l

LudBag's Profile

Title Last Reply

Reasonably priced bistro dinners in Chicago?

If you're willing to cab it to a different neighborhood, I'd also recommend Chez Joel on Taylor Street. Very quaint and cozy family-owned bistro with traditional French fare. You also can't go wrong with the other bistros already mentioned.
http://chezjoelbistro.com/

Sep 27, 2010
LudBag in Chicago Area

Bartolotta Blues

Thanks for the feedback. I can definitely appreciate that. Luckily, our meal the night before Bartolotta, on New Year's Eve, at Craftsteak was phenomenal (I love their short ribs) and we didn't suffer because of the crowds.

Jan 26, 2009
LudBag in Southwest

Best place to eat in Bellagio?

I'm going to see 'O' for the second time and was looking to eat somewhere in Bellagio afterwards. I don't have a budget in mind but I don't think any of us want any tasting menus...not sure if this eliminates Michael Mina, Picasso, etc. I'm interested to hear people's opinions on the best restaurant in Bellagio? Also, thoughts on Sensi and Prime (I only ask because I haven't heard as much about them as some of the other restaurants there)?

Thanks for your help!

Jan 26, 2009
LudBag in Southwest

Bartolotta Blues

I thought my post was fairly clear that my experience had little to do with the food and more to do with the terrible service. Not getting fish is besides the point and yes, I do realize they are known for their fresh fish...as noted in my review we made the conscious decision to not order fish as no one was in the mood. I don't think the service would have been any different had we ordered fish.

Jan 26, 2009
LudBag in Southwest

Bartolotta Blues

I dined at Bartolotta on New Year’s Day with three other people. I was really excited to eat here after hearing great things about it. We had reservations and there was a short wait before we were seated but the hostess was very cordial and I didn’t mind the wait at all. So far, so good.

From there, everything more or less went downhill. The one drink at the bar was probably the highlight of the dinner (if I absolutely had to pick a highlight). From the moment we sat at our table, we were pretty much invisible. It took a long time for anyone to even come over and acknowledge we had just been seated for dinner. Finally our server, Flavio, greeted us. I chose not to get a drink at the bar and not once did he ask if I wanted a drink. He was so rushed in his delivery that I didn’t even have a chance to order a drink. From the time we were seated, I’d say it took 25-30 minutes before he even came out with the fresh fish options and explained the menu, how to order the fish, etc.

We all were craving a heavy dose of carbs so we chose to not order any fish and get a lot of pastas (with the exception of the hen). Between the four of us, here’s what we ate:

-Cocotte di parmigiano-reggiano (warm parmigianno-reggiano custard, wild mushrooms)
-Insalata di carciofi, porcini, ruchetta e pecorino sardo (sauteed artichokes and porcini mushrooms, wilted arugula, Sardinian pecorino)
-Lasagnette con ragu di crostacei (rags of pasta, lobster, shrimp, langoustines, crab, white wine, tomato)
-Spaghetti all’astice (spaghetti with rock lobster, spicy tomato sauce, white wine)
-Gnocchi di patate con fonduta di pomodoro (potato gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce, butter, parmigiano-reggiano)
-Maccheroni alla chitarra al ragu Toscano (hand-rolled thick spaghetti with Tuscan meat sauce)
-Risotto ai frutti di mare (risotto with clams, scallops, shrimp, langoustines, calamari)…ordered off the tasting menu
-Faraona alla Riviera Ligure (Ligurian style roast guinea hen, artichokes, asparagus, porcini, taggiasca olives, lemon-herb sauce)

Not only did the food take a long time to actually get, it was only lukewarm as if it had been sitting out for awhile. On top of that, I watched every other table get offered fresh parmesan while no one approached our table. They also messed up our order and we were short one gnocchi (we ordered 2). I completely understand how our order might have been confusing since 3 people ordered 2 pastas and one of us changed their pasta at the last minute, however the server could have easily confirmed the order with us. I’m sure they’ve gotten parties much larger than 4 that have ordered multiple pastas.

When we were finished eating, again it took an insane amount of time for them to clear off our plates…another lengthy wait until the server came back with the dessert menus (which by the way, our server suddenly stopped coming to our table and someone else took his place). I can’t stress how terrible the service was and how rude our server was. I think each of us only had one drink—they never asked to get any of us another one nor were they around much for the opportunity to do so. I really felt like our table was being singled out as I watched our server attend to other tables, offer fresh parm, pepper, the works. I just had the impression that we didn’t “make the grade” for a reason I cannot fathom. The four of us are on the younger side and probably look even younger than our ages however that shouldn’t equate to poor service. I was almost wondering if he thought we couldn’t afford the bill. The kicker is, we ended up only tipping 10% so at the end of the day, we probably just confirmed in his mind that we were punks who shouldn’t have been eating there. I don’t think I have ever tipped below 15% and 20% is almost always standard but I felt that strongly about how awful our experience was. I have also never contacted a restaurant before but I am seriously contemplating it—it’s 3 weeks later and this dinner still gets me worked up.

