I’m better late than never. I had an opportunity to participate in Chicago’s Restaurant Week, incidentally was more than a week. I enjoy Restaurant Week my first exposure ever was in NYC. I got to dine at restaurants that I would not normally have tried. My reasoning is probably because of atmosphere – too uppity, reputation, and perceived value.
There is a difference between the marketing communication of restaurant week Chicago and NYC. NYC sells restaurant week as an opportunity to try restaurants you probably never tried and giving the restaurant the opportunity to acquire new customers. On the other hand, Chicago sells Restaurant Week as saving opportunity. Lower the perceived value of the restaurant’s brand and in one of my cases lowering the quality of the food.
About 170 restaurants participated in Chicago’s Restaurant Week. What a list to choose from I asked Chicago Bites
what I should do. They replied – stay away from the chains.
On of the things I love about Chicago chefs is that they are not afraid to experience with meats and all the various parts of meat. That’s a big difference between NYC and Chicago. My overly homogenized taste buds are slowly coming around to appreciate these delicacies.
I decided to invent my own strategy for tackling Restaurant Week.
My first stop was lunch at Feast. Ok so Feast wasn’t on the list and didn’t even know Chicago’s Restaurant Week was happening. I wanted to try Feast out and this was a place Joe Kutchera recommended…he also joined me there for afternoon lunch.
The Salmon Teriyaki Spinach, orange, cucumber, and red onion salad over soba noodles was very good! I especially liked the flavor to the teriyaki sauce which enhanced the soba noodles and spinach salad.
Joe had Steak Tortilla Salad skirt steak, grilled onions, lettuce, avocado, grape tomatoes, crispy tortilla strips and cilantro herb dressing. I was invited to nibble on some of Joe’s salad which was also very good.
The atmosphere of Feast is excellent for lunch and not over run with business dinners and a nice selection of organic wines. I had the Viognier, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho/Washington, which is a mix of apricot, honeycomb, creamy, and luscious. It speaks of spring!
Feast- Gold Coast
25 E. Delaware
Chicago, IL 60611
For dinner I went to Wave Restaurant located in the W with Jennifer Nolan. The swanky Wave offered a special prix fix dinner for $32.00. Special it was Jen and I both had the Fattoush salad hearts of romaine, roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, crispy pita and sumac vinaigrette. The flavors were refreshing. The freshly roasted tomato was surprise that I really enjoyed.
For my entrée the only way I could describe it was an East Asian style lamb with glazed vegetable and almonds. The sauce had a rich plum taste. I really enjoyed tough the lamb was a bit fatty which probably brought more flavor to this dish.
Jen had the grilled pork tenderloin braised savvy cabbage, medjool dates and red wine reduction. The red wine reduction and grilled pork made a perfect combination.
Wave did not want their customers to walk away with just dessert so they provided us with two desserts to taste. The roasted apple almond tart with cinnamon gelato and caramel sauce which the perfect ending to a great meal, but there’s more…we also tried the two combination that I thought would never play nice in the sandbox: dark chocolate Cremeux vanilla-lime tapioca — opposites do attract is I how I would describe it.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere of Wave as well as the view the Lake. This is a perfect first date place for dinner, dessert or cocktails.
644 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
For Saturday night dinner I tried Bice with my friends, Melisa, Jeff and John. I really enjoyed the company and conversation but thought the meal wasn’t there. Bice offered a 3 course dinner for $32.
When I booked Bice, it was because I was intrigued by the menu wanted to really try the salmon. There was a bait and fish switch when we arrived. They probably ran out of salmon and replaced it with sole and keeping the rest of the menu intact.
I was disