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Dinner by the Pier?

De La Costa is very close to Navy Pier (465 E Illinois) and the website states that their wine room can accommodate up to 18 seated guests. You can call and ask if they can fit a large group in any of their other spaces.

Otherwise Coco Pazzo Cafe is a bit more of a walk but they can definitely fit a large group (up to 25 people).

May 19, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

Cheese with priorat wines

I completely agree with the other posters about Zamorano (harder, nuttier, and richer cousin of Manchego) and would pair it with a Spanish equivalent of a Zin. Valdeon is a creamy Spanish blue.. salty but not as overpowering as Cabrales.

Monte enebro is a phenomenal cheese-- think goat rolled in ash with a tangy, salty finish. However I have had a very hard time pairing this cheese. At my most recent wine and cheese party, I paired it with Moscatel Reymos and was a bit disappointed. If you find a pairing that works, please share!!

Malvarosa is a milder, buttery cheese that has indentations from its original cheese cloth.

Cana de cabra is a soft goats milk that is fresh in the middle and melty on the outside with citrus notes.

Other Spanish cheeses that I haven't tried yet but you might want to check out are La Peral (lighter blue), Queso de aracena, and Iberico.

I know it is popular, but I am actually not impressed with Garroxta. By the way, Idiazabal is similar in texture to Zamorano but has a slightly richer flavor so I would recommend pairing it with a really big red.

May 17, 2008
missado in Wine

Cheese suggestions

I'm not familiar with that particular Malbec, so I offer two different recommendations depending on the body of the wine. For a full-bodied Malbec, I would recommend a hard Spanish cheese like zamorano, a sharper, nuttier cousin of Manchego. If the Malbec is medium-bodied, the most common pairing is probably morbier (the zing of the cheese complements the fruit in the wine) but it is a stinkier cheese. If you prefer a milder cheese, I suggest robiola (a soft ripened, creamy cheese from Piedmont) or cabecou feuille (chevre soaked in brandy, and wrapped in a chestnut leaf).

The Sangiovese will pair beautifully with piave vecchio (they are a perfect match) or if you want something spicy, try it with pecorino pepato-- it is studded with peppercorns!

IMHO fresh chevre pairs best with a grassy sauvignon blanc to balance the lemon/ tang. Cabecou feuille will pair nicely with a lighter red like Malbec or Pinot Noir because it is sweeter and creamer than fresh chevre. If you have a chevre that is mushroomy and melting, such as Humboldt Fog, then I recommend a big juicy Cab.

Enjoy and please report back on the pairings!

May 17, 2008
missado in Wine

Frozen Yogurt?

There's a new place called Berry Chill on State and Ontario that reminds me of Pinkberry. The original/plain flavor has the same tangy yogurt-y taste as Pinkberry's original. The fruit toppings are fresh and work really well with the original flavor. I think their granola or cereal toppings would taste good too. They don't have the Green Tea flavor, but as far as I recall, they offer latte, chocolate, and strawberry-banana flavors.

Apr 17, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

best italian or american for groups?

It is a chain, but you might want to try Buca di beppo (Rush and Grand). I've never eaten there, so maybe other Chowhounds can offer their opinions on the food. I have, however, heard that it is great at accommodating groups since they offer family style dining. From the menu, it looks like the Large size entrees serve 4 people and range between $20-30, so it meets your price range.

Apr 16, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

Boston Hound coming to Chicago for a weekend

Definitely go to Frontera for brunch Saturday. For Sunday, you might want to try Orange (75 W Harrison) for a unique brunch experience. The menu has dishes like frushi (fruit sushi), chai infused french toast, and french toast kebabs!! Every out-of-town guest I have taken to Orange can't stop raving about the experience.

If you are in need of a late night meal, as far as I know there are only 2 places near your hotel. Tempo Cafe (6 E Chestnut) has the usual diner/breakfast fare, and for your more upscale late night cravings Bijan's Bistro (663 N State) is open until 4am.

For a happy hour, the NoMI lounge (800 N Michigan) has exciting, but pricey ($15) martinis, delicious lounge fare, and breathtaking views of Magnificent Mile. I believe Nacional 27 (325 W Huron) also has a happy hour. If you want something cheaper, RA Sushi (1139 N State) has under $5 appetizers for happy hour!!

Apr 13, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

Designer / Trendy hotspots near River North

I would second De La Costa largely because of the decor and location. I've only had drinks there so I can't vouch for the food. The decor reminds me of a Latin twist on a Tim Burton movie. The location is in the River East Art Center, which is a beautiful, trendy space to walk around before dinner.

Apr 13, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

Memorial day weekend- meeting of the parents

I would highly recommend India House for a nice, upscale Indian dinner. The ambiance is much nicer than any restaurant in Devon and the food is very high quality. It can get a bit pricey for dinner however. If you are interested in a lunch buffet, India House has (in my opinion) the best spread.

On the other hand, going to Devon is always a lot of fun, especially for Indian parents. If the weather is nice you may even be able to get fresh sugar cane juice outside of Patel Brothers :-) Sukhadiya's is a fun snack shop with yummy bhel puri, dhai batta puri, pav bhaji, etc. Uddupi Palace is my favorite South Indian restaurant, while Tiffin and India Garden are probably your best bets for North Indian on Devon.

Apr 13, 2008
missado in Chicago Area

Veggie and foodie friendly, downtown?

As a vegetarian myself, I absolutely love Quartino ( It is perfect for groups and the wine list has a great Italian selection at reasonable prices. You will definitely need reservations for the weekend.

Green Zebra consistently impresses me as well as my vegetarian dinner companions. The current menu is one of best I've seen there in a long time! However, in my experience, non-vegetarians are not always as impressed with the food.

India House is one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Chicago. It is downtown, upscale, and certainly vegetarian friendly.

Apr 11, 2008
missado in Chicago Area