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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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  1. Very cool, Alex. They are doing an excellent job.
  2. By the way, I've relaxed my usual carb restrictions because we've walked a lot and I've clearly lost weight.
  3. Now that the National Flute Association convention, which I was attending, has ended, I have a chance to do my first installment of a report on our dining experiences in Chicago so far. We have been to Sociale (800 South Clark St.) twice. The first time, we went on an off hour, around 4:30 on Thursday. The second time was today a bit after 6. We consider this place special and worth it for a bit of a splurge. For our first meal there, we split an order of seared Faroe island salmon filet on a bed of sauteed spinach, chopped garlic, oven dried tomatoes, pan fried red skin potatoes with caper beurre blanc ($30) and two separate sides of wood roasted Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon, lemon aioli and migas ($12) and wood roasted wild mushrooms, chives, herbs and white truffle essence ($10). I had a glass of the chardonnay from Daou in Paso Robles ($13) and my girlfriend had a Tarrica pinot noir ($12). The salmon was completely fresh, with crispy skin and seared to a perfect degree and the accompaniments and sauce were delicious. The mushrooms actually seemed to me like thin-sliced creminis, but the sauce was wonderful and we loved that side. The Brussels sprouts were good, though a bit chewy, and to me, the outside leaves were a bit too charred, but I know that's popular. Both wines were good but the pinot noir was special, and we will search it out in a wine store in the future. Our second meal at Sociale consisted of the pickled heirloom beet salad, mixed field greens, goat cheese, pine nuts, pickled red onions and orange blossom honey vinaigrette ($12), the boneless wagyu ribeye steak with spicy scallion chimichurri sauce ($35) and the apricot chocolate croissant bread pudding, anejo caramel, candied pecans and vanilla gelato ($10). Everything was great. We got the wagyu medium rare, which was perfect. We both had glasses of Daou cabernet sauvignon with the meal ($16), which had nice complexity and went very well with the steak. [Edited to add a picture of the bread pudding.] Service was excellent both times, and the waitresses consulted with the bartender about what wines would go best with the meal. We're already thinking about going back on our next trip to Chicago, whenever that is. Yesterday, we had dinner at The Gage (24 South Michigan Avenue) before going to a concert at Grant Park. We were rushed, so we asked for our salad and main course, both of which we shared, to be served simultaneously, and we still ended up missing part of the first movement of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto, which was played splendidly by Christian Tetzlaff and the Grant Park Orchestra. Our service was very gracious, and the food was delicious but definitely pricy. We got the Gage Caesar - romaine heart, broken Caesar dressing, brioche crouton, anchovy, Parmesan ($15) and the pan seared Alaskan halibut, pea tendrils, English pea, fingerling potato, spring onion, dill, lemon beurre blanc ($38), The sauce for the halibut was so good that the two of us, who usually don't like peas, liked them pretty well, especially as they were not raw but not mushy. The halibut was perfectly fresh. The Caesar was great and was a revelation to my girlfriend, who had never had a Caesar salad nearly that good and actually liked the anchovy, which she usually hates (I didn't get an anchovy but enjoyed the taste it imparted). My girlfriend, who favors red wines, had a Land of Saints pinot noir ($15), a delicious wine, but we agreed that that was a mistake to order with a delicate white fish, and I had a House of Brown Chardonnay ($16), which I was very happy with. No pictures because we were both really hungry and also in a rush. We think The Gage is a great restaurant, but if one person has a full meal there (app or salad, main, dessert, wine), that would be an expensive proposition, indeed. The other noteworthy eating experience we've had so far is a trip to Kilwins Chocolates, Fudge & Ice Cream ( 310 S. Michigan Ave) with a friend who was in the chorus for the Vaughan Williams "Dona Nobis Pacem" after the concert. I got a waffle cone of the chocolate shredded coconut and pralines ($10.79), my girlfriend got toasted coconut and butter pecan in a cup ($10.29), and our friend got a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough ($7.29). The scoops are humongous! They offer half scoops, which might be a good idea if you want to have more than one flavor. Anyway, we were all really happy with the flavors we got, and in particular, I liked that they use pretty dark chocolate, but this is pretty dense soft serve ice cream and fills you up easily. No photos - handling ice cream is messy! - but I recommend the place, although, I wouldn't have the blue ice cream. 🙂 We're tempted to go back for some fudge or a milkshake.
  4. I just checked reservations for Frontera Grill, and they are booked solid at least through the end of September for 2. Do you all know whether they keep any tables open for walkins? I think we may end up doing takeout from them if they are really booked solid and we don't luck out with any cancellations.
  5. Thanks, kayb. Yeah, a crab house is probably not so great to get takeout to a hotel from. 🙂
  6. Yes, the Hilton I'm talking about is the one on Michigan across from Grant Park. Thanks so much for all the recommendations! I'll look more on LTH, too. Seating next to an open window might be OK.
  7. Hi, everyone! My girlfriend and I will be staying at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile, 660 N State St at West Erie, and for the first 4 days, I'll be attending a conference at the Hilton on the Loop. If any of you have recommendations for delicious restaurants of any cuisine where we can sit outside (or failing that, takeout is possible) and get lunch for around $30 per person or less (not including drinks - we hardly ever have alcohol before dinner) or $50 per person or less for dinner. I realize that's a broad question, but we have quite broad tastes except that we hate raw shellfish (except for uni - go figure!), so we're open to almost any cuisine, very much including American (a diner where we could get breakfast as a change from some yogurt or raw vegetables we buy in a supermarket might come in handy, too). Also, as a wild card, we might take a day trip to the Polish neighborhood on the Northwest Side, because both of us have some Polish ancestry, so if you know any particularly excellent Polish restaurants up there, let me know.
  8. That meal at Frontera Grill looked great, and they have outdoor dining on their patio. I'll be in Chicago from August 10-27. Do you all think it'll be hard to get reservations for two there for their patio, and did you like your meal there better than at Tzuco, which looks a bit more expensive?
  9. I didn't know those would grow outside the tropics. I still haven't gone. I have to lose some weight first. 🙂
  10. Thanks (I think; my potbelly may not be so thankful) for alerting me to this place. Oddly, I couldn't find location info on their site, but per Eater: 322 East Ninth Street, between First and Second Avenues. The Eater article also mentioned https://www.kuihcafe.com/, 46 Eldridge St. Have you tried their kuih?
  11. I walked past the Soho location of La Pecora Bianca yesterday (no time to deviate and walk down Lafayette St. to look at the other restaurants we've discussed above). They have a nice outdoor setup. How's the food, and are the mains large enough to be reasonably shareable (which cuts down on costs)?
  12. Nice menu, and not expensive for the location we're discussing.
  13. Sure, I'll have a look at their menu and setup, too. Thanks for the thought.
  14. Thanks, Eatmywords! It's been a few years since I went to Ai Fiore, where I had one spectacular meal and two very good meals. I had a really tasty light dinner at Osteria Morini several years ago. I'll try to walk past them today and see what their outdoor setup is like. Marea was a little lost on me; I found it a little too sort of self-consciously corporate in atmosphere and I preferred the food at the others.
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