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Everything posted by Pugman

  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
  16. I ate at Green Zebra on Saturday (first time since October) and my friend and I agreed that it was by far the best meal we've eaten there (we went there a lot during their first year). Three dishes in particluar were amazing: parsnip panna cotta (why aren't parsnips more popular?), Creamy cauliflower agnolotti with black truffles (a dish worthy of any 4-star restaurant) and butternut squash gnocchi. The skate wing was also delicious. I think GZ is definitely on the must-visit list for out-of-towners. I also had another excellent lunch at Custom House last week. I really like their "haute comfo
  17. Have you been? Alinea is far more than hocus-pocus. It is great food presented extremely well in a very fine atmosphere. It also has a lot of humor, which is something I think a lot of people do not understand. You are correct, though Robyn, a lot of people share that opinion - mostly those who haven't been. The same is true for El Bulli. Of course there are those who have been who fel that it isn't worth the hype. If people are not into having an open mind with the food that is served they will not like either place. if people are into creativity and willing to explore with an open mind, it i
  18. It's always sad to see a landmark close or morph into something else (a la Marshall Field's), but the I don't think the food at The Berghoff is all that good. When I ate there a few months back, the food seemed devoid of any passion whatsoever; almost like what I would expect at an Epcot "German-Themed" restaurant. As with the Walnut Room, I think the memories are probably better than the current realities. Sorry if I'm cold and unsentimental; perhaps I'd have a different take if I didn't grow up elsewhere. I also think the media coverage of this "closure" is way overblown, especially since it
  19. My Wish List for Chicagoland: 1. In N Out Burger (multple locations) 2. In lieu of the above, a Paradise Pup that's open evenings and Sundays. 3. Upscale-ish authentic Chinese food (but not $$$$ like Shanghai Terrace). 4. "Babbo Chicago"--a New York transplant that we'd love. Instead we got Bluewater Grill and China Grill. Ugh. 5. Vietnamese food in the N/NW suburbs. (This might be my number one wish.) 6. Upscale/contemporary Scandanavian restaurant like Gustav Anders in SoCal or Aquavit in NYC. Maybe a fine-dining place on one side of the restaurant and an authentic smorgasbord on the other (
  20. My 2006 top 10 dining wish list: 1. Winter: Alinea; to fight the cold-weather blues 2. Spring: Alinea; dining goddess' birthday 3. Summer: Alinea; my birthday 4. Fall: Alinea; early Christmas present 5. Moto because for some reason I haven't been yet 6. Schwa because people I trust have said great things about it 7. Carlos', a 4-star place that I've somehow skipped over 8. Omakase at Meiji 9. TRU because it's been far too long since my last meal there 10. Charlie Trotter's because Della Gossett's desserts are rapturous. 2005 best meal of the year: last week at Alinea; 12-course (actually 15)
  21. It's "Do It Yourself," because there's no actual listed truffle menu. HERO? I feel like the father from "The Incredibles" when he was trying to squeeze into his superhero costume. My pug was oinking at me yesterday. I thought he was having a respiratory attack, but I think it was just his commentary on dad's December gluttony. Maybe I should go to a really cheap sushi bar for some tapeworm maki. Or just eat less. Yeah, right.
  22. OK, we're not talking about a bunch of Alba truffles shaved over your food, but I had a perfectly delightful meal at Trio Atelier on Saturday which turned out to have truffles in almost every course: the killer white truffle chiffon that's been on the menu since Atelier began; a 6-mushroom risotto with black truffle; truffled gnocchi with oxtail (too good); and a "honey" dessert trio which featured baklava with truffled honey. We also had a Kobe-style skirt steak and the must-have french fries with wasabi caviar dip. And some other desserts, and...(well, you get the pig-chur). If I lived close
  23. Ditto on Ron's picks, plus Custom House (newest from acclaimed Green Zebra/Spring chef/owner, Shawn McClain). It's my new favorite lunch spot! I went yesterday and am going back today. Also, Naha in River North--$$$$ fine dining in the evening, but serves an amazing burger at lunch (perfect fries, too). An absolute steal for $10.
  24. The Berkshire pork at Mitsuwa is excellent; nothing better for Tonkatsu! And the price seems very reasonable. Thanks for letting us know about their butcher. I wanted to order some larger Wagyu steaks (the ones in the meat case are always sized for healthy Japanese meals), but I never asked. But now I will!
  25. A co-worker and I had a really terrific lunch at Custom House today. We had lentil/ham soup with mini gnocchi, striped bass bedded on a bit of potato puree and served w/ a truffle emulsion (IIRC), smoky bacon/brie tartine, and a side of escarole. Everything was very good, but the bass was stellar; simply prepared with very crispy skin and moist inside. Perfect--and a steal for $13. Gimmick-free, delicious food made with top-notch ingredients. What's better than that? Lunch prices are reasonable, especially for such a swanky place; with 2 iced teas, the bill was $43. Next time, I will need to l
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