DINING IN CHICAGO – BETTER LOOK AT THE WEATHER REPORT
Residents of Chicago say that if you are not happy with the weather now—do not worry it will soon change.
That is so true, and when last here in this fair city, it amazed me how many alternating conditions might occur within a twelve-hour period.
Most people will agree that weather has a great deal to do with the rudimentary choices one makes as to what and where to eat. Will it be indoors or out, casual or serious, heavy or light? Advancing it still further, we must understand that weather plays an important part in the types of food and drink that are consumed in different parts of the world. Most diners have not given it the slightest thought, although they probably would not drink port wine at midday in the tropics or eat a fruit salad for dinner on a cold winter’s night. Today, when comestibles from almost everywhere in the world are available globally, tinned, frozen or fresh, diners have to use common sense as to what to eat in accordance with the dictates of the weather.
In places with more prevailing weather conditions, it can still be troublesome to decide on where to dine at any given moment, especially if more than one person is involved. In Chicago, the whole decision making process becomes that much more complicated because of the constantly changing weather.
Chicago has an answer for residents and visitors alike, by offering a restaurant for every mood, taste, and change in the weather in a city that caters to the theory of eat, drink and be merry.
2152 N. Damen Ave. (Webster St.) Send to Phone
Chicago, IL 60647
Chef-partner Chris Pandel creates innovative dishes from seasonal produce in a casual yet refined setting with ingredients for many dishes that are made-from-scratch including but not limited to: vinegar, pickles and even ketchup.
837 W. Fulton Market (Green St.) Send to Phone
Chicago, IL 60607
Cuisine: American Regional
Opening Hours: Dinner nightly, Brunch Sun.
Reservations required Sun.
Valet parking Fri.-Sat.
Credit Cards: All Major
The Publican is a type of brasserie from the team that created Blackbird and Avec. once they taste the Wagyu beef tartare with duck fat fries; crispy-skinned pork belly; or wood-roasted black sea bass, all is forgiven. (Although the no-reservations policy, except on Sunday for the family-style dinners, might not be.) With a vibe that lies somewhere in between a European beer hall and a Henry VIII feast—think a large U-shaped communal table, booths enclosed with swinging doors, 14-foot-high ceilings—this Fulton Market restaurant may not look like it’s dishing out such good food, but chef de cuisine Brian Huston definitely is. Look for 100-plus ales, lagers, stouts and ciders, including Juliet, a wonderful fruity beer from local brewer Goose Island. Tide yourself over during the inevitable wait at one of the tiered round tables in the bar.
3257 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL
A lovely 48-seat Lincoln Park cafe where Japanese accented renditions of French and Italian cuisine are prepared. The newly renovated setting is elegant and two new menus have been implemented one more casual that the other. It is probably the best value for haute cuisine in the city.
4156 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago IL
Full bar, wine list
The unpretentious exterior gives no clue as to the lavish setting within and prices to match. The two floors offer a choice of compartmentalized rooms and crannies where a total of 80 persons may dine.
A set multi-course-tasting menu at $75 is the only choice; a westernized version of what they would term in Thailand as palace cuisine. Although good, the cooking is definitely geared to the American palate.
Three curries, grilled pork salad, celestial salad, Golden baskets are always good.
One Financial Plaza 440 S. LaSalle St., 40th Floor, Chicago, IL
Perched on top of the Chicago Stock Exchange on the 40th floor the Everest restaurant commands a westerly vista where diners, on a clear day, can view the city and beyond for many miles. Chef/Owner Jean Joho presents a superb selection of Alsacian specialties and a wine list to match. His outstanding cuisine and exemplary service by a friendly staff insures that Everest will remain one of the best restaurants in America.
Starters: Sauteed Pork Cheek, Green Lentils, Warm and Cold Foie Gras; Shirred Egg, Beluga Caviar, Marc de Alsace de Gewurztraminer; Salmon Souffle Auberge de L’Ill, Homage to Paul Haeberlin.Main courses: Roasted Squab, Marinated Turnips a la mode de Colmar; Poached Tenderloin of Beef, Pot au Feu Style, Horseradish Sauce; Crepinette of Guinea Hen, Wrapped and Roasted, Cabbage Alsace Style; Minnesota Free Range Poussin, Cracked Corn, Natural Juice.
59 W. Hubbard
(Opening February 2011)
The Paris Club venture with the Melman Brothers (Jerrod and R.J.) and Chef Jean Joho from Everest and the late Brasserie Jo, which was the most wonderful and authentic French brasserie in America, is poised to open sometime in February. There is not a lot of information coming from the Melman camp but they do mention “French”, “Casual”, & “Funky” as descriptive key words.
816 W. Armitage Ave.,
Tel. (312) 248-6228
Charlie Trotter, who is the current darling of the Chicago restaurant scene, creates a different menu nightly (except Sunday and Monday) from ingredients and methods borrowed from far and wide, in a slick two-story renovated Lincoln Park brownstone with a Biedermeier inspired design featuring clean lines and muted colors. The first floor seats just over thirty while the second floor balcony seats thirty-six and another thirty-six in the salon respectively.
Adjoining the restaurant is a test kitchen where Trotter tapes TV segments and on occasion gives cooking classes.
The restaurant kitchen uses only the finest ingredients available, the service is top notch, and the whole experience can be quite exhilarating. To really experience the varying styles of Chef Trotter’s cooking, ordering the tasting menu is a must.
The Grand Degustation is a multi course menu with both cold and hot starters and two main courses. The first seating starts at 5:30pm and the restaurant closes between 11pm and midnight depending on the bookings. The restaurant has a full bar and a large wine list. It is essential to reserve well in advance, as the restaurant is usually fully booked.
Frontera Grill – Topolobampo
445 N. Clark St., Chicago
Closed Sunday & Monday
Located in the same building Frontera Grill (seating 65) is the more casual of the two restaurants. Topolobampo, the higher-end operation, seats only 45. They both share the same entrance and both have outdoor seating. Chef/Owner Rick Bayless is nationally acclaimed for his authentic cooking that represents many of the important gastronomic areas within Mexico. He is relentless in his quest for the finest ingredients and to truly reproduce Mexican cuisine on the highest level.
Tamales de Pescado Yucatecan tamales flavored with achiote, filled with fresh catfish, steamed in bananas leaves and served with fresh tomato sauce; Garnachas small homemade tortillas topped with savory pork pibil, pickledonions and habanero salsa; Cazuela de Borrego al Cascabel charcoal-seared lamb simmered with woodland mushrooms, potatoes and Mexican vegetables; Guacamole fresh and chunky, served with tortilla chips; Tostaditas made-to-order tortilla chips with two salsas; three-chile (cascabel, morita, guajillo) and roasted tomatillo with serrano and cilantro; Puerco en Salsa Roja grilled pork tenderloin in spicy New Mexico red chile sauce with grilled red onions and black beans.