nsxtasy's Profile

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Lou Mitchell's

Lou Mitchell's has been around for a long, long time, and has hardly changed at all over the years. The food, as well as the experience, is standard diner fare - decent, but in no way memorable. Chicago has some terrific breakfast restaurants, but Lou Mitchell's is nothing special.

IMHO the very best breakfast-oriented restaurant in Chicago is Jam. Imagine a creative chef with fine dining experience going out and opening a casual, inexpensive breakfast-focused place, and that's what Jeff Mauro has done with Jam. www.jamrestaurant.com Two other outstanding breakfast-oriented restaurants in the city are M. Henry (LOVE the blisscakes and bread pudding, also soups and omelets) www.mhenry.net and Southport Grocery (wonderful bread pudding pancakes, adult pop tarts, omelets, sandwiches). www.southportgrocery.com

At almost any breakfast-focused restaurant, in the city or suburbs, you'll encounter significant waits to be seated between roughly 9:30 and 1:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. One way to avoid those waits is to eat before or after that time period (or on weekdays). Another is to have brunch at a nicer restaurant that accepts reservations. Brunch at very nice restaurants is not necessarily all that expensive; for example, you can have a lovely three-course Sunday brunch at North Pond, complete with its exquisite setting in the middle of the park, for $34. www.northpondrestaurant.com Shaw's is more expensive (around $50) but it's worth it, since it's more dinner-like and is all-you-can-eat, with items like shrimp, king crab legs, and crab cakes, as well as their yummy thick-cut caramelized bacon and the usual benedicts. www.shawscrabhouse.com

I've had Sunday brunch at dozens of restaurants in the Chicago area, and those are my favorites in the city. I haven't been to Sweet Maple Café.

about 3 hours ago
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Yet another conventioneer...

Thanks for the report - keep it coming!

>> We have Publican reservations for dinner, but as we have been there before, I think we are going to head to Nightwood for a big brunch instead, possibly stopping at the French Market for a lighter (and cheaper) dinner before cocktails at Aviary.

It sounds like you may be planning to go to the French Market today. Don't. It's closed on Sundays.

about 15 hours ago
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Nice Restaurant near Rock and Roll HOF [Cleveland]

Lola is casual and moderately priced, with entrees mostly high twenties to low thirties. That's NOT an expensive restaurant in most large cities, where entrees can be upper thirties to low forties and tasting menus are often around $100 and can exceed $200.

The OP did not say anything implying he/she is interested in budget dining, only something "not too expensive". In most cities, Lola would definitely meet that description. The OP can elaborate further if needed.

1 day ago
nsxtasy in Great Lakes

An Already Researched Solicitation for Comments

I disagree thoroughly with your characterization of Chicago's high-end restaurants. I find the service (at Grace, Alinea, TRU, and Everest) naturally warm, friendly, and helpful, every bit as much so as the top high-end restaurants on both coasts where I've dined. Perhaps we should just agree to disagree on that count.

As for Sixteen, I have just felt that it's not quite on the same level as those others, although it aspires to do so. The food is good, not great, not one wonderful dish after another like I've found at Grace, Alinea, Tru, and Everest, and the service is flawed, trying to be helpful but with occasional gaffes.

I don't think El Ideas and Elizabeth are "gimmicks"; they are just a different style of eating, and you should really not criticize restaurants where you haven't even dined. FWIW, I was disappointed in the food at El Ideas (not a single dish was memorably delicious), and somewhat so at Elizabeth (many high points but also quite a few misses). But I don't consider them "gimmicks", just a different experience.

I think Brindille and Boka are both excellent choices, for the reasons you have mentioned.

Oct 17, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Dining by MSI / Best Japanese in city?

I haven't been to Browntrout, but it's in the North Center neighborhood on the north side, five miles north of the Loop. You could drive there - it's reasonably parking-friendly (make sure you obey all parking signs, including those on main streets where you'll need to feed the "pay boxes" that have replaced parking meters). Or you could take public transit - see www.transitchicago.com for CTA info, Google Maps is also good for finding routes.

It's really not that far. OTOH there are so many great restaurants in River North, and they do a terrific job with kids, particularly if you eat somewhat early (5-6) before they get slammed. And you can walk out your door and walk a few blocks, no need to deal with parking and reparking the car, etc. If I were staying with kids in River North, I'd be taking them to the great small plates places: Sable, GT Fish & Oyster (if they like seafood), and at an off hour, Purple Pig. Their half portions and small plates are perfect for kids.

Oct 17, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Dining by MSI / Best Japanese in city?

>> Sat night, I wanted to find a good sushi or ramen place for dinner (staying in River North area).

See:

The 15 best bowls of ramen in Chicago, ranked - www.thrillist.com/eat/chicago/best-ra...

>> Sunday, we were considering Ann Sather before PNNM due purely to the cinnamon rolls. Any suggestions for lunch either before we leave Lincoln Park or on the way out?

If you're getting around by car, I'd go to Jam. It's the most creative breakfast/brunch/lunch in the city. www.jamrestaurant.com A little closer to Lincoln Park is Southport Grocery, which is also excellent. www.southportgrocery.com Like all our brunch specialty places, you can expect to wait 20-45 minutes at either on a Sunday between roughly 9:00 and 1:00, but if you can go outside that time frame, waits should be brief to non-existent. Jam closes the doors at 3, but you can be seated right up to that time.

I'm not particularly current on Hyde Park dining these days, other than hearing about the opening of A10, the Promontory, and a second location of Yusho. Perhaps someone else can help there.

Oct 16, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

An Already Researched Solicitation for Comments

I guess I'm not sure what you're looking for, as you seem to be more focused on atmosphere than on food - and it's a bit harder to understand your criticism of Grace for being "sterile", yet you loved Blackbird, which if anything is more "sterile" than Grace. But to address your specific questions and a few other comments...

>> Friday Dinner: We are staying at the Waldorf and are considering room service or carry out of Pizano's or Malnati’s. Would another option be purchasing items from Eataly and doing an in-room picnic?

Yes, that would be another option.

>> Are there any great bakery/specialty food stores in the area of our hotel that are must visits?

No, not other than Eataly, IMHO.

>> Sixteen- is the cost worth the risk? Also, hotel dining rooms tend to lack personality (though the great view may make up for that here)

I'm not sure I understand your question, as I'm not sure of what type of risk you're referring to. My best guess is that perhaps you're confusing Sixteen with Schwa; the former is the restaurant in the Trump Hotel, while the latter is the restaurant that often cancels reservations at the last minute.

Also, the view from Sixteen isn't all that great; there's only a small sliver of lake in the view, and otherwise you're just looking at the faces of buildings, but the room itself is rather dramatic, with very tall ceilings and full-length windows.

>> North Pond: the menu never seems to appeal despite the charm of the location and the accolades

I love North Pond, but frankly, I HATE their menu, because I don't think it does justice to the terrific food. I hate menus like theirs that merely list a few ingredients without indicating how the dish is actually prepared. What you can't get from the menu, for example, is Bruce Sherman's style - for example, when five ingredients are listed, they are often five different items on the plate, rather than one item using those five ingredients. And chances are that you'll love at least half of those items. Also the desserts are some of the very best I've had in Chicago in recent years.

>> Vera: Does this work for a full meal or only snacking?

It works for either.

Oct 16, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Food itinerary for Chicago

>> are there any places that are just out of this world that we should make an effort to try?

Below are my picks for "do not miss" places, all "out of this world".

I also have a few favorites convenient to Lakeview where you are staying. Deleece is an excellent contemporary bistro type place, very moderately priced too. www.deleece.com And Southport Grocery is excellent for brunch/lunch. Note, you'll wait a while to be seated on Saturdays/Sundays. www.southportgrocery.com

>> Would reservations be required?

For dinner at places that accept them, yes, absolutely. At some of these places you may not get in without them; at others, you can probably get seated quickly without a reservation, especially since you will be dining early, but why not make them anyway? You can always cancel them if your plans change. They may be less essential at lunch, although there are some places (e.g. Topolobampo, Frontera Grill) where they are advisable at lunch as well.

