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chucktowneater's Profile

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Unexpected but excellent visit to Cleveland - Report

Great picks on such short notice! Nice work.

Best fries in Chicago

I totally agree. Dunlays, very surprisingly, puts out some of the best fries I've had in the city. I find myself saying, no thanks, to fries, and then eating all of my gf's. Hot Doug's are good, but they frequently are not as crispy as I like.

May 29, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

The Ques Brothers led by Willie Wagner of Honky Tonk BBQ!!!

I'd spend $6/gallon for some of that smoked turducken. That looks incredible!

May 21, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Foie! Foie is back!

Made reservations when I received the e-mail. It sounds too good to be true :)

May 16, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Tasty restaurants in Bucktown

As we're posting corrections, in response to chicgail's post, Buena Terra is not a BYO restaurant, but they have a decent wine selection and the food is solid, For unique food, I second Irazu for authentic Costa Rican fare and you can't go wrong with Fonda Del Mar either.

May 16, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

IF YOU HAVE 3 DAYS in Chicago Where would you eat?

I'll bite. I'd do one super high-end meal and (1) alinea most clearly fits that bill. Second, I'd do some haute-Mexican, probably (2) Sol de Mexico. I'd go to (3) Hot Doug's in this city of dog's homage to the weiner. For a great-value and really enjoyable BYO meal, I'd check out (4) Bonsoiree and do the tasting menu there. I'll include one drink place (5) Whiskey Sky at the top of the Lakeshore W hotel would be it for the lake and navy pier view and the inventive (albeit pretty pricey) drinks.

May 04, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Dinner at Schwa next Friday - wine question

I'd go with something more versatile. I brought an alsatian riesling and some bottle of red burgundy. We ate some unexpected courses (which was great) and it's nice to have something versatile in terms of pairing. Maybe bring a bottle of the brunello and as long as the chardonnay isn't overly oaked that'd be fine too. Have a great meal!

Apr 29, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Duck a l'Orange in Chicago

Yeah, I had the Peking Duck a l'Orange at Friendship Chinese restaurant last week. I get it there every time. I ask for a little red pepper flakes with it; so it's got a little heat with the sweet and salty. Granted, it's not french, but it's really freakin good.

Mar 21, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Hot Doug's: 2008

Great pics. I had a dream about Hot Doug's two nights ago and had to go yesterday for lunch. I always get the specialty sausages so this time I got a grilled Andouille (Salma Hayek) with all the trimmings. It was awesome. That was the first time I didn't have to wait outside, which made it much more pleasant.

Mar 20, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Sepia

I booked MK for my girlfriend's birthday. They have a 5-course tasting menu for $82, which I plan on doing. Anyone been to MK lately?

Mar 19, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Solo dining in Chicago...need a recommendation

I ate alone at Lula on Friday night, was seated right away, and had a really solid meal. It wasn't knock-your-socks-off spectacular but it's definitely worth a visit. It's in Logan Square, not far from Bucktown, and they have a bar in front that's great for a solo diner, but I chose to dine in the dining room which was totally pleasant. Definitely order off the specials menu if you go. http://www.lulacafe.com/

Mar 17, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Kitchen Supply Stores in Chicago?

I get my knives sharpened at the Northwestern Cutlery Supply Company www.nwcutlery.com. It's in the river west area, not near Hyde Park, but they definitely have what you're looking for.

Mar 16, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Deep Dish Debate

"As far as chains go:

I hate Giordano's

I Like Lou's, and Gino's

But then again I am a New Haven Style Coal Fire guy."

Yep. My thoughts exactly. I preferred Spacca Napoli to Coal Fire but for the money (BYO is great) Coal Fire wins.

Mar 14, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

High-end Mexican

I'll second the Sol de Mexico recommendation; their lamb chops in black mole are unbelievable. Their moles are truly remarkable. I've butted heads with people over it, but I would take a meal at Sol de Mexico over Topolobampo any day of the week even if costs were equal.

Mar 14, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Not your average business dinner

I think Sepia would be right up your alley. It has a much warmer feel then Blackbird, but still provides great food (albeit not quite as good IMO), and would compare favorably to Eastern Standard. www.sepiachicago.com Enjoy your trip!

Feb 25, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Restaurant Week

Thanks for the review Skinny. I have a reservation there on wednesday night, but after the report I'm not so amped. A group of us went to Naha on Saturday night and had a better experience. I started with a cured trout with caviar and brioche, which had a really clean flavor. Great starter. Then had the quail with bacon and polenta. This was pretty good, not outstanding. The quail was a little dry, but the concept was right up my alley. The pineapple tart with almond ice cream and coconut shavings was really good. I'm not a huge coconut fan and I really enjoyed it.

I'd have to say that the service was really solid and I felt that we were taken care of as we should have been. No real drop-off as far as that's concerned. I wouldn't rush back to Naha, as it didn't compare to Blackbird, Spring, Schwa, and One-sixty Blue in terms of other restaurants in that price range. Granted, the quality could have been down a little bit due to restaurant week pricing.

That was my 3rd restaurant visit for the two restaurant weeks and I'd have to say that I'm pretty pleased overall. Oceanique in Evanston was by-far the best. Everything, from the service to each dish was excellent. For instance, my girlfriend wanted a cheese plate instead of dessert, which I gladly said I would pay a surcharge for. Not only did I not get charged extra, but also she got one of the best cheese plates she had ever had (I tried a lot of it and it was great). That was my first time traveling to Evanston for a meal, but it certainly won't be my last thanks to Oceanique. That really should be the goal of restaurant week: to get people to return to spend more money.

Feb 25, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Restaurant Week?

Thanks for the link! I've heard great things about David Burke's, Naha, and Sushi Samba, and I'll likely try all 3 with the $31 deal ;)

Jan 17, 2008
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Good Eats in Cleveland

I want to confirm three recommendations that I would vote as "can't-miss' Cleveland establishments that I will hit over X-mas from Chicago:
1) Slyman's-> the best corned beef sandwich I've ever had, and likely will ever have.
2) Johnny's Bar on Fulton-> Very old school Italian. Gargantuan portions of really tasty Italian fare. A close second is Valerio's in Little Italy.
3) Flying Fig-> Really well-prepared, reasonably priced food. Not overly fussy. Simple ingredients put on display.

Cooking classes in Cleveland?

The Viking Store in Legacy Village offers classes. I thought they were a bit pricey, but I was a student at the time, so take that for what it's worth. The cool thing is that they bring in successful local chefs to instruct in these particular classes. Their website has a schedule of classes.

Thoughts on bonsoiree?

My lady and I went to Bonsoiree last Sunday for a 5-course dinner and it was a great experience. We brought a couple of bottles of wine, and the server was very attentive to the wine needs (well worth the $5 total corkage fee for 2 bottles). We started with an amuse bouche of duck confit wontons in a ponzu sauce. They were pretty solid. The ponzu and duck actually paired nicely and the wontons themselves were well-made.

For the first course we had a spicy tuna tartare with wasabi and maguro, served with a sesame chip. I thought the tuna was a bit underseasoned and not nearly as spicy as it's "spicy" designation. However, it was not unpleasant, and had really clean flavors.

Next we had a braised crispy pork belly with fig polenta with a fig ale sauce and haricot vert. This was the best pork belly I've ever had. It was like well-made bbq wrapped in a crispy crust. The fig polenta was a great creamy complement. This is not to be missed. Repeat, Pork Belly is a must!

The next course was a seared scallop with butternut squash ravioli. The scallop was prepared beautifully. A really nice sear and meaty rare interior. However, the dish seemed a bit disjointed, and the ravioli was a bit doughy. It was not bad, just a somewhat of a letdown after the pork belly.

For the 4th course we had a crispy sea bass with potatoes dauphinoise. This was a really well-put together dish. The sea bass was absolutely delicious, as were the potatoes, and they paired really nicely actually. One of the best dishes I've had in a long time (outside of the pork belly).

For dessert we had a great banana bread pudding. It was moist and not too sweet. It was a well-made bread pudding. We supplemented cheese as well for an additional cost, and the selections were really good. All in all, it was a great meal (under $100 before tip!). The setting is intimate and I think translates into romantic, if slightly loud. We really enjoyed it and will return undoubtedly very soon. Enjoy your meal!

Dec 07, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Sepia recently?

The "banquet" dilemma helped me choose Sepia from the beginning. Unlike most restaurants I called (I called several) Sepia is treating NYE as a regular dining experience, with their regular menu and no irregular surcharges. I don't know if the chef is an everyday chef, but the website states that the restaurant will be closed from January 1st-7th, so I'd be shocked if he wasn't cooking on December 31st. So that's a non-issue as well. I'll report back after the visit, and thanks for the responses. Cheers!

Dec 05, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Sepia recently?

I've been wanting to try Sepia since I've moved to Chicago and just made reservations for New Years. Several other people have put their trust in me for this, so I'm hoping that it will be good. I've read some mixed reviews, but overall, it seems like a really good restaurant that's not too pricey. Anyone who has been within the last 2 months care to chime in with their experiences?

Dec 01, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Can't-miss dinner with $20-25 entrees?

I think entrees were in the $25-35 range. A guest and I did the tasting menu, which I think was $75 pp. We had several bottles of wine, and it came out to around $250 after tax and tip, but if you did 2 entrees, an appetizer each, and shared dessert you could make budget even with a bottle of moderately priced wine. Spring is a great restaurant with modern elements and a Japanese influenced, seafood-centered menu. Based on your critera I would go there.

Nov 29, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Can't-miss dinner with $20-25 entrees?

Spring fits your bill pretty well. You may be slightly pressed to keep your budget, but it is modern and the food is superb. I really like the food at Blackbird and One Sixtyblue as well. I preferred Blackbird based on the crowd. One Sixtyblue was full of 60 year old men with 20 year old escorts on both occasions I was there. The food was great, but it just didn't feel comfortable based on the environs. Blackbird is noisy and a bit cramped but the food was so good and I had a great meal there. I would second that one. I haven't been to Aigre Doux, but it's on my short list. Perhaps someone would chime in as I've heard great things.

Nov 28, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Charleston Bound! Advice Needed

J Bistro is closed and Cypress is very overpriced for good, not outstanding, food. "The Best" would probably be McCrady's or the Charleston Grill. They are both amazing, and I would place either as tops in Charleston. I haven't been back to the Woodlands after they changed chefs but I had an amazing meal there as well.

I just got back from Charleston today and my visit to Basil was truly underwhelming. The 3-flavor fish, pad thai, and basil rolls were good, but the duck, tom kha gai soup, and curries were not. I would skip it. La Fourchette was really enjoyable. I had cassoulet, lamb, frites, and some salume. It was all really good. If you like BBQ, I went out to the Hickory Hawg on John's Island and had some really good cue. The pulled pork was decent but the ribs were amazing. Some of the best ribs I've ever had. Period. They were smoky, tender with just a little give before they fell right off the bone. The ambiance was pretty terrible, as its in a shopping center and it shows, but trust this, you will have amazing ribs there. For ambiance, I did a lunch at VIckery's on the water in Mt. Pleasant because the weather was warm. The food was just alright, but man, is that a good view on that back porch. Another really good meal was at Atlanticville on Sullivans Island. I was really surprised how good the food was. The fried green tomato napoleon was spot on. The tuna rolls were good too for appetizers. I had the scallops for my entree and they were cooked perfectly and delicious. I had a really good burger at Poe's on Sullivans Island as well, the Amontillado. The only miss of the trip was Pane Vino, an Italian restaurant downtown. I had a good meal there before, but this time the menu was really boring and not well executed. Coupled with that, the waitress kept having spit come out of her mouth when she talked, which grossed me out to say the least. Hate to end on a bad note, but that's the way it goes. Enjoy your trip. Chances are you'll eat well.

What to do with Turkey Stock

Turkey stock would provide for a tasty mushroom risotto. I'd use chanterelles or porcinis maybe.

Nov 18, 2007
chucktowneater in Home Cooking

Butternut Squash Soup

I made some the other day, and for the record, I will never be "over" good food.

1) Get a dutch over and saute carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme and season
2) Slice the butternut squash in half and add all of the entrails (seeds, pulp, etc. an ice cream scooper works perfectly)
3) Add the squash to the sweating veg and cook until seeds start turning golden
4) Add 3 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade) stir and let simmer for about half an hour
5) Put the squash halves skin side down (meat up) on top of the mixture, cover and put into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes (steams the squash and imparts squash flavor)
6) Remove the squash and let cool
7) Strain the liquid through a fine chinoise or fine strainer (Make sure to press to get all of that squash flavor in the pulp and seeds) into a blender
8) Dice the squash and add to the blender (this will be messy) and reserve some shredded pieces for texture
9) Blend, add heavy cream and season to taste

Nov 15, 2007
chucktowneater in Home Cooking

Tomato Paste in a Tube???

I would second Joanw2002. I buy tomato paste in a can and freeze the leftovers in little cylinders. It really doesn't hurt the quality of the paste to freeze them.

Nov 08, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Help, No More Farmers

Markets and I need mushrooms. Chantererelles, trumpets, the whole shebang. Anyone know where I can get the same quality shrooms that I was getting at the farmers markets? Thanks in advance

Oct 31, 2007
chucktowneater in Chicago Area

Carb-Free, I Can't Stay

Thanks everyone. I ended up making kind of a chicken stir fry. I grilled some red peppers and asparagus. Then I sauteed the chicken in some olive oil, deglazed with white wine and added some nice grain mustard and garlic. Then I added the peppers and asparagus in with the chicken and finished it in the oven. It was pretty tasty. Thanks for the input...this south beach thing is tricky. I'm definitely going to try some white bean mash at some point and the other recipes named. Thanks again. The chowhound posse is amazing.

Oct 25, 2007
chucktowneater in Home Cooking