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Chicago eat-list (June 2010)


jenc
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Dear eG kids:

I'll be coming to visit and I've pretty much plotted out my weekend, but thought I'd run it by you vets to make sure that I'm not making any egregious errors in planning. And I will accept alternate suggestions if anyone feels strongly about it.

SO!

THURSDAY dinner : Purple Pig (Is aiming for 8:30 late enough? Go later?)

FRIDAY

- morning 1: Mercat De La Planxa (I'm not sure this is necessary to smash in?)

- morning 2: Blackbird

- afternoon snack: Hot Doug's (aiming to be there at 2:30/3p)

- early evening: The Publican (beer, light eats)

- late night: TRU (dessert)

SATURDAY

- morning: XOCO (For churros and chocolate - couldn't get a res for Topolobampbo)

- Fox & Obel, then the French Market

- early evening: Avec

- night: Moto (I'm #80 in the wait-list for Alinea...)

SUNDAY

- morning: Maxwell Street Market (street food)

- afternoon: Mado for a pig butchering demo (no food)

- afternoon: The Map Room (drinks/snacks)

- afternoon: Goose Island (beer)

- night: Cafe des Architects (that neighbourhood menu thing looks good)

....aaaand that's about it. I'mma explode after, but I should have a lot of photos from it all :) x-posted at Chowhound.

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Sounds like quite a plan! Assuming you can eat that much, though; that's a lot of food each day.

Specific comments...

>> THURSDAY dinner : Purple Pig (Is aiming for 8:30 late enough? Go later?)

I don't know. You can call them (i.e. now) to ask when to arrive to avoid long waits. (Another poster recently encountered a 45-minute wait at 6:20 on a weekday.)

>> FRIDAY

>> - morning 1: Mercat De La Planxa (I'm not sure this is necessary to smash in?)

>> - morning 2: Blackbird

>> - afternoon snack: Hot Doug's (aiming to be there at 2:30/3p)

First, I recommend skipping Mercat a la Planxa. I've only eaten there for dinner, and it was very good, but another poster mentioned that it's not as good at lunch as at dinner, and I would imagine the same would apply for breakfast, if that was your intention. If you want to go out for breakfast, I'd recommend Bongo Room, a few blocks south of Mercat.

Blackbird is a good place for lunch. I would recommend playing the afternoon by ear; if you don't feel like another meal two hours after lunch (on top of breakfast), then you could skip Hot Doug's. After all, it's not like there's a reservation you'll need to cancel. (You can make a reservation for the Blackbird lunch on Opentable.com and I recommend doing so.)

>> - early evening: The Publican (beer, light eats)

>> - late night: TRU (dessert)

That's a good combo, the best of both. Note that the Publican has about half communal seating and half private tables for 2-6, so if you have a seating preference, note it when making your reservation, either on Opentable or over the phone, and they will try to honor it. I assume you're aware that TRU is dressy, with gentlemen diners attired in jackets.

>> SATURDAY

>> - morning: XOCO (For churros and chocolate, couldn't get a res for Topolobampbo)

Keep in mind that Frontera Grill serves brunch on Saturdays and is entirely walk-in. You might want to consider Frontera's brunch rather than XOCO. Check out the menus for both meals, at http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

>> - Fox & Obel, then the French Market

Both places are similar, in that both offer a variety of carry-out foods as well as informal seating if you want to eat there. Doing both may be fun if you're interested in observing what each has to offer, but for purposes of getting something to eat at that time, you could easily do one or the other, rather than both.

>> - early evening: Avec

How early? If you go at 4:00, you won't have to wait. But go at 6:30 on a Saturday, and you may encounter waits as long as 90 minutes or more. Also, one more thing to keep in mind, your itinerary has a large concentration of restaurants from one owner-chef (Paul Kahan owns Blackbird, the Publican, and Avec).

- night: Moto (I'm #80 in the wait-list for Alinea...)

TWO dinners that evening???

>> - evening: Cafe des Architects (that neighbourhood thing looks good)

It is indeed! As well as being an excellent bargain too.

Enjoy your visit!

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THURSDAY dinner : Purple Pig (Is aiming for 8:30 late enough? Go later?)

They fill up by 6 most nights. On a recent Thursday, there was an hour wait by 6:30. You may encounter a short wait at 8:30...though they've recently added a few more tables out on the patio, so it's possible the waits will come down. You can try checking @WaitWatcher on Twitter, they post about the Pig's wait most evenings.

FRIDAY

- morning 1: Mercat De La Planxa (I'm not sure this is necessary to smash in?)

- morning 2: Blackbird

- afternoon snack: Hot Doug's (aiming to be there at 2:30/3p)

- early evening: The Publican (beer, light eats)

- late night: TRU (dessert)

My one lunch at Mercat was fine, but nothing extraordinary. Dinner was much better.

Blackbird is a pretty great deal at lunch, and worth doing.

Hot Doug's closes at 4, and if the weather is nice on a "Duck Fat Fry-day" the line can be ridiculous and unpredictable. It's entirely possible you might not get served if you show up too late.

The Publican offers an abbreviated food menu at the stand-up tables in the bar area. You can get oysters, frites, pork rinds and some of the cheese/charcuterie options. It's a nice option if you can't get a reservation or don't want a full meal. That said, there's always something on the full menu that makes me wish I'd waited for a seat.

Not that it should affect the dessert menu, but it's worth noting that Rick Tramonto announced that he is leaving TRU today.

SATURDAY

- morning: XOCO (For churros and chocolate - couldn't get a res for Topolobampbo)

- Fox & Obel, then the French Market

- early evening: Avec

- night: Moto (I'm #80 in the wait-list for Alinea...)

I'll second the suggestion of trying to get into one of Bayless' other places...had my 5th meal at Xoco today and have only ever left impressed with what I ate once. Topolo, however, is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. If you want something sweet in the morning, nsxtasy's recommendation of the Bongo Room is right-on.

Fox & Obel is not that high on my list these days...they were inundated for awhile due to a GroupOn. I'd put Pastoral into the mix for lunch (either the one on Lake, or their outpost at the French Market).

Avec opens at 3:30 and can be on a wait by 5. If you're planning to do an extended tasting at Moto or Alinea, starting at Avec is a likely recipe for way-too much food. Maybe a cheese plate and a couple of the fantastic cocktails around the corner at Sepia (whose lounge opens at 4:30)?

SUNDAY

- morning: Maxwell Street Market (street food)

- afternoon: Mado for a pig butchering demo (no food)

- afternoon: The Map Room (drinks/snacks)

- afternoon: Goose Island (beer)

- night: Cafe des Architects (that neighbourhood menu thing looks good)

I don't believe the Map Room serves food, but it's definitely worth a stop for a beer lover. Rather than Goose Island (unless you have an affinity for their products, I don't), I'd suggest a trip down Damen for tacos, etc. at Big Star and cocktails at The Violet Hour.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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You can try checking @WaitWatcher on Twitter, they post about the Pig's wait most evenings.

Hmn, great twitter link. I'll make use of that. :) We'll be resting in our room before then, so we can go at any time.

My one lunch at Mercat was fine, but nothing extraordinary. Dinner was much better.

Blackbird is a pretty great deal at lunch, and worth doing.

Mercat out. Blackbird in and shifted up!

Hot Doug's closes at 4, and if the weather is nice on a "Duck Fat Fry-day" the line can be ridiculous and unpredictable. It's entirely possible you might not get served if you show up too late.

Also shifted up!

I'll second the suggestion of trying to get into one of Bayless' other places...had my 5th meal at Xoco today and have only ever left impressed with what I ate once. Topolo, however, is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

I would totally eat at Topolo, but it's entirely booked up. However, I think I will drop Mercat and Xoco in favour of hitting up Fronterra Grill at brunch on Saturday. We'll see how the lines go.

Avec opens at 3:30 and can be on a wait by 5. If you're planning to do an extended tasting at Moto or Alinea, starting at Avec is a likely recipe for way-too much food. Maybe a cheese plate and a couple of the fantastic cocktails around the corner at Sepia (whose lounge opens at 4:30)?