On the list below, reservations are accepted at all of the #1-8 places, including on Opentable.com (except Frontera Grill, at cityeats.com), but not at #9-10.

>> Also, are there tourist attractions near by to see?

Near Wrigley? Not really anything specific. Also, I know the Chowhound Team frowns on non-food recommendations. Your best bet for tourist attraction information is the city's tourism website at www.choosechicago.com

And now for my list of ten "DO NOT MISS" restaurants for a first visit to Chicago. These are places that are also worth many return visits. They're roughly in order by price, so for example if you're not interested in spending a lot of money for fine dining, just ignore the first few places listed.

1. Alinea - Acclaimed by many as the best restaurant in the country. My recent dinner there was the very best in my entire life. Notable for its unusual presentation techniques as well as its amazing deliciousness. www.alinearestaurant.com

2. Grace - Sophisticated place whose "sum is greater than the parts", with excellent food, décor, and service. www.grace-restaurant.com

3. North Pond - Unique for its setting in the middle of the park, facing its namesake pond and the city skyline. James Beard Award-winning chef turning out wonderful food (special props to the dessert chef too). Unlike the previous two, more casual (jackets not required/recommended) and less expensive ($100-120/pp including moderate alcohol and tax/tip). My recent dinner there was the best so far of 2014. www.northpondrestaurant.com

4. Naha - Like North Pond, another James Beard Award-winning chef turning out wonderful food. And similarly more casual and less expensive. www.naha-chicago.com

5. Contemporary Mexican cuisine - a specialty of Chicago and rarely found elsewhere this side of the Mexican border. Rick Bayless's Topolobampo and Frontera Grill are open for lunch or dinner. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants If you can't snag a reservation there, consider Mexique in West Town www.mexiquechicago.com or Mixteco Grill in Lakeview. www.mixtecogrill.com

6. Sable - Delicious contemporary American cuisine in a small plates format, combined with innovative craft cocktails. www.sablechicago.com

7. GT Fish & Oyster - Excellent seafood in a small plates format, combined with innovative craft cocktails. www.gtoyster.com

8. Anteprima - In a city full of new and old Italian restaurants, this remains my favorite, and my most frequently-visited restaurant not in my 'hood. www.anteprimachicago.net

9. Lou Malnati's - With locations all over the city and suburbs, perhaps our best place for our delicious local specialty of deep-dish pizza. www.loumalnatis.com

10. Jam - Chicago has quite a few breakfast/brunch-focused restaurants, but if I had to choose only one, it's Jam. Imagine what a creative chef with a fine-dining background would create for an inexpensive breakfast restaurant, and that's Jam. www.jamrestaurant.com

And, while not a single restaurant, I think our French Market is also worth a visit. It's in one of the commuter train stations just west of the Loop, and features some of the best restaurants of their type in Chicago, including Lillie's Q for barbecue, Vanille Patisserie for breads and pastry, Saigon Sisters for pho and banh mi, Pastoral for cheese and sandwiches, and Fumare for Montreal-style smoked meats. www.frenchmarketchicago.com

And don't miss Garrett's for popcorn, with several locations downtown while you're here, and locations at O'Hare to grab some on your way home. www.garrettpopcorn.com

Oct 16, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Tasting Menus- Chicago

For that budget, it's also worth considering Naha and North Pond, both of which are $90 for their tasting menus. Great food and service at both - no wonder Carrie Nahabedian and Bruce Sherman are both winners of the James Beard Award for best chef in this region!

www.naha-chicago.com
www.northpondrestaurant.com

Oct 15, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Best Cajun/ New Orleans food in Chicago area?

Big Jones on the north side in Andersonville is terrific. www.bigjoneschicago.com

Also very good is Heaven on Seven, with two locations downtown and one in west suburban Naperville. Check the hours on their website, as the one on Wabash in the Loop is open for breakfast and lunch but not usually for dinner, while the one on Rush in River North is lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. www.heavenonseven.com

Dixie Kitchen, with locations in north suburban Evanston www.dixiekitchenevanston.com and in south suburban Lansing www.dixiekitchen-lansing.com , is pretty good, not necessarily destination dining but if you happen to be in either area, worth checking out.

