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Eating alone in Grant Park

Seconding ferret! The Gage and Henri are definitely the way to go - The Gage tends to be pretty loud, so I gravitate towards Henri. The bartenders there are very friendly if you want to sit at the bar - plus they have a great cocktail list.

Dec 09, 2013
chris in Chicago Area

Best sazerac?

I know a fellow whose go to drink is the sazerac and he claims Sable is pretty much the gold standard.

Sable
505 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60654

Sep 18, 2013
chris in Chicago Area

Michael at Winnetka

Alright, I need to throw my two cents in about this bully.

We ate there in May - the exact same thing happened....I don't know if he was swearing at the staff (my Spanish isn't so hot), but his volume, tone, and behavior was baffling.

I witnessed, I kid you not, him walk directly in front of a food runner, just to block his way. He saw him coming, stood to get in his way, didn't say anything, just blocked his way to make the guy walk AROUND him - food in hand - when the guy passed him, the manager turned around and scowled at the guy. Lots of yelling - in Spanish - in the dining room, at times within inches of me. The whole night. We were there three hours. IN THE DINING ROOM.

The food was great, but he created the most hostile environment I have ever seen.

Aug 22, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Trip report - long

To expand slightly....

The first bartender asked what we like and what we don't, went no further, didn't ask any followups (seemed annoyed at our presence)....I said I like bourbon and my wife said she likes reposado tequilas. Our first drinks were, I kid you not, a bourbon old fashioned and a tequila old fashioned. Sugar, bitters, spirit. At least they didn't top them off with Sprite I guess?

All that said, it was around 4:30 on a Sunday and we had to wait close to have an hour for a seat.

Aug 22, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Trip report - long

Good call - I should have mentioned it was a special. Not listed on a menu, but they had a sign posted outside - it was an afternoon deal, 2 to 5 pm or 3 to 6, maybe - post lunch/pre dinner thing.

Aug 22, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Trip report - long

Yeah - in Chicago we have Pizzeria Uno which is not to be confused with the chain Uno Chicago Grill, even though it's "the same."

I definitely enjoyed myself, ate too much, and look forward to returning!

Aug 21, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Trip report - long

Hello all - I thought I'd report back on my trip. I'm going to be extremely brief with all of this...it's long as is and barely coherent. . If you care about details, feel free to ask followups and I'll check back.

Toro. Two dishes - uni bocadillo (rich, funky, delicious) and buffalo heart (a fairly light dish, quite good). Service was fine, I sat at the bar right by the entrance, it was packed on a Thursday night. Depends on how you eat, but obviously, tapas style is best enjoyed with a large group.

L'Espalier (lounge). Three course lounge menu - $20. Each course could be eaten in one bite, so don't go in expecting dinner. Flat out unacceptable issues with attitude, pacing, and one dish (escargot) had clearly been sitting under a heat lamp for an excessive amount of time. The biggest course - duo of lamb, one sausage, one loin (I think), with fig, fennel, and pearl onion - was delicious and bold. I still left irritated.

No. 9 Park. The highlight of the trip. Phenomenal service at the bar, great drinks, fun staff. I went with three appetizers - foie gras with fried green tomatoes, pork jowels with watermelon, and chilled Spanish octopus. If it had not been Restaurant Week in the coming days (they were booked), I would have returned in a heartbeat.

Bin 26. My legs were aching and it was the first place to catch my eye. Great wine list (I like that you can get pours in 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml), $1 oysters, and very nice saffron risotto balls - cheesy filling, mild lemon notes, quite good.

Craigie on Main. At about 5:25 I walked by (they open at 5:30) and there was a line of maybe 20 people - all for the bar, and based on what I was hearing from the kitchen, all ordered the burger. I didn't do a tasting menu (still full from the previous evening) and should have. Delicious. Pig tail (pain in the neck to eat), vichyssoise (tasty but with sweetbreads that were sitting in the soup and had lost their crispness - still good), swordfish (not my sorta entree, but I wanted to go light, this fit the bill - quite good), and sorbet.

Toscanini's - Burnt caramel ice cream. Delicious. I'm not a dessert guy, but I really enjoyed it.

Clio (bar). Outstanding drinks and food, the bartenders were absolutely slammed yet remained friendly and professional. That said, the level of work put into the drinks is baffling. The Esteban requires a cut up lime and jalapeno to be blowtorched, then muddled, then mixed with whatever the concoction was (mezcal and soda?), then put into a glass with ice made with various juices and liqueurs. The drink started incredibly spicy, but as the ice cubes melted it all mellowed - a brilliant kind of drink where each sip tastes different than the next. Tofu bahn mi and pork steam buns may have been the best food I had in Boston - huge, bold, delicious.

