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wkaufmann's Profile

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Please please please help a desperate chowhound bride make a decision soon!

Sounds like quite a deal. I'll give them another chance for a deal like that.

Sep 15, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Please please please help a desperate chowhound bride make a decision soon!

You're right. KDK is just Marche/Opera/Gioco/Red Light. He must have some different partners for Carnivale.

By the way, what do you recommend at Opera? You seem to like the place. I've had bad luck there in the past.

Sep 15, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Please please please help a desperate chowhound bride make a decision soon!

I was at Cuatro a couple of weeks ago with a party of 8 for a birthday. Not bad, but honestly I would consider Carnivale for a big party. In general I'm no fan of KDK establishments, but I find this one high quality, reasonably priced, good drinks, and a good place for a group with good food, OK service, and a good setting. I find the main room a little over-whelming, but in the back to the side there are some smaller rooms that are perfect for a group - or on the second floor there is a good room. I'd think you could do well there for $50@.

Sep 15, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Restaurant Gift Certificate for a Wedding Gift

I'm no huge fan of KDK. Carnivale is my favorite. Red Light is fun, but the food is over priced for what you get. Marche is a last resort for me - if I have no reservation on a Saturday night, I can always get a table at Marche (its a big place). Gioco I tried once and would never visit again. Same with Opera. I'd go with Lettuce for a gift. A lot of variety and in general good quality and good service.

Sep 15, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Restaurant for 50th Birthday Dinner

RL is right on Michigan Avenue. Its a very good restaurant associated with the Ralph Lauren store - but run by the same people who run Gibsons, one of the best Chicago steak houses. Traditional American food in a kind of 50s country club setting (Ralph Lauren - go figure...) I've been there a couple times and have found the service and food consistently good. Nice, but not too formal. Full menu is at http://rlrestaurant.polo.com

Cafe Spiaggia and Brasserie Jo are good too. You won't go wrong at any of them.

Sep 09, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Good shawerma in Chicago?

I love the Pita Inn, but Skokie is a LOOONG Cab ride from 520 S. Michigan - probably a $30-40 cab ride each way. Could be an hour ride if you get stuck in rush hour. And not a lot of cabs up that way when it comes time to go back. But you're right - it is great cheap food. I go to the one out in Glenview every couple of weeks. If only they'd open one in the loop...

Sep 08, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Fish and chips

I thought O'Briens (on Wells) had pretty good fish and chips, but I don't know how a Brit would feel about being told that an Irish Pub was the place to go...

Sep 07, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

May Street Market?

Opened up very recently.

I went there a few weeks ago with some picky vegetarian friends - they have a fairly vegetarian friendly menu. We were all very impressed with the food and decor, but there were some service problems.

For an appetizer I had a delicious Maytag Blue Cheesecake. A savory, not sweet, cheesecake. Entree was the Venison perfectly cooked on a bed of spinach noodles with a tart berry preserve - sounds like an odd combination but it was fabulous. I also tried the Crab Cakes, Lemongrass Soup, and Lasagne. I'd order any of it again.

They have a very interesting wine list at cheaper then normal prices, but that is where things started to get a little tricky - our waiter was short on familiarity with the list, and since there are so many non-standard options, that was a problem. As it turns out, we picked one out of a hat and it was great.

Then the food was slow in coming. It took almost ten minutes between ordering and getting our appetizer, and then we waited, and waited, and waited... About 30 minutes after our appetizers had arrived, I took a look around and noticed that no one in the room had entrees yet. Either appetizers or nothing but looks of longing.

And all of a sudden the entrees began arriving and everyone was happy again.

So they need to tighten up the service some, but once they do it will be tough to get a reservation, so go now - just remember to order appetizers.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Birthday Dinner Help

Greektown is good. Another idea is Carnivale. Huge colorful place. Really good Latin/Mexican. Entrees $15-25. Valet is only $5, and I often find parking in the area.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Eating and Cooking Well in Chicago - HELP!

There's a great book called "A Cooks Guide to Chicago" (by Marilyn Pocius) with hundreds of listings for food/wine stores, cook's supplies, ethnic stores, etc. Anything you need. You can get it at any local bookstore, or for that matter Amazon if you're not in the area yet.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

One Night (Sunday) in Chicago?

Gibsons/Hugos Frog Bar are always good for steak, although Smith and Wollensky is a walk from your hotel and not bad for a chain. Nice location on the river.

Two other non-steak within a 5 minute cab ride are Coco Pazzo (Italian) and Crofton on Wells (American). They've both been around for a long time and are very consistent. I'd think some pasta might go down well after 26.2 miles.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Best of Chicago for Visiting Hound?

Als is a good one for Italian Beef (169 W Ontario). Really just a roadside stand with a few tables under a tent, but about as good as you'll find.

Honestly, there is a ton of great food in Chicago that is not Italian Beef/Pizza. If you're up to more, you can go wild, especially if you're on a Per Diem to pay for/defray the costs.

Navy Pier is in a part of town called Streeterville - between the Loop to the South and Gold Coast to the North. Despite having a ton of pricey condos and high end shopping, the food scene seems to be domintated by chains. I never go out there but others may know of some winners in the area.

I have more luck to the North and West - but you don't need to go far - maybe a 5-10 minute cab ride. Certainly worth getting around if you're in town for a while.

To give you an idea, here are a couple of areas to check out:

1) West Loop - Greek Town (Try Santorini), Blackbird ($$$) or the cheaper Avec (my preference, same owners), Carnivale (Latin, trendy, good people watching, food good - esp, Guacamole), Sushi Wabi

2) Near North - Coco Pazo (Italian -there's also a lower end Coco Pazo Cafe in Streeterville), Gene and Georgetti's (Steak House), Tizi Meloul, Pepper Canister (Bar with good pub food and great beer on tap), Kan Zaman (cheap Lebanese), Tizi Meloul (Mid-East Fusion), Crofton on Wells ($$$ - Regional American).

3) Old Town - on Wells Street by North Avenue - Adobo Grill (Mex), Topo Gigio (Italian), Bistro Margot (French), Kamehachi (Sushi) - All just South of Second City comedy club.

Just a small sampling from three small areas. In general, for most of these, I'd say paln $50 for a couple drinks, appetizer, entree, tax and tip. If you're interested in something more specific, let us know.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Good shawerma in Chicago?

A little out of the way, but about two blocks north of the loop is a good Lebanese place called Kan Zaman (617 N. Wells). I've never had the Schawerma, but the Veggie plate, Hummus, and Gyros are all very good, so its a good all around place. I've been there a couple of times. FYI, its BYO, so bring your own (Binny's is a good beverage store nearby at 213 W. Grand. If you're walking/cabing from the loop, its on the way). Also, Belly Dancing on Friday/Saturday nights. Several good restaurants on the same block - Tizi Meloul, Crofton on Wells, Sushi Samba Rio, Lou Malnatis Pizza, Pepper Canister is a good Bar.

Sep 05, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Looking for help for Chicago dinner

When I was 15, my idea of great food ran along the lines of the Cheesecake Factory/Grand Lux Cafe because, well, there was always that Cheesecake. I've moved on from that now, but I've seen a lot of families dining in high end Chicago restaurants with kids never seem to quite comprehend the beauty of their $35 filets.

Assuming your kids are a little more worldly than I was (not tough), Tizi Meloul might be fun. Middle Eastern fusion you might call it. Another fun one is Carnivale. Huge place. Lots going on. Great Guacamole. Santorini in Greektown? These are all SW of Bellevue a 10-15 min cab ride. You could also try Red Light. Asian. I find it a little overpriced, but its a neat experience. Plus the Chicago Chocolate company is across the street where you can pick your own chocolate desert.

None of this would really qualify as fine dining, but a lot of my friends with teenage kids like them.

On a side note, I have a truely disappointing experience at Cyrano's two weeks ago. The only thing worse than the bland food was the incompetant service. Maybe I caught them on a bad night. Seems like they used to be better. I find Bistro Margot, or Bistro 110 a lot better and closer to you hotel. Topo Gigio is a not bad Italian in the area. Not on the level of Cafe Spiagga, but more casual. Wells Street is a fun one to walk down. Second City comedy club is right up the road.

For lunch, Big Bowl is not a bad Asian chain near Bellevue.

Sep 01, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Navy Pier

I'm with Mugs. I'm no fan of Navy Pier. Take them to Millenium Park and maybe a walk down Michigan avenue to Streeterville/Goldcoast. Blackies is a neat little burger joint on lower Michigan. Coco Pazzo Cafe is good italian. Rockit Bar and Grill has good bar food and is great for people watching.

Aug 31, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Thoughts on Table or Carnivale?

Carnivale is quite trendy these days, but despite that I really find the food consistently good, and it has a great atmosphere. I live down the road, so I take all my out of town friends there. Its an enormous place. Worth a trip just for the experience. Make sure you order the guacamole. Prices are reasonable. Service can be inconsistent.

If you want another opinion, check out www.metromix.com (Chi. Tribune web site) or www.chicagoreader.com. They each must have a hundered reviews of the place.

Aug 31, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

vegetarian friendly restaurants?

I recently went out with a couple veggie friends to May Street Market on the corner of Grand and May St. They had two good veggie entrees and a quite a few soups, appetizers, and salads, including the exceptional Maytag Blue Cheesecake appetizer. Everyone was pleasantly suprised. Service a little slow, but otherwise great, and a very interesting, well priced wine list.

Aug 31, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area

Pops is closed. Another option?

Tasting Room. www.tlcwine.com. 5 by the glass. A little out of the way, but you could always go out to eat on Randolph/Greektown after.

Bin 36 is a little more in the middle of things, but none of their sparkling wines by the glass are really Champagne.

Aug 10, 2006
wkaufmann in Chicago Area