Oct 15, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Trip Report: 4 days in October with kids

Thanks for the report. Feedback is always helpful.

Incidentally, Goosefoot is still within the Chicago city limits, in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. You'd need to travel even further before you hit the suburbs. :)

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Restaurant for Family near Chicago Theater

Petterino's is a family-oriented steakhouse a block away. www.petterinos.com

Pizano's on Madison serves our delicious local specialty, deep-dish pizza. Note, you can phone ahead with your pizza order, otherwise deep-dish can take 30-40 minutes to bake. www.pizanoschicago.com

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Please critique my list for St Louis

Sounds good. Oh, and I wouldn't rule out Niche (the regular one, not the casual Taste Bar). For finer dining, it's truly outstanding!

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Niche, Pappy's, and 801 Chophouse

Thanks for your report! And yes, Niche is a true standout, one that everyone in STL should be proud of!

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Looking for a Saint Louis Restaurant

Yup, definitely Tony's.

Some cities have one iconic institution, a great fine-dining restaurant that has been around for decades. In STL, that's Tony's. Opened in 1946, it was THE place in town as far back as the 1950s. I remember dining there in the 1980s, same thing then, and still excellent today. The restaurant's website is www.saucecafe.com/tonys and you can read more about its history at www.stlmag.com/A-Conversation-with-Vi...

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Nice Restaurant near Rock and Roll HOF [Cleveland]

Lola, from Michael Symon, is less than a mile away. So good! www.lolabistro.com

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Lakes

Visiting Chicago - TRU or Moto?

Gonzo, care to comment about Grace as a possible alternative, if they can get a reservation? (I had edited my post to add a note about Grace, just before you posted.) I know it's one of your favorites...

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Visiting Chicago - TRU or Moto?

All of these are good, but there are differences. Between those two, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for delicious, creative food, with impeccable service in a luxurious setting, go to TRU. If you're looking for more unusual presentation techniques (e.g. a dish made to look like something else entirely), then Moto may be a better choice.

I think TRU, and also Everest, are the "hidden gems" of Chicago's fine dining scene, places that have been around a while and are still wonderful in every way but aren't mentioned as often as Alinea, Grace, L2O, or Sixteen.

Speaking of which, have you actually CALLED Grace? Grace is outstanding. There may be availability that is not shown on Opentable. I recommend phoning them to see if you can get a reservation; if you're interested, it wouldn't hurt to call and ask. It would be my top choice, over TRU or Moto.

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Trip Report - Chicago with a 20 month year old - Long post

Thanks for posting such a detailed report. Feedback is always helpful!

Incidentally, the name of the place where you unexpectedly ate in Logan Square is LULA Café. It's a great choice.

Glad you had such a great experience. Come visit again!

Oct 14, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Lillie's Q opening in my area, how excited should I get?

>> truly great smoked meats do not require sauce to be transcendent.

I absolutely disagree with this as a blanket statement, while you are certainly welcome to your OPINION about it. There are different styles of barbecue, and different people prefer different styles. I prefer barbecue that is not merely smoked meat, but rather, is meat that is slow-cooked while basted with a barbecue sauce. FOR ME, truly great barbecue DOES require sauce to be transcendent, and I don't care for barbecue prepared without sauce and/or with only a dry rub (such as at Smoque); to me that's just smoked meat, not what I consider barbecue. You are welcome to prefer smoked meat without any sauce and/or with only a dry rub. Different strokes! That's why there are different places with different styles and different cooking techniques.

The best advice I can give to the OP is, go to Lillie's Q and decide for yourself whether it's the style of barbecue that YOU like. (Oh, and that tri-tip sandwich at Lillie's Q, smoked beef on a brioche bun - so, so good!!!)

Oct 13, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Lillie's Q opening in my area, how excited should I get?

I consider it to be "superior barbeque". I wouldn't recommend a place just because it's in the French Market, only if it were actually among our best places of its type. And that's what Lillie's Q is (as well as numerous other places in the French Market also being among the best of their kind).

There are a lot of good barbeque places in Chicago. Smoque, Carson's, County, Honey 1, Uncle John's, Bub City, and Green Street Smoked Meats, among others, all have their fans, just as Lillie's Q does. Bottom line, though, Lillie's Q is very good barbeque, worth traveling for and not just "if you happen to be in the neighborhood".

Oct 13, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Please critique my list for St Louis

:)

Thanks for the kind words!

Oct 13, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Tuesday early dinner, near Chicago Symphony, vegetarian-friendly

Thanks for posting this useful information!

Oct 12, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Chicago cocktails and football

GW is correct that the places on the lists for which I posted the links are more along the lines of typical bars, rather than places with craft cocktails and mixologists. Maybe you might prefer watching the game with lots of other Notre Dame alumni at places that cater to the school, rather than looking for places with a good mixology program. Or maybe not. Obviously, that's up to you, but it's something to consider (especially in case you are not already aware that many bars cater to specific schools and their alums).

I don't know whether they would have the game on at Sable, sorry. You could always phone them and ask.

Oct 12, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Kid-friendly good eats?

>> Any recommendations for lunch near the Field museum would be great.

Bongo Room at Wabash and Roosevelt is a great choice. Pancakes for the kids, salads and sandwiches for the adults. Note, a standard order consists of three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can also do a one-third or two-thirds order at reduced prices. Beware long waits to be seated on weekends between 9:30 and 1:00. www.thebongoroom.com

Little Branch Café is another good choice. It's a coffeehouse where they also do very good prepared-to-order food. It's a bit difficult to find, on the ground floor of a high-rise. www.littlebranchcafe.com

Both are fine with kids.

Oct 12, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Chicago cocktails and football

This is what you want:

"The ND Club of Chicago is pleased to partner with the following locations as Official Club Game Watch Locations for the 2014-2015 fiscal year!" www.ndchicago.org/nd-sports-and-game-...

There's a bigger list (9 bars for Notre Dame) at www.chibarproject.com/Features/Colleg...

Oct 12, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area

Tuesday early dinner, near Chicago Symphony, vegetarian-friendly

Go to tesori. It's perfect for what you're looking for! On the same block as the Symphony Center, the entrance is on Adams right around the corner. I'm not sure but they may even have a way to get from the restaurant to the Symphony Center without going outside. Delicious Italian food, moderately-priced, with plenty of vegetarian options (shown with a "(v)" on their menu). The service is excellent, and they're accustomed to serving pre-concert customers; just let them know what time you want to be done. I'm not sure you need to book quite so early as 4:00-4:30 though; I would have guessed a 5:00 reservation would be sufficient, especially considering that you're skipping dessert. To be sure, you may want to call them and ask what time you should make the reservation to be done with your dinner by 6:00 or 6:15. I'm sure they can advise you and get you done in time, without making you feel rushed. www.tesorichicago.com

Oct 11, 2014
nsxtasy in Chicago Area
1

Please critique my list for St Louis

>> what are people saying about Rooster's new location?

I haven't been to the new location, but I've been to the original downtown. (I posted a report on Rooster, Half & Half, Niche, Bogart's, and a few other places at www.chow.com/topics/860779 ) I really enjoyed Half & Half, liked Rooster too but if I had to choose between the two, it's no contest, I'd go to Half & Half. Yes it's loud but the Clara's cakes and the donuts make it oh so worth it, so good!

Oh, and I know you already mentioned Niche in your opening post - I thought it was absolutely stellar, wonderful in every way.

Oct 10, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Please critique my list for St Louis

>> What would you consider off hours for both?

Bogart's is open 10:30-4:00 Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30-8:00 Fridays and Saturdays. When I went, I got there at 10:30 on a Monday when they opened, and of course it was empty. But by around 11:15 when I left, I was surprised to see that almost all the seating was taken and a small line had formed of folks waiting to order, as shown below in the photo I took. (I would consider 11:15 to be an off hour, but it was already getting busy!) So I would say get there before 11:30, or else go mid-afternoon after the lunch rush.

Oct 09, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains

Please critique my list for St Louis

Same is true for Bogart's.

Oct 09, 2014
nsxtasy in Great Plains