Regina's at Quincy Market. Many people get very passionate about pizza, so I am hesitant to say much beyond I threw half of my piece away. That said, LOTS of people seemed to be quite happy eating theirs. Quincy Market is kind of a nightmare for those, like me, who do not like crowds.

Island Creek Oyster Bar - Incredible oysters. Great drinks and service, I like that they offer "mocktails" if you want something a bit interesting without the booze. Lobster Roe Noodles were overwhelmed by the short ribs which isn't necessarily bad, as much as if if you served it next to $15 "short rib noodles" and eaten blindfolded, you probably wouldn't notice. That said, absolutely delicious - rich, buttery, great stuff. Catfish special of the day was interesting - sauteed, about 3/4 of it was light, almost like tilapia, and then 1/4 was definitely that weird funky catfish that would be better deep fried - still awesome.

The Hawthorne. I would need to go back to assess. I enjoyed my drink. There was some hard to describe weirdness not worth getting into.

East Coast Grill - I think this place can best be summed up by the "banana relleno." A banana, stuffed with absurdly spicy pork shoulder, then baked? You have sweet, you have savory, you have heat - it all comes together, it's a little odd, but it's indisputable. Big fan. Pork carnitas enchiladas and shrimp & grits entrees were excellent. The bloody mary bar looked like a giant pain in the neck honestly. I didn't make it to Cambridge Brewing Company, but they had a Pillsner on tap that was pretty good.

Drink. The thing about Drink is your time there depends 100% on your bartender's mood which is why it was a letdown. We had two. Our first was terrible - had we not been assigned a second bartender, I would have left. Our second bartender was unfriendly, but was at least willing to spend a minute (or 20 seconds) to make sure we had interesting drinks. We had steak tartare and fries as well - both amazing....great food from Lynch. Still though - it needs to be said - service issues here are a WAY more important problem than your typical place since there's no drink list. I would have loved to have been able to point to a drink on a list and avoid the awkward, borderline snotty, "conversation." Bottom line - I had the opportunity to go back the next day, I chose not to.

Erbaluce. The portions were generous. One dish came out cold (kudos to them for not using heat lamps?), everything else was fine. The highlight was a tomato salad. I totally see what they are doing - focus on delicious, in season, high quality ingredients, but the whole place seemed odd. The next day we were discussing dinner and I literally could not remember what I ate for my entree (not alcohol induced - honest). It was lamb. It was okay.

Union Oyster House. We had a half dozen oysters and the Sam Adams Colonial Ale, so I can't really comment on the food, beyond that both items were good and I left content.

Neptune - There was a line down the street when we arrived at 11:28. Everyone was seated, but by noon people another line had formed. You get a paper with the oysters of the day and brief descriptions - so you can gauge what you like or get a nice variety easily. Solid wine and beer list. Hamachi ceviche was ridiculously good, buttery, wonderful fish. Neptunes on Piggyback was incredible - variety of flavors, textures, temperature, just amazing. Hot Lobster Roll - a TON of lobster. Delicious.

Legal (Harborside). The bartender at No 9 strongly suggested I make it over here at an off hour, sit on the rooftop, and have a glass of wine. He was correct. Great wine list, reasonably priced, plus interesting Champagne options available by the glass. If it's a nice day and you are into wine, I'd strongly recommend this place. We had a tuna based sushi roll (great fish, covered in sickeningly sweet sauce) and edamame (which was edamame - fine).

Pigalle. Restaurant Week, they were slammed, they were beyond slammed, our waiter was having a rough night, a good number of people around us were either getting mad or already had steam coming out of their ears by the time we were seated because of how slow service was. Everyone working was clearly in the weeds. And then the food came... and everything was right with the world. Simply put - old school French food, no unnecessary frills, no goofiness, just great, classic food, a fair wine list (a bottle of French sparkling for $37), and delicious cocktails, among the best of the trip.

Boston Beer Works (airport). It's a bar in the airport. The food was about what you'd expect (honestly, slightly better than I expected) and the house beers were all decent. I would not want to take a growler home, but I was quite content having a pint waiting for my flight. We have a place in the midwest called Ram that this kind of reminded me of - decent food and beer, but just that. Great service though!

There you go! I'll get photos up at some point.

Aug 21, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Thanks! I'm very excited to check out the town! I have to admit, I feel that I MUST try the chowder at Neptune. It seems incredibly polarizing, so I have to try it.

Aug 07, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Alright - a lot to take in - thanks to everyone.

I've done some modifications to my itinerary......skipping the side trip to Salem and Marblehead looks like a great spot, but I'll leave that for next time.

Thursday
Dinner and drinks Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne.

Friday
Lunch at Coppa. I'll then make my way to Cambridge on food through Beacon Hill.
Cambridge Brewing Co for a beer.
Dinner at Craigie and ice cream at Tosci.

