popularity skyrocketing, that doesn't seem to be the case in as many fine dining establishments as one would hope, (even so-called wine bars can let me down with uninformed staff).

Sep 06, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

One day in Traverse City...Leelanau County....

Trattoria Stella is the one "can't miss" place in Traverse City. It's situated in the old state mental hospital, but don't let that sway you, (uh, one way or the other). The food is top notch, and you can save some money by sharing a couple of appetizers. (They make a phenomenal pate with lots of yummy accoutrements.) The wine list is excellent, as well - lots of high quality Italian wines, with some of the high quality local wines sprinkled in.
http://www.stellatc.com/

Sep 04, 2007
naperwino in General Midwest Archive

Dinner for Husband's 30th b-day

Most of the food I had was quite good there, but serioiusly, there was creme fraiche in the gazpacho. Why weigh down the bright, fresh taste of summer?? And, sure, it did look more "modern" in the basement, but I'm not sure "glitz" is how I would describe a basement...
An admirable defense of your favorite place, though, certainly! I'm still not going back. Have you been to Vie yet? I had the best lamb of my life there last weekend, and I don't even like red meat, (usually, except for the rare instances it's in the hands of a chef I trust - even then, almost never beef.)

Aug 31, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Onion Rings in Grand Rapids MI (A Lengthy Lament)

Ok, I haven't in GR for 7 years, but I know that Z's Bar is still downtown, and while I haven't had their onion rings, I can vouch for their jalapeno poppers as being the best ever. My point being, they know their way around a fryer and their ribs have been winning awards for years, so it only seem natural that they'd have a good handle on onion rings, no??
On a side junk food note, I miss Yesterdogs!!! I'll trade you a Portillo's Chicago dog for one!

Aug 31, 2007
naperwino in General Midwest Archive

Dinner for Husband's 30th b-day

You're husband's turning 30, not 60, so I'd scratch Tallgrass off your list in a hurry. We found the atmosphere very old school, and food heavy and laden with a lot of cream and butter, (and that was in JULY).

What I think is a much better 'burb selection is Vie in Western Springs. My husband and I are addicted to that place lately. The food is fresh, local, seasonal, and always prepared creatively and more importantly, deliciously. The service is attentive, and very knowledge about all the unique food and wine they have to offer. The layout and design are sleek and modern. Food & Wine magazine recently named the chef/owner, Paul Virant, one of its Best New Chefs for 2007. It's steps away from the Metra station, so no need to drive either!
vierestaurant.com

Aug 31, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area

Best Foie Gras?

I've always had fantastic preparations of foie gras at Vie in Western Springs. Here's their current rendition off their site (vierestaurant.com):

seared hudson valley foie gras, sweet corn cake, klug farm blackberries, sicilian pistachios and preserved meyer lemons

AND you can take the train there!

Aug 10, 2007
naperwino in Chicago Area