I think I'm dropping Avec as well and keeping things as light as I can (while still eating as much as I can), as I do want to get the Grand Taster at Moto. So, I think it's Fronterra for brunch and two markets in the afternoon and a long period of no-food before our later res at Moto. I pretty much assume Alinea is a lost cause.

I don't believe the Map Room serves food, but it's definitely worth a stop for a beer lover. Rather than Goose Island (unless you have an affinity for their products, I don't), I'd suggest a trip down Damen for tacos, etc. at Big Star and cocktails at The Violet Hour.

Would Goose Island be served around the city? If so, then I'd rather skip the brewery. I just checked and you're right - no food on most nights at the Map Room, so how far on Damen should I be wandering for those Tacos? I do need to make it back to the station ... detours are acceptable!

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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I'll second the suggestion of trying to get into one of Bayless' other places...had my 5th meal at Xoco today and have only ever left impressed with what I ate once. Topolo, however, is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

I would totally eat at Topolo, but it's entirely booked up. However, I think I will drop Mercat and Xoco in favour of hitting up Fronterra Grill at brunch on Saturday. We'll see how the lines go.

I've never been for brunch, but when I want to do dinner at Frontera, I just make sure I'm there about 10 minutes before they open and it's generally not a problem getting a table...usually only a handful of people waiting at that point. Though, the margin for error is slim as the dining room is not large. Worth noting is that you can eat in the bar area.

I don't believe the Map Room serves food, but it's definitely worth a stop for a beer lover. Rather than Goose Island (unless you have an affinity for their products, I don't), I'd suggest a trip down Damen for tacos, etc. at Big Star and cocktails at The Violet Hour.

Would Goose Island be served around the city? If so, then I'd rather skip the brewery. I just checked and you're right - no food on most nights at the Map Room, so how far on Damen should I be wandering for those Tacos? I do need to make it back to the station ... detours are acceptable!

Yes, Goose Island is pretty prevalent. Map Room would have several, Publican should as well. Not sure which station it is you need to get back to, but the Map Room is a healthy walk from the train (Blue Line - Western or Damen). Big Star and The Violet Hour are steps South of the Damen stop. Detour is worth it if you don't mind a crowd. Try the queso fundido. The place can be a scene, but the food is worth the effort. You can tell that Kahan worked for Bayless.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I've never been for brunch, but when I want to do dinner at Frontera, I just make sure I'm there about 10 minutes before they open... Worth noting is that you can eat in the bar area.

...

Not sure which station it is you need to get back to, but the Map Room is a healthy walk from the train (Blue Line - Western or Damen). Big Star and The Violet Hour are steps South of the Damen stop. Detour is worth it if you don't mind a crowd. Try the queso fundido. The place can be a scene, but the food is worth the effort. You can tell that Kahan worked for Bayless.

Good note on Fronterra. Am currently considering swapping that for dinner instead of CdA.

Might make a stop at Big Star if I can. I've been trying to shoe in The Violet Hour in, but we'll see. It'll be a late-night thing, I suspect.

And the walking - I will need it :)

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Good note on Fronterra. Am currently considering swapping that for dinner instead of CdA.

That won't work in your itinerary, as none of the Bayless restaurants are open on Sunday.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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  • 1 month later...

Over a month later... here's the summary-post (more photos on the blog) of all my meals. There are links to individual restaurant posts (with more photos/menus/etc) at the end of the relevant paragraph.

IMG_5086_web.jpg

Escaping the brouhaha that was the G20 in Toronto, I ran off with Endy to Chicago for an extended weekend. Though our hotel was located just off the shopping Mecca that is the Magnificent Mile, we, of course, hadn't chosen Chicago for its shopping, but rather for its food. After some extensive research (thank you Chowhound and eGullet peeps!), the itinerary was set up and like all my trips, sight-seeing was optional and merely a good way to kill time between meals. I had short-listed 7 restaurants, 3 markets, and a pig butchering demo during our stay, with several optional places (mostly of the drinking variety) to hit if we had time.

Day 1: Garrett's Popcorn, Voges, The Purple Pig

Let me start off by saying how much I really like Porter Airlines. Quick, comfortable, and convenient - especially if you live in downtown Toronto. So, after the relatively short flight, we made our way to the Chicago core and our hotel. After settling in (and setting up the all-important internet connection), we thought we'd start take a slow stroll toward our dinner destination down North Michigan Avenue - with a couple of stops along the way.

Apparently, Garrett's Popcorn (625 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago) is something of an institution in Chicago. They have this cheddar/caramel mix which everyone ahead of me in line ordered. To be honest, the combination didn't appeal to me at all, but we were tasked to bring some home for friends and I thought I should give it a shot. The verdict? Not as bad a combo as you'd think, but I'm not sure it's worth a long wait to get it.

Continuing South, I suss out the Voges store (520 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago) in North Bridge Mall. Billing itself as "Haut Chocolat," Voges has many an interesting combination. Bacon, wasabi, reishi mushroom - just a few of the ingredients and flavours you can find in a bar of Voges chocolate. Funny enough, we left the store with almost all caramels, since we'd tried quite a number of these bars already.

Finally, we arrived at The Purple Pig. After a short 20-minute wait, we were seated at one of the communal tables. Though we liked quite a few of our dishes, each plate that came out was too much for two. We left feeling like we needed at least one more stomach to help us through everything. Not to mention the atmosphere and set-up is really quite suited to groups. Read the full post...

Day 2: Blackbird, the French Market, Mercat A La Planxa, and TRU

blackbird.jpg

We started off our first full day in Chicago at Blackbird, a Paul Khan restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine. Instead of the prix-fixe (quite reasonable at $22!), we ordered à-la-carte. Had a very delicious cabbage soup, which was the highlight of our meal. Crispy sweetbreads, a pork belly sandwich, and stuffed quail also were consumed. Overall, a really good lunch. Read the full post...

Nearby to Blackbird is The French Market (131 North Clinton Street, Chicago), so we stopped by and bought some goodies to take home. I added two kinds of locally-made caramels to the pile we started at Voges. Was tempted to buy olives, but passed when we figured we could buy them at home. Still, they looked so delicious and enticing. The market is smaller than I'd imagined but well-trafficked (for mid-day on a weekday) nonetheless.

We had taken a bit of time to go shopping before we made our way to dinner at Mercat A La Planxa, across from Millennium Park. We had found the dishes here to be really well-prepared (really nice charring, perfectly cooked shrimp, crispy breads) and quite tasty. I was excited to see the Padron peppers we'd had at Txori in Seattle on the menu and ordered that. Quite a tasty snack. I was also quite fond of the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with an almond. While we were quite happy with all of the dishes, we definitely ordered too much. Sadly, we had only a bite or two of our final dishes, before we ran for our next reservation. Read the full post...

TRU has a strict jacket policy that applies to the main dining area and well, that seemed a bit too much of a bother given we were traveling light. But after some careful reading and a phone call, I discovered they do accept dessert reservations (by phone) in the lounge where jackets are not required. Yay! Their dessert-tasting was a really lovely fine-dining experience without the crazy-long time-commitment that a dinner tasting menu would usually requires. Now, some people might think it nutters to spend $40 on a dessert, but I have to say that it was worth every penny. Not just for the food, but the whole ceremony of it all. We're not sure if there were extras thrown in due to our cameras, but it was all very lovely. Highly recommended and a great cap to the day. Read the full post...

Day 3: Hot Doug's, Fox & Obel, and moto

hotdougs-500x162.jpg

Since this was our first trip to Chicago to eat, a trip to Hot Doug's (3324 N. California Avenue, Chicago) was mandatory. I knew the lines would be atrocious, but everyone went on and on about this place. So (finally!), 90 minutes later, we ingested our selection of dogs. Now, Chicago natives might crucify me, but I really don't see the fascination with this. The remix of the lowly dog, while interesting, was not so tasty as to warrant a 90-minute wait. Endy, on the other hand, loved it and would go back.

