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Michelin Stars Are Out

It hasn't been commented on yet, but I would like to add that I had a very good experience at Takashi a few weeks ago and feel that it is very deserving of a star. Every dish we had was amazing. The decor isn't that great and the space feels a bit crowded, but the food more than makes up for it.

Nov 17, 2010
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Michelin Stars Are Out

I agree with this assessment of Mercat and Sepia. I think that neither is worthy of a star. Ria is intriguing and now on my list of places to try. FWIW, I have dined at Balsan (the other restaurant in the Elysian) for a corporate event and the service was absolutely terrible.

Nov 17, 2010
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Best splurge in Chicago? Trotters, L2o, Everest, Alinea, Les Nomades etc?

Agree that consensus is difficult, in my case I absolutely love Les Nomades and have mixed feelings regarding TRU. On one hand the food was delicious and the space absolutely beautiful, but my experience was somewhat marred by something that happened while I was dining there and how it was dealt with by the staff. After all, dining out is a truly emotional experience (even more so when it comes to splurge meals/special occasions) and it is difficult to separate the technical aspects of the cuisine with other subjective factors.

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Les Nomades
222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

Nov 17, 2010
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Michelin Stars Are Out

North Pond is very overrated.

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North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Nov 17, 2010
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Michelin Stars Are Out

Les Nomades offers some of the most incredible food I have ever eaten and is definitely worth two stars in my book.

I would have also loved to see Avec grab a star, but despite it being one of my favorite establishments, I will admit that they have slipped a bit in the past couple years. However, I have dined there since their reopening and the new menu is phenomenal. If that is any indication, they will be starred next year.

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Avec Restaurant
615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

Les Nomades
222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

Nov 17, 2010
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Non-Chain Recommendations in Champaign-Urbana, IL

Good:

Timpone's - Probably the best meal I've had in the C-U area. Excellent all-around. Try the foie gras paired with french toast, I was very impressed.

Farren's - Pretty good, very small menu but good choices. Portions are small and felt somewhat overpriced for the pub setting.

Lai-Lai Wok - Good all-around, I have been here many times.

Rainbow Garden - Try their Mongolian Beef, it's fantastic. Not too sure on their other dishes.

Woori Jib - Excellent BBQ meats (not traditional Korean DIY BBQ, they just give it to you on a plate). High quality ingredients and good all-around. I usually go here at least once a week.

Apple Dumplin - All around good food and service. Don't expect a gourmet meal by any means, but they do a great job serving homestyle country cooking. They have a fixed menu with only 2-3 items every day.

Bread Company - Good sandwiches for lunch, fondue for dinner.

Decent:

Pasha - I really enjoyed my meal because I was craving this type of food, but nothing special. Meats are tough.

Courier Cafe - Sandwiches are good but nothing amazing. Would still recommend for great value.

Slivercreek - Very nice interior, food was nothing great compared to the high prices. Didn't like the service.

Fiesta Cafe - Nothing too great. I had heard good things about it and was pretty disappointed.

Guido's - Food is mediocre but pretty good value with their specials. Their outdoor seating is nice.

Avoid:

Kamakura - Terrible Sushi

KoFusion - Garish interior, terrible sushi, high prices

(Honestly you can't really expect good sushi from Champaign, shipping the fish simply takes too long.)

I'm in a hurry so I kept the descriptions short, let me know if you would like me to elaborate on anything or recommend specific menu items.

Oct 13, 2008
pezzonovante in Great Lakes

Prego craving pork belly / meaty succulence

Pork belly = Blackbird. Hands down.

Oct 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

One week in Chicagoland, suggestions please.

If you make it out to Greektown, try Santorini. Absolutely sublime.

I like nsxtasy's recommendation of Hugo's, though I have not been to the one in Naperville. Generally the suburban versions are not as good as the originals.

Oct 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Help with dress code at Blackbird

Most are dressed in upscale casual. I recently went with family and my younger sister wore a flimsy t-shirt and jeans but it was fine. The atmosphere is not stuffy at all.

PS - I've noticed that both Blackbird and Avec do better with more complicated/creative preparations. The plain/classic dishes that we ordered weren't as great. Also try the Cantaloupe Sorbet, it's the best sorbet I've ever had (and I almost always have Sorbet for desert as I try to avoid dairy). Enjoy!

Oct 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

What should I order at TRU?

I am curious about the same thing, I will be going to TRU in a few days and wanted to get the best experience.

Oct 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Best Bread in Chicago

Anyone?

Sep 11, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Best Value in Chicago

Thanks for the replies everyone -

I've had Three Happiness many times, although Lao Sze Chuan remains my favorite.

I will try out Marche (same owner as Opera if I remember correctly) and Lula Cafe, any suggestions for what I should order?

For Indian in River North, where should I go?

Sep 11, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Mercat a la Planxa - great food

I also tried Mercat recently, propelled by the great reviews it had been getting on Chowhound. I have mixed feelings about it - the first 4-5 dishes that we got were great, but the rest were disappointing.

We also had the Pulpo con Patatas, which I thought was amazing. The fried peppers, and the squid ink pasta were fantastic as well. Had several others which escape me at this moment that were very good.

Something was off with the Hamachi, a bit too raw and very fishy. A couple of the dishes were too salty as well.

Desserts were possibly among the worst I have ever had, completely ruining the meal for me.

Service was very friendly, though a bit awkwardly paced.

Sep 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Sushi in Chi Town

I have been to Oysy several times as a friend of mine was working there. They are ok, but nothing spectacular in my opinion.

For the best sushi, try Mirai (Bucktown) or Katsu (Koreatown).

For best value, try Ginza House (River North) or Sai Cafe (Lincoln Park).

Sep 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Good Indian Downtown Chicago

There is a Gaylord by Woodfield in Schaumburg, not sure about the one in the city.

Sep 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Best Value in Chicago

What are some places that offer great value for the prices paid? I'm looking for more places along the lines of Avec, that have pretty high quality food in an upscale setting for no more than $15-25 pp (without liquor). I'm open to any type of food, at any time of the day. Thanks!

Sep 09, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Thai Urban Kitchen in Ogilvie Center

I definitely have Blackbird at the top of my list for restaurants that I would like to try, that are otherwise out of my usual price range.

Do you have any other recommendations? I am specifically looking for places that would offer a lunch that stands up equally to their dinner menu.

May 15, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

smoothies

Joy Yee's in Chinatown has great smoothies that are made from a wide selection of fresh fruit. A personal favorite is Honeydew with Lychee, it is absolutely sublime. I would recommend adding Lychee into anything you get, and eschewing the bubbles (a novelty that gets annoying).

Apr 23, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

First time to Chicago/Romantic Dinner

Hugo's has great food but it wouldn't be the best if you are looking for a romantic experience. It has more of a rowdy ambiance that is best enjoyed with a few friends for a relaxed dinner.

Apr 23, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

IF you had to choose 2 places downtown

More information would help us make the best possible recommendations for you. But going by $25 pp including tax and tip, there are two places that I would recommend -

Avec
615 W. Randolph

Spectacular Mediterranean cuisine, with excellent value offered for the price point. There is communal seating and it gets pretty loud so it is not the right place for an intimate dinner. They do not take reservations so avoid peak days/hours.

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer

A bit further south than 'downtown' but worth the trip. Best Chinese in Chicago hands down. Again, excellent value offered. Every time I eat here (which is quite often), I find myself craving more the next day.

I'm sure that nsxtasy will offer many excellent options as well, you can't go wrong with anything he suggests.

Apr 16, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Trying to find some Korean food..

Anyone know of some good Korean restaurants around the Loop? The South Loop would be perfect but anywhere south of River North would be fine. I have this craving that I haven't been able to satisfy in quite some time..

Apr 16, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Best Subs

I tried the Fontano's on Jackson and was slightly let down, as I had pretty high expectations coming in.

One place that blew me away was L'Appetito on Huron, go there with a big appetite and you will not be disappointed. Make sure you get a side as well.

I enjoy Potbelly's quite often, and would like to echo some comments already made - not great, but pretty good and consistent, and offers excellent value. Try the Wreck on wheat!

Apr 16, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area

Trattoria No. 10 or Cafe Spiaggia??

I agree that Trattoria No. 10 is overrated, food was sub-par and service was not great either. Found all their offerings to be way too salty, even their bread if you can believe it. However, the ambiance is nice and quiet - it was perfect for the occasion (without going into too much detail).

Apr 16, 2008
pezzonovante in Chicago Area