I’ll mention the food only briefly. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means but I can think of much better Italian restaurants both in Vegas and home (Chicago). I thought the gnocchi was probably the best of the pastas ordered and everything else was just average. I love ragu’s and was very disappointed in this one. Maybe I would have felt differently if the food was hot. I can’t comment on the fish since we didn’t order it. Eating out and having just okay food doesn’t get me fired up but eating at a nice establishment with the absolute worst service makes me ill and is unforgivable. I’d rate the service better at Maggiano’s by a landslide based on my experience.

I really hope this was a fluke and Flavio was just having an off night but I certainly would never recommend this place or give another penny to this restaurant. I take back what I said earlier—the highlight for me was leaving the restaurant.

Jan 23, 2009
LudBag in Southwest

Grant Burge Meschach

I have been desperately looking to purchase a Grant Burge Meschach for a Christmas gift this year and am having an extremely hard time finding an online wine retailer that delivers in the U.S.

Anybody have any success or know where I can find this? I'm open to several vintages. Thanks!

Dec 10, 2008
LudBag in Wine

Ko Olina--anything noteworthy?

Hi, I'm staying at the JW Marriott at Ko Olina next week and am having a difficult time researching the area. Am I making a mistake staying over here?

Any recommendations for lunch or dinner? Any price range or atmosphere will do. Thanks!

Nov 19, 2008
LudBag in Hawaii

Sunday Night in Chicago

Just thought of one more place I've recently eaten at and enjoyed: Graham Elliott (former chef of Avenues). I ate here the second week it opened and would recommend it. I'd say it has a couple of tweaks to work out on the menu but I imagine the place will only get better with time and I would definitely go back.

Jul 28, 2008
LudBag in Chicago Area

Sunday Night in Chicago

Avec is good, as everyone has said, but I think there are a number of other restaurants that deserve trying over this (assuming you're not going to go the pizza route). I would recommend Table Fifty-Two, Art Smith's restaurant. Reservations are difficult to come by but they are open Sunday nights. BTW--I was fortunate enough to dine at L2O Saturday night and it is a top-notch operation. I would advise that if you're not a diehard seafood lover, then you probably would like Tru better as you'll get a better mix of everything. Almost every dish (outside of the desserts) has fish in it. Pork belly (which was amazing) was the only non-seafood dish we had that night.

You might want to also look into C-House in the Affinia Hotel, Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant. I haven't presonally eaten there but am definitely itching to try it. I recently ate at Graham Elliott (former chef of Avenues) and highly recommend it as well. Enjoy your stay in Chicago.

Jul 28, 2008
LudBag in Chicago Area

Pancetta and Hominy Polenta

Has anyone cooked this yet? While the flavor turned out okay, I could not get the polenta to thicken enough. Well after 25 minutes had passed, it still was a bit soupy. Any thoughts here?

Dec 03, 2007
LudBag in Recipes

Beef Tenderloin with Pancetta and Hominy Polenta

I cooked this tonight using the reserved pancetta fat and it was excellent. I used an All-Clad square grille pan to cook the tenderloin and loved the "grill" marks on the meat.

Dec 03, 2007
LudBag in Recipes

How, when, must I make reservations in Rome?

I second that...reserve ASAP!!!! I am going to Italy for my first time in mid-November and many of my top choices were already booked up. I reserved at Chechhino just this week--they responded within 24 hours when I booked through their website. Good luck!

Oct 11, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Osso Buco Forks

A silly question but I have looked at multiple places--BBB, LNT, etc.--for those really tiny forks that restaurants give you to get the marrow out of the veal shank but haven't had any success yet. Workers inevitably lead me to some variety of seafood utensils or cocktail forks (which are still a little too big). Thanks in advance.

Oct 10, 2007
LudBag in Cookware

Weekend Recs (Loop Area)

When I saw "crafted" cocktails I immediately thought of Otom, the sister (but quite different) restaurant of Moto. It's a bit on the edge of the Loop in the meat-packing/West Loop area on Fulton Market. They have a very extensive list of specialty drinks all with unique and creative presentations...I had 4 in about an hour and a half and had to cut myself off. I'm not sure how late it is open until but Fulton Lounge is two doors down on the corner so you could always head there after.

Oct 09, 2007
LudBag in Chicago Area

For Chicagoan's, What restaurant is on top of your list to try?

Sepia
Table Fifty-Two
Crust
Moto
Mas
Chalkboard

Oct 09, 2007
LudBag in Chicago Area

Suggestions for resturant for romantic dinner

Very sorry to hear that North Pond is booked up. I really believe it is the most romantic spot in Chicago but that certainly doesn't mean you can't find something equally special. Some other options to consider: Aigre Doux, Blackbird or maybe Le Lan. Le Lan is French/Asian. Depending on your idea of romantic, Blackbird may or may not fit the bill. I know some people don't like how close the tables are to each other...you will feel like you're a part of the conversations on either side of you. All of these restaurants will run about the same price as North Pond and have excellent food. Good luck on your planning!

Oct 09, 2007
LudBag in Chicago Area

Thoughts on Piperno

Thanks for the feedback. I am a little worried about your comment, "not as expensive as Agata e Romeo." How expensive are we talking here? We haven't exactly set ourselves a strict budget but I also don't want to be blown out of the water when we get our bill. I always like to have an idea of cost just so I'm not thrown way off guard. Thanks!

Oct 04, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Restaurant Reservation Help

You don't happen to have their email do you? I can't for the life of me find it...I would be forever grateful!

Oct 04, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Thoughts on Piperno

My boyfriend and I will be in Rome for 3 nights in November and still need a place for our Saturday night meal. So far...

Friday - Agata e Romeo
Saturday - ??
Sunday - Al Ceppo

I was thinking about Piperno for Saturday night after striking out at both La Pergola and Il Convivio when I tried to make reservations. I have searched the boards for comments on Piperno, however I didn't find any recent, thorough reviews...just some general (all positive) comments and MUCH praise about their artichokes. If anybody's been recently and can elaborate on Roman Jewish food I would very much appreciate it. Also, how much will a meal cost for two here? If anybody has a different idea to round out the 2 restaurants above I would appreciate any other suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Oct 03, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Recs for Italy trip

Hi RomeAddict, I am going to hold you to your recommedation for La Fiammetta. I'll be there in mid-November. Can you tell me a little more about the restaurant...casual, price range, reservations recommended, etc? Thanks for your help!

Oct 02, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Vineyard/Wine Tours in Tuscany?

I will be in Tuscany in mid-November and am looking to visit some vineyards. I have not firmed up the itinerary yet so I am really open to any area of Tuscany. I will have a car. I looked into the Fattoria dei Barbi, however I am under the impression that you only visit the cellars. With that said, I am more interested in a tour that will allow you to walk on the actual grounds and also focuses on the viticulture. If anyone can recommend any vineyards or recount any experiences from their travels, I would be grateful.

Sep 28, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Restaurant Reservation Help

Thanks for your input mbfant. I could have probably chosen a better adjective than "high-end." I'm just looking for the best of the best and whether the place has a high-end, stuffy feel or a casual, lively vibe I really could care less. To be honest, after reading so so many posts all over the Italy boards I'm beyond confused I feel like I'm running in circles trying to pick restaurants. At this point, I'm exhausted and I just want to 1) be in Italy and 2) pick restaurants out of a hat!

Sep 28, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Restaurant Reservation Help

This is more of a general question but I need reservation advice. I'm going to be in Italy in November and would like to eat at 2 or 3 of the high-end restaurants but I'm having trouble making reservations. Do most restaurants take reservations via email? Due to the obvious language barrier, I would prefer this option. So far the only one I have actually contacted is La Pergola and unfortunately, they are already booked so now I am panicking that I won't get in to any of my top choices. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!

Just in case, the two that are definitely on my list so far are Alle Testiere and Cracco Peck.

Sep 27, 2007
LudBag in Italy

Otom Review

I stumbled across this post, interested to hear what others thought of Otom. I have heard mixed, mediocre reviews so far. I live on Fulton, a few blocks from Otom, so naturally I had to check it out, having walked by it every morning with my dog.

We started off with the Thai curry mussels with snap peas and coconut. The dish was good but I feel like I've had something similar at several other restaurants. For entrees, my sister had the sauteed grouper with crimson lentils, rapini & caper berries. Boy was this bland, we were both very disappointed. Luckily, the short rib ravioli that everyone else has praised, more than made up for the uninspiring fish. I would for sure order the ravioli again.

For dessert, we ordered the banana split "lollipops." I thought they were really good and appreciated the creativity. I wanted to order more!

I can't really comment on the service since we sat at the bar but I will say that one of the bartenders was extremely unfriendly. Considering we had 6 drinks plus the meal above, I can't believe how poor his attitude was. Speaking of drinks, they have an extensive drink menu, all with fun garnishes. Between my sister and I, we tried 4 of the specialty drinks and they were all excellent...the sort of alcoholic drink that can lead to trouble since they taste like candy (Flight of the Concorde tastes like grape Kool-Aid).

Though the food didn't absolutely blow me away, I will definitely be coming back to try some of their other dishes and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere. I also would come back just to grab drinks.

Sep 27, 2007
LudBag in Chicago Area

Need opionions on Dolce on Melrose..

I agree with the other reviews: nice atmosphere (though very dark), forgettable food. The wait staff and sommelier were extremely nice and the restaurant didn't feel pretentious. I had one of the specials, buffalo, which was decent but nothing great. My boyfriend had the osso bucco which he enjoyed as well. Though the food was good, it wasn't outstanding. The food alone would certainly never bring me back; there are plenty of other restaurants in the area with better food fare.

Apr 30, 2007
LudBag in Los Angeles Area