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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Pan

  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.
  15. I may see if my cousin wants to come over to my place, where I have an air filter that filters out Sars-COv2 viruses...Thanks.
  16. Katja would be good. Their space is open, not behind closed doors? I'm glad you haven't gotten COVID, and of course I hope you'll be able to do whatever you want and not get sick, but it's your choice how much risk you want to take. I have one friend who's gotten COVID 3 times!
  17. I haven't been to Hearth for ages. Thanks for the suggestion. Do they have outdoor dining? I think they're a little too expensive for this group, though. A prix fixe is normally problematic for me because even if it's not too much food (my girlfriend and I often share an app, a main and a side), I try to be low-carb.
  18. I'm looking at Forsythia's sample dinner menu. Do they serve only prix fixes?
  19. That pasta does look good. I'll look them up. I do take my own precautions, and so far, so good...
  20. No, I'm not familiar with Forsythia. I'd like to hear something about the place. For people like me, who take medication for high blood pressure and/or are professional wind players, the lifting of the restrictions is a threat.
  21. I never did get back to everyone; sorry. Cafe Katja’s construction of their outdoor space was ongoing, so we ended up at Dudley’s, corner of Broome and Orchard, which is a very good restaurant. They call themselves Australian, but I can’t really tell the difference from New American cuisine. In November and December, they had two really large, beautiful structures that had roofs but were totally open on the sidewalk side, with windows on the other side and good overhead heaters. I went several times, and I definitely recommend the branzino and the Brussels sprouts side. Unfortunately, when I took my girlfriend there for Valentine’s Day, those beautiful semi-open structures had been enclosed in sliding glass doors, so we had to sit really outside, just outside the outer walls of the restaurant, and in that 22-degree weather, the heater was too high to do much and we were exposed to a lot of wind. We still had a good time, but it was insane, something to laugh about when reminiscing in the future. A great restaurant that has a lovely outdoor dining setup that’s still open on the sidewalk side and has heaters is Huertas. It’s quite a bit more expensive than Dudley’s and specializes in pintxos, the Basque equivalents to tapas, and like a tapas bar, has a good wine list as well as excellent brandies (the one that’s $20 a shot is really exceptional and worth it). I’ve been there a few times and love the place, but they do close their outdoor area early sometimes. Last week, we showed up just before 9 on my girlfriend’s birthday, and the hostess was apologetic to us. So we walked across 7th St. and went to Oiji, a somewhat fusiony new Korean place I’ve been interested in since it opened in 2015 but had never been to because it’s pricey. They don’t have genuinely outdoor dining, but each room of their enclosed outdoor structure is completely separate, so we were able to be seated at a 6-top by ourselves, and I felt there was a fair amount of air getting in from outside. They were apologetic about one of their two heaters in the room being out of order, but the other one provided plenty of heat. Our meal there, which cost about the same as meals we’ve had at Huertas (about $188 for the two of us, I think, before tip) was just amazing! Each dish was spectacular, and we also had our first taste of really fine soju (as we have often eaten at restaurants in Koreatown and enjoyed Chamisul, but that’s not special). They told us they are planning to move to a much larger location, where the food will be more luxurious and presumably more expensive. I suggest all of you who would consider a splurge for a special occasion keep tabs on when that happens, and in the meantime, I can’t recommend Oiji enough and feel pretty similarly about Huertas (maybe one dish I had there was just a tad disappointing, but they’re terrific and always make me happy). Going back to more everyday restaurants, Veselka has a good outdoor dining setup with plenty of seating. Mogador’s “outdoor” dining is really semi-enclosed, inside plastic, but can still be chilly. The big problem is that it’s outside their door, so customers take off their masks and may stand there before fully leaving. B&H has outdoor seating with heaters, but I never do anything except get their lentil soup to go. It looks like other restaurants I’d eaten at outside in November and December may have stopped doing outdoor dining. Arturo’s told me tonight that they have. Uluh, which is a great restaurant on 2nd Ave. between 9th and 10th that serves several kinds of regional Chinese cuisine and seems to do all of it that I’ve tried, anyway, really well, ended their small outdoor dining program some time after they literally ran out of gas for their heaters. In November, Barney Greengrass had the same kind of excellent outdoor dining structure, totally open on one side, that Dudley’s used to have and Huertas still has, but I haven’t been up there since then. All of which is a short way of asking: Do you know any Italian restaurants or other restaurants with good food and wine someone who likes Italian food might be likely to enjoy that charge prices somewhere between Arturo’s and Lupa and actually have dining that’s genuinely open to the outdoors but has heating? (Or if not, at least that have separate outdoor rooms for three people that have some circulation from outside? I’m not sure if that’s OK, though…) There is one place like that that I used to go to: Supper. But they have become really overpriced and don’t seem to me to try hard anymore, so I don’t want to take my cousin there. Restaurants she’s enjoyed are the now-closed Crispo, Lupa, the now-closed Otto and an Italian wine bar on Bank St. whose name has slipped my mind. She lives in Westbeth in the far West Village and I live in the East Village, so I think anywhere from like Soho, maybe Tribeca to the 20s might work, but she may not want to go further uptown.
  22. I'm in no position to dictate to my brother on what he should be willing to do, but do note that there is a new variant of concern now.
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