Saturday
Freedom Trail in the morning (doing a tour)
Stop at Mike and Patty's on the way back for brunch (solo)
Probably going to check out the Museum of Fine Art
Dinner is somewhat up in the air due to logistics, but I have had some good advice and will not be doing Legal.

Sunday
Brunch at East Coast Grill
Drinks at Drink and dinner at Erbaluce

Monday
Lunch at Neptune
Dinner at Toro

Tuesday
Breakfast at Flour

Aug 07, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

It's booked. I've done RW in Chicago and it's pretty much 50/30/20 for being "great," "okay," and "offensive."

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Your post (and the loads of replies) helped significantly in my planning....Erbaluce is going to be part of Restaurant Week and the menu looked good....that said, RW in general is iffy, but at least I know exactly what it's going to cost and I'm willing to gamble it.

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

I kind of had a feeling about that, so the plan is to arrive at Drink AT 4 pm, when they open....so I'm hoping to avoid much of that.

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

The Hawthorne looks totally my style and next to ICOB will be a great one two punch. Thanks!

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Indeed I have - lots of great advice on that thread and the (in progress) followup report is helpful as well.

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Thanks for the advice! I think it's all coming together.

Brasserie Jo looks like a good option if I can drag her out (right around the corner, shouldn't be hard) and if not, Chili Duck looks good for take out. Legal definitely wasn't an ideal choice and I'm glad you gave me strong alternatives.

I've decided to skip L'Espalier. I'm sure it's lovely, but I'm thinking it's a bit overboard. Also probably going to skip Salem - there's plenty to do around town. Friday and Saturday I plan on grazing - popping into a few places and having a small something - Neptune gets enough raves I think they'll get some repeat visits. Coppa's bone marrow pizza looks like a winner and I can hopefully snag just a drink at Blue Inc during their lunch service.

Toro was a place that fell off my radar for some reason and now that I look at it, it's back. Toro will be Tuesday's dinner now.

I've read a lot of praise about No 9 Park, but I now see much of it is dated....I wanted to hit a Lynch place, forgetting Drink is part of the empire. I may just sit tight at ICOB.

Aug 02, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Upcoming trip - loose outline enclosed, advice needed!

Okay Boston Chowhounders - I have come up with a bit of a schedule and am looking for guidance.

Coming from Chicago in two weeks without a car, but I'm not afraid of cabbing, walking, or a bit of public transit. Staying at the Sheraton right by the Prudential Building from Thursday-Sunday and Sunday-Tuesday I'll be in the theater district at the Revere. I'm not a breakfast guy, so I'm cool without.

Thursday -
Arriving late enough that I probably won't be eating lunch (dozen oysters at Island Creek when they open maybe?)

Dinner at No 9 Park. It appears they don't take reservations for the bar, but I'll be alone and arriving by six, so this seems like it would be fine.

-

Friday -
Up in the air - I'll be alone, I am debating going to Salem. If I don't, and there's someplace I'm missing that does weekday lunch, let me know!

Dinner at Craigie on Main
Dessert at Toscanini’s.

-

Saturday -
Another day completely on my own, but I'll definitely be staying in Boston.

I have a lunch reservation at L'Espalier, I'm doubting whether I should do it, it's spendy, especially after Craigie.

Dinner is tricky - my wife will be working all day, is unsure when she's off, and probably won't want to hit the town. The only thing I can think of is Legal is down the block from the hotel and does carry out. This seems like a better idea than room service.

-

Sunday -
Brunch at Mike and Patty's.

Pre-dinner cocktails at Drink

Dinner at Erbaluce.

-

Monday -
Lunch at Neptune.

Stop in at Union Oyster House for a drink perhaps....the idea is to go, but not for a meal.
Dinner at Blue 13 - this place gets mixed reviews, but I'm a sucker for liquid nitrogen. Feel free to
persuade me one way or the other.

-

Tuesday -
Pre-flight lunch at Flour

Aug 01, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Planning a trip - mid August.

Thanks - I guess Top of the Hub is Boston's equivalent of Chicago's Signature Room (top floor of Hancock Building) - good for a drink and the view, but not much else. Thanks for the tips! A bit of research seems to suggest Neptune is worth a stop as well as Craigie on Main.

Jun 22, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Planning a trip - mid August.

Hi all!

I'm visiting Boston from the first time in mid-August and staying near at the Hilton near the convention center for a total of five days (Thursday-Tuesday). I am coming from Chicago. I will have no car, but am fine with cabs, public transit, and wandering around on foot assuming it's reasonably easy to figure out.

I'm basically looking for suggestions from across the board - the sole restriction is relative ease of getting there from the area. Solid ethnic one day, chowder another, multi course fine dining another, a gastropub the next - I'm game for anything, no real budget restrictions assuming there's a variety, and not the five most expensive places in Boston suggested.

Small plates and and interesting cocktails would be welcome as well. Something unique and unavailable in Chicago is preferred (for example, I see no reason to visit a steakhouse unless something is exceptional).

I prefer, but do not require, bar type seating for lunch as I'll be doing most of those alone, but dinners will be with people.

Right now, the only thing I have my eye on is a meal at Top of the Pub and probably a stop at Cheers just to do it.

Thanks!

Jun 21, 2012
chris in Greater Boston Area

Reservations for Schwa?

In November I called Schwa and "luckily' got through right around 3 pm.... I am not only not exaggerating, I am probably understating exactly how the conversation went:

Them: Schwa.

Me: Hello! I'd like to make a reservation for four, I have a few dates in December that are idea, but I'm flexible and can go January or sooner if you have it."

Them: December? Oh man, sorry man, sorry man, oh man, yeah man, you know, December, we're like closed, sorry man, we're gonna be closed, yep, no luck, sorry man, sorry man.....SSSSSOOOORRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" <Click>

Me: Hello?

Dial tone.

--

Truly baffling.

Apr 17, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Good eats in Schaumberg?

For Mexican, I am a big fan of Mago - not in Schaumburg, but a quick drive away in Arlington Heights. http://www.magodining.com/

If you want something that is distinctively Chicago, I'd go to Johnnie's Beef....get yourself a beef and a watermelon ice.

Johnnie's
1935 S Arlington Heights Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Apr 15, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Anything good in Palatine near the metro stop?

I don't think you'll need one, but if you have time constraints, it might be worth giving them a ring. http://www.durtynellies.com/info.asp

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

April Chicago weekend itinerary - need final input (Sable/Frontera Grill/Alinea/North Pond/Lou Malnati's)

If you're looking for the absolute best and are willing to have a late night, by all means, the food at GATG is probably better and if I were going cocktails, I'd go Aviary over anywhere else - they're convenient to each other, so if you're doing one, do both.

But, it sounds like they're not ideal for your schedule. If you want an earlier evening and prefer to stay closer to the hotel, you will have a perfectly lovely time at Sable.

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Length of dinner at Next El Bulli?

Like Gonzo, it took our table of four 5 1/2 hours. This was week three of service I believe.

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

April Chicago weekend itinerary - need final input (Sable/Frontera Grill/Alinea/North Pond/Lou Malnati's)

If you have a Girl and the Goat reservation - which is a tough one to get - you should use it. I went there a few months back expecting it to be overhyped and it certainly was not.

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Anything good in Palatine near the metro stop?

Right across from Palatine is Durty Nellies which has quite a few vegetarian options and one of the best craft beer selections in that part of Chicagoland.

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Dining Alone Recommendations

Sable would certainly work - they have a long bar, great food, and plenty of cocktail options. I had lunch there the other day for their Chef Week and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Mar 29, 2012
chris in Chicago Area

Staying at Lisle / Napperville Hilton Aug 18 - 22

If you like beer, you're not too far from Two Brothers....I like their burgers, other food items have been hit or miss, but the beer is top notch.

http://www.twobrotherstaphouse.com/

Two Brothers Brewing Company
30w315 Calumet Avenue West
Warrenville, IL 60555

Aug 05, 2010
chris in Chicago Area

Avenues or Charlie Trotter?

Well, just in case you don't get any other replies...

Trotter's kitchen table is four or six people only, so you'd have to be in the dining room.

Avenues is a bar set up, so two works nicely. The seats are comfortable and you look directly into a small kitchen. From what I recall one guy normally has his back to you most of the time and then two or three will face you. There's no glass window or anything, so you can chit chat.

I haven't been to either recently, so I can't comment on the current state of things.

Personally, based on the fact that the bar sounds interesting to you and recent reviews, I'd go Avenues. Here's Curtis Duffy's blog: http://www.curtisduffy.com/ Looking at it makes me want to get back there asap.

Jul 29, 2010
chris in Chicago Area

Large portions at Graham Elliot. Do they exist?

Reading chicgail's reply made me realize I didn't answer your question directly.

zorzo51 - Brazillian Steakhouse and Graham Elliot are four words that don't belong on the same bookshelf, let alone sentence. If your idea of a good meal is "A LOT" of food, then you may want to reconsider...

I think the food is good enough that it's worth a visit, so my advice: plan on two dinners, Mr. Beef is right around the corner if need be.

-----
Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

Jul 28, 2010
chris in Chicago Area

Advice - Frontera or Topolobampo?

Last time I was there, I was the only guy not in a jacket....though it was lunch, so I suppose I was around business people. (And our waiter was so snooty I couldn't tell if he was being ironic....but that's another story I'll leave at "how are the flavors mingling in this dining experience?")

Jul 28, 2010
chris in Chicago Area