I had purposely planned to have a light eating day, aware of what kind of hours-long extravaganza that dinner could be. So we filled the time with a bit of shopping and a visit to Fox & Obel (401 East Illinois Street, Chicago), an up-scale grocery store. Lots of interesting things to spend your pennies on here and I satisfied myself with a small bag of candy from the tall and colourfully-filled glass jars.

Moto turned out to be a 5-hour playful exploration in eating. At the core, dishes were okay-to-excellent, with the bulk of them on the good-end of the scale. A really good first-look at molecular gastronomy for me. And a ton of photos. Read the full post...

Day 4: Big Star, Pig Butchering, Goose Island Brewery, Mado, and The Violet Hour

We were running a bit late and were unable to hit the Maxwell Street Market that I had originally planned for that morning. Instead, we made a quick stop at Big Star for a snack. Luckily, things were pretty quiet (I hear there are long lines depending on when you go) and we were able to order and eat in less than 30 minutes. I really liked the atmosphere of this place and the tacos were both inexpensive and tasty. Read full post...

Our snack done with, we raced around the corner to attend the pig butchering demo at Mado. While I'm still not going to be hacking up half a pig any time soon, it was still a great thing to have learned and absorbed. See all the photos on flickr.

IMG_5423_web-500x288.jpg

To kill time before dinner, we made a stop at the Goose Island Brewery (1800 N. Clybourn Avenue, Chicago). While beer is not so much my thing, it was a nice way to try some local brew. And there's a giant Binz around the corner if you feel like you need more variety. Interesting note: there are more Québec beers available at that Binz than in any LCBO. Sigh.

So, earlier in the day at the pig butchering demo, we liked Rob's (the butcher/chef) philosophy and personality enough to have canceled our dinner res at Café Des Architects (20 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago) and made plans to eat at Mado instead. We asked Rob to feed us at-will and so we got to meet our piggy-friend again (delicious!) and sampled some tasty treats both on, and off, the resto's card. Read full post...

Stuffed and unsure of stomach capacity - but conveniently located close to Mado - was the highly regarded cocktail bar, The Violet Hour. The place had an exclusive and old-school feel to things, with just a light splash of romance. It was a fantastic way to celebrate and wind-down our final evening in Chicago. Read full post...

Overall, we had a really fantastic trip to Chicago and are already pondering a return-visit. There was just so much good food and I know we've only just scraped the surface! There's also a vibrant foodie community in Chicago (hi, and thanks, everyone on LTHforum.com, Chicago Chowhound, and Chicago eGullet), where travelers can benefit from their knowledge and enthusiasm. Hope to be back sooner than later, Chicago.

NOTE: There's a map of eats at the bottom of the post with a ton of photos. O_O... so many. Took a while to process and write (plus some flagging enthusiasm in the last two weeks in getting this all written up...). But thanks for all the suggestions. Much appreciated. :)

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi guys! I'm going to Chicago in late September. I have an interesting line-up of restaurants that I will be going to, including Blackbird, Les Nomades and Alinea. I am looking at hotels to stay, but this being my first time in Chicago, I have no idea where the better neighborhoods are or the best places to stay. Price is an issue, of course: trying to get a hotel below $150 a night, if possible. If any egulleters can help me out on this, I'd be much obliged. Thank you!

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Hi guys! I'm going to Chicago in late September. I have an interesting line-up of restaurants that I will be going to, including Blackbird, Les Nomades and Alinea. I am looking at hotels to stay, but this being my first time in Chicago, I have no idea where the better neighborhoods are or the best places to stay. Price is an issue, of course: trying to get a hotel below $150 a night, if possible. If any egulleters can help me out on this, I'd be much obliged. Thank you!

Greetings, Doc. I have a hunch that the powers that be might delete your post because it's not food-related enough. :angry: If so (and even if they don't), feel free to send me a PM with your email address and we can continue this dialogue that way.

However, hoping that they at least keep this post up for a while, here's my advice as a semi-regular visitor.

Public transportation in Chicago is very convenient. The CTA web site has maps, fare info, etc. Unfortunately, I don't think they sell the print version of the system map from their web site. Cabs tend to be plentiful as well. Are you driving, flying or train-ing?

There are lots of good places to stay, in good neighborhoods, in your price range, especially in or near the "downtown" area -- The Loop, Streeterville, River North, North Michigan Ave/Miracle Mile, Gold Coast. Blackbird is in an area called the Warehouse District, just a little bit west of The Loop, a few blocks from the Clinton station on the Green or Pink Line. Les Nomades is in River North. Alinea is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, about a half mile from the Armitage station on the Brown Line, although I suspect you'll want to cab it. All are in perfectly safe neighborhoods, at least in my opinion.

Especially because this is your first visit, I'd recommend staying in one of the "downtown" areas I mentioned above. This keeps you in the middle of things, gives you easy access to public transportation (especially Loop and River North), and is convenient to other attractions like the Art Institute, Millenium Park, etc., etc. I suspect there'll be plenty of decent places under 150--I daresay even a few under 100, depending on what events or conferences are going on at the time. For example, on a BetterBidding forum (see below), people reported getting a room at the Palmer House Hilton (I've stayed there and recommend it) for September 4-7 for 93 a night, the River North Sheraton for 120 a night for Sept. 11-13, and the 4.5* Inter-Continental (on Michigan Ave, beautiful) for 129 a night for Aug. 19-23.

Here's what I usually do:

1) Go to Expedia and see what's being offered there.

2) Look at Travelzoo to see if there are any good specials. I don't see any great ones at the moment, but you never know.

3) Much of the time I'll book a room through Hotwire or Priceline. I've found BetterBidding to be a good place to start. Their best feature is a list of hotels by star rating and amenities. Between that and the forum posts, I usually can figure out which hotel I'll be getting. They also have some good advice re Priceline bidding. Do them a favor and navigate to Hotwire or Priceline via their web site.

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Also not intending to be nit-picky, but Alinea's nearest EL stop would be the North/Clybourn station on the Red Line, and Les Nomades (being east of Michigan Av.) is in Streeterville, not River North.

Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Also not intending to be nit-picky, but Alinea's nearest EL stop would be the North/Clybourn station on the Red Line, and Les Nomades (being east of Michigan Av.) is in Streeterville, not River North.

Right you are. Thanks.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Schwa rocks. Take full advantage of the BYOB policy and stop at Sam's wines and bring something good. We're off on our biennial trip to Chicago this weekend and are hitting Alinea and Moto (first time for Moto). The wife is less into the rock and roll vibe of Schwa than I am, though she certainly liked the food.

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The former Sam's Wine is now (unfortunately) just another outpost of the Binny's chain...for an alternative, I'd recommend Red & White Wines (1861 N. Milwaukee). They tend to be pretty in touch with the menu at Schwa and can generally offer good suggestions.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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As for wines to go with your dinner at Schwa I would hit up Lush at 2232 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL. they have other locations - I have only been to that location but they have 2 others. The girls there were super knowledgeable and one of them has a boyfriend who is friends with Chef Carlson. A little pricey but well worth it. Jason

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Very sad to hear about Sam's Wine. I had read a fascinating article last year (in INC magazine I think) about the long and destructive feud between the brothers but I had not realized that in the end Sam's would not endure as the stellar wine store it was.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everyone! I am about to call it a night after three days of food and wine, plus stops at the Art Institute and Wrigley Field. I must say that my eating experience here in Chicago has awakened me from my stupor induced by the culiary scene in New York City, and I plan to visit here again come the spring. I had opted to buy wine from Cellar Rat along W. North Avenue, which was only a few blocks away from Schwa: the store was recommended by the staff at Schwa, and the wine selection was not bad and quite inexpensive. Bought a sancerre from the Loire region and a syrah/cabernet blend to enjoy with dinner; I also got a lovely rioja for Michael Carlson and his staff. To summarize: Schwa was outstanding, Alinea was transcendent, Blackbird and Avenues were both good, and Hot Doug's was wonderful. I already commented on Schwa on my blog; the other restaurants will follow once I get back home. If you are interested, here is the website: http://www.thefooddocu.blogspot.com.

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