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Best tasting menu + wine pairing for $130-150?

I'm looking for the best meal (tasting menu + wine pairing) I can find in town for $130-150 per person. Any thoughts? Also, business casual is preferable! Thanks!

May 21, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Help! Arun's?

Alright, I have researched this to death and the consensus seems to be that Arun's is nothing special at all (and I have to cancel my reservation tomorrow if I decide against it!).

Now then, I'm trying to figure out what that means exactly...

I'm hoping that Arun's is NOT traditional Thai. What I want Arun's to be is Thai fusion. Is that what it is? And, if it is, is it good? Are the flavors interesting? Is it a fun place to eat? This is for my birthday and I just wanted to try something a little different from the norm.

In an ideal world, I'd go to Alinea or Moto for something fun and crazy, but we can't drop 600 bucks (for 2) right now. Instead, I am opting for two nice meals this weekend for a total of 400-500. I was thinking Arun's would be the adventure and Perennial sounds really good and the restaurant, itself, looks really cozy.

However, if Arun's is bland and uninteresting, I do not want to go there. I would love to leave the restaurant wondering what I just ate (in a good way) this possible or is it just not good anymore?

I have always thought the Beard nominee list is a good way to try restaurants, and it really hasn't let me down for the most part. Arun was nominated this year...but I do realize his nomination may be the result of some active campaigning on his part.

If there is anyone who likes Arun's, and has been there recently, speak up.

If not, does anyone have any recs for another "fun" restaurant, with a tasting menu, I could go to?

Thank you so much!

May 21, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Tourists Seeking Unusual Chicago Food Spots

I second Publican. Really delicious and great beer (if a bit pricey).

Also, don't forget to try Italian beef. These sandwiches shouldn't be overlooked! Try Al's Italian Beef. I would not have the sandwich "dipped" unless you want your sandwich to fall apart :).

Hot Doug's is fantastic, but kind of a pain to get to from downtown and there is ALWAYS a line. If you decide to go to a Cubs game or something, you can always go to Wiener Circle which is pretty close by and tasty.

May 21, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Paris in August

I'm planning to take a week long trip to Paris this August and I need some tips for good restaurants that will be open!

I will probably only be able to afford one very expensive meal (suggestions welcome for my splurge meal!), so I am looking more for dinners that cost around 50-70 euro for two and lunches that are cheap (but tasty). I'd also like to stick to French food. I figure I'll be in France, so French is the way to go :).

I would definitely be interested in finding a good Alsatian restaurant as well.

FYI, I am adventurous when it comes to food, so I'm open to anything.

Merci beaucoups!

Mar 16, 2009
tripc in France

Spring, Graham Elliot, or Aigre Doux

Thanks for the heads up on Custom House and Green Zebra. But I've actually been to both, so if I'm not headed to Spring (my favorite of those three), then I'll probably try something new.

So Aigre Doux has tasty lamb. I do love lamb! But if Graham Elliot is really in the same price range (or lower) than the other two, then that would be great, too--I never had a chance to go to Avenues while he was there. Decisions, decisions.

Thanks again!

Feb 10, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Girls weekend-need help planning

Well, since it sounds like it's a bit of a bachelorette party-type weekend, it might be fun to go to Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club at 3700 N Halsted St Chicago, IL . I would say it is definitely off the beaten path. It's north of Lincoln Park, but it's not too crazy of a cab ride away--maybe 7-10 dollars?

The food is actually pretty good (I had a pumpkin seed crusted grouper in some kind of cream sauce which was pretty tasty--it's obviously not of the quality of the places mentioned above, but it was very surprising to me that a place like this had decent non-bar food) and there are pages and pages of fun martinis. Plus, there is a drag performer who walks up and down the aisles, performing while you eat.

It's definitely a unique experience and might be a good way to start a girl's night out.

I also saw Between listed above. I haven't been there yet, but I think it's kind of loungy, so that might be fun, too.

Feb 10, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Spring, Graham Elliot, or Aigre Doux

Help me decide folks. I'm having a belated Valentine's Day dinner and I can not decide where to go.

I love Spring and have been there many times. I find that it is consistently delicious and I love the subtle flavors, so I wouldn't be unhappy returning.

However, it might be fun to try something new.

How do Graham Elliot and Aigre Doux compare in terms of deliciousness, loudness and price?

Feb 10, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Cheer wine?

Thanks again gleam. I just picked up a case :).

Jan 24, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Best and Worst Places I ate at in Chicagoland in 2008

I almost forgot one of my favorites for the year:

Nuevo Leon (cheap and delicious Mexican food) followed by tres leches cake at Bombon Bakery.

Jan 24, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Cheer wine?

Thanks for the heads up.

Jan 24, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Cheer wine?

Thank you so much! I was pretty sure it would be impossible to find. Thanks again.

Jan 24, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Cheer wine?

My husband is from North Carolina and has been wondering if there is any place to get Cheer Wine in Chicago? Thanks!

Jan 23, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Bristol, Farmerie 58, or Publican

I just went to Publican this past week. I really enjoyed my experience. Super cozy and the service was friendly. Of course, I went on a weeknight when there was practically a blizzard outside and the dining room was only about a third full...

Anyway, the beer list was pretty impressive, although I did not partake, unfortunately.

I had the ham plate, which was fine. My husband had oysters. They had both east and west coast oysters, so that was nice. I believe they were prepared mignonette style. Hubby was seriously upset by the lack of cocktail sauce. I, however, thought they were delicious and that you could taste the oysters a lot better without the ketchup and horseradish.

My husband and I then split the mussels and the chicken with potato dish. Surprisingly, the chicken dish stole the show. The chicken was moist and flavorful...the drippings had soaked into the fried potatoes underneath. I usually don't go for soggy fries, but the flavor added by the drippings more than made up for the limpness of the fries. It was a perfect dish for a seriously cold, snowy day. The mussels were also quite good--they were large and the sauce cut into the briny flavor well.

Overall, I really liked the restaurant. It's the first gastropub I've been to that I would go back to. Next time, I'll make sure to try some beer. I think it would be a really fun place with a group of people as the plates are meant to be shared. My only caveat is that the bill could add up very quickly and you shouldn't expect anything fancy as it is essentially peasant food.

I almost forgot. Both the bread and butter were excellent. So, you could always fill up on bread, butter, and beer and select a couple of well chosen dishes and maybe get away without spending too much money.

Jan 23, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

River North for Valentine's Day

I love Quartino's, but it is definitely loud and not very romantic.
Coco Pazzo is very good and more romantic, but definitely pricier than Quartino's.

I think the Signature Lounge is always a fun idea--that way you don't have to pay to go up the elevator, although you'll pay dearly for drinks! But, it's fun. The view from the women's bathroom is the best in the city.

Jan 23, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Best and Worst Places I ate at in Chicagoland in 2008

The Best:
1. Naha---Loved it so much I went back a couple of times. Most delicious foie gras dish I've ever had is served as an appetizer here--the ambience and the food here remind me of Spring somehow, which is my favorite restaurant in Chicago

2. Coco Pazzo---Loved it because I had just gotten back from Italy and was pleased to find some real Tuscan dishes, in particular, a rabbit pasta dish ( I will say it's a bit hit or miss though).

3. Hot Doug's--a lot of fun and tasty; line is fast and the wait is worth it.

4. Charlie Trotter's--It's Charlie Trotter's. Delicious food, beautiful restaurant--my only complaint--at those prices, I really should have been amazed by every course, not just 2 or 3. But still great.

5. Everest--I think I may have liked this better than Trotter's. I do. I think I liked it more b/c I had never really had Alsatian cuisine before and was excited by some different flavors than I was used to having. That was my only issue with Trotter's--no dish really surprised me although the real standout course included prunes which was somewhat unexpected.

6. Tufano's--greatest calamari and more importantly best cocktail sauce in the world. Nothing else on the menu worth mentioning, but I continue to go out of my way for the calamari. Also, great neighborhood atmosphere.

7. Sweet Maple Cafe--Nothing fancy, but well done and delicious southern breakfast--think perfect eggs and chicken fried steak with cream gravy!

8. Palermo's Pizza (both locations--Oak Lawn and by Midway--are good, although the crust is slightly different)--This is my new favorite pizza. The sauce is so sweet it tastes like a dessert. Truly, truly amazing and delicious pizza. If you're looking for some good thin crust pizza, you should definitely try this place!

1. MK--Of course, this is relative. It was tasty, but just absolutely nothing special, at all. As such, it was insanely overpriced and extremely disappointing.

2. Park 52--This was decent, at first. However, the quality of food continues to deteriorate as the management realizes that non-Hyde Parkers will not come to Hyde Park to eat and that Hyde Parkers are desperate for anything that isn't crappy Thai food...

Jan 23, 2009
tripc in Chicago Area

Roman wedding reception

Hello all--

So my wedding planner sent me a list of possible restaurants for a wedding reception. I was wondering if you could help me out by answering the following questions...

1. Tasty? Traditional or adventurous? 2.Good ambience? 3. Price range? 4. Decent wine list (Italian only is fine)?

Here are the restaurants...
1. Cantina del Vecchio
2. Convivio
3. Osteria dell'Antiquaria
4. Pierluigi's
5. Ristorante Taverna Angelica
6. Gusto
7. Ristorante Vecchia Roma
8. Osteria dell'Ignegno
9. La Campana
10. Il Passetto

I am not that picky. This is a VERY small wedding, 10-15 people. I would prefer cozy to stuffy. All that is really required is a great meal to satisfy my guests who are traveling so far to be with me on my wedding day. Also, I'm getting married in a church in Piazza Navona, so if you know of any other close by restaurants that fit the bill, please let me know.

Thank you!

Mar 12, 2008
tripc in Italy

Help with choosing between these Rome restaurants

I agree wholeheartedly with kalyse. I absolutely fell in love with Hostaria del Moro. I ate there three times in 7 days in Rome. Blasphemous? Maybe. But once you find a good thing, you might as well stick with it and it was very close to my hotel.

Also, I actually liked Da Giggetto. However, I only ate there once and I had the special Canneloni, which was absolutely delicious. Perhaps other things there aren't as good...but I particularly enjoyed the dish and the service was excellent.

Aug 26, 2007
tripc in Italy