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  1. "Hank" Adaniya is one of the coolest dudes in the biz. I can't wait to try his dogs in a few days (my Hawaiian vacation is timed just perfectly). I hope he gets a lot of press...what a great story to tell. KHON's website has a 4 1/2 minute segment featuring Hank and his authentic Chicago dog...this Chicagoan says it definitely looks like the real deal. Also, if his twice-fried fries are as good in Hawaii as they were at his restaurant in Illinois, you're in for a real treat.
  2. I've been to Napa Rose 6 or 7 times in the past 12 months (and numerous times prior). I live in Chicago, but go to OC often and I always try to eat at NR at least once per trip. (I was also a fan of Chef Sutton when he was at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.) Other than Bluefin by Abe in Crystal Cove, Napa Rose is my favorite high-end place in OC. The food is creative without being prententious and the ingredients seem to be top-notch. The sweetbread appetizer was in my top 5 dishes of 2006--and I eat out every day. The wine list is quite good, with interesting and plentiful (but expensive) o
  3. I just had this dessert a few minutes ago and, as I told my server, it was "ridiculously, obscenely good." The last time I had sticky toffee pudding was in Atlantic City last year and it was horrible. In the legendary Trio's early days, Gale Gand had it on the menu and it was, of course, quite wonderful. But Aigre Doux's rendition is not only the best I've ever tasted, it's one of the best desserts I've ever eaten in Chicago (and as my waistline will attest...I eat A LOT of desserts). My savory courses--a roasted beet salad and shortribs--were also excellent. My short list of first-rate non-s
  4. Then they must be serving real caviar - as in sturgeon/paddlefish, instead of tobiko and trout roe. ← It is now an all-sturgeon assortment, apparently. Rick's caviar staircases are also being featured at their new RT Lounge at the Westin North Shore in Wheeling (including less expensive options with flavored roe). I think the price range is $65-$125. The sushi chef said caviar service should start this week (they opened just a few days ago). BTW, the RT Lounge is excellent: no fake wasabi powder; a good balance of trendy and traditional sashimi, nigiri and maki; and the home of my new fav
  5. I've been to all except Seasons, and unless something at Arun's has changed dramatically for the better in the last couple years (especially from a service standpoint), it does seem to be a questionable selection, especially considering some other places that were not awarded the highest marks (Carlos' and Spiaggia come to mind immediately).
  6. I've been to Osteria di Tramonto 5 times already. It has quickly become my favorite close-to-home restaurant. Everything I've tried has been good or even exceptional...I've had the wild mushroom risotto twice and it has been perfect. Boneless beef shortribs atop parsnip puree was pure melt-in-your mouth comfort food. I've also enjoyed their salumi, some of which is house-cured (apparently more and more of it will be). The all-Italian wine program, headed by Belinda Chang (ex-Trotter's, ex-Fifth Floor) is stunning...absolutely brilliant, with great things at EVERY price point (as in $4/glass,
  7. Two places with great meat dishes and inventive veggies--and outstanding desserts--are Custom House and Naha. CH's roasted quail with parsnips appetizer and the shortrib entree with horseradish cream puffs are ridiculously good. Custom House's pastry chef, Elissa Narow, previously worked at Trio and Blackbird. At CH the desserts are on the "comforting" side rather than really edgy but her execution is meticulous--real dedication to perfection. Her hot pumpkin doughnuts and maple ice cream is my current addiction. Simple and amazing. I just had lunch at Naha today and it must be the season fo
  8. Lots of really good suggestions, but many of these places aren't downtown, so it could be something of a hassle (and added expense) if they're staying in Mag Mile, River North, or Loop. I second Star of Siam. It's pretty good and super cheap for being in the high-rent district. My only criticism is that the preparation of the dishes isn't always consistent. It great about 80% of the time and really "off" other times. The low prices and generally excellent food make it worth the (minor) risk, however. I've eaten there many, many times. Quartino (an enoteca at State and Ontario) would be a great
  9. YUM!!! I can't wait to try it. A "TRU" friend has been saying wonderful things about Chef Gras's new contributions. Our dining scene just keeps getting better and better.
  10. Did anyone else watch this episode? SPOILERS BELOW I thought Rick and Gale represented well, but wasn't surprised that Batali won - the judges seemed to prefer his big flavors to the more subtle ones they presented. But 7 dishes was pretty impressive, and Gale's caramel spring was oh-so-cool. One of the only things I like about Iron Chef America vs Iron Chef Japan is that I can or have actually eaten at the challengers restaurants. So it was cool to see them serving risotto in a little copper pot, cause I've eaten risotto out of a little copper pot at Tru. And the betta fish bowl - isn't
  11. Based on my two experiences, this is surprising. u.e. ← Based on my experiences at Alinea, it isn't surprising at all. =R= ← Agreed. My service at Alinea has been superb.
  12. I've heard reports that the full tour can be done in under four hours (but probably not by much). You can do the standard wine pairing and just ask them to upgrade one or two of the selections if they seem appealing. I've never been disappointed with any of the wine pairings...their "standards" are high. My advice is to go for the early seating... the heavier dishes won't appear until more of a "normal" dinner hour and you'll be finishing up dessert around 9:00-9:30.
  13. Similar to Ronnie's... Alinea All 3 shawn McClain Places (Spring/Green Zebra/Custom House) Le Francais Tru Topolobampo
  14. I really like Quartino, too. I go there at least once a week. On Friday 3 of us had wonderful fried smelt, tricolore salad, caponata, duck prosciutto, a sausage pizza, gnocchi, arugala and orange salad, 2 glasses of wine and an ice tea. With tax and tip it was less than $25/person! Of my numeorus visits, there have only been a few misses: one really bad risotto (tasted of sausage grease and was way too soupy), one overcooked/oversalted pasta and one time the caponata was also way oversalted. The rest of the time (representing dozens of indiviual dishes), the food has been really good. Their s
  15. Less than 2 weeks until Trio's farwell reception...very sad, but it sounds like they're going out in style. Based on some firsthand and near-firsthand info, it looks like most--but not all--of Trio's superstar chefs past and present will be participating, representing every phase of Trio. It will be a walkaround reception and should be a lively event (if bittersweet for many). I purposefully didn't ask who was preparing what, because I want to be surprised. I have it on good authority that "Trio 2" (the Shawn McClain iteration) will be represented by his signature scallops and oxtail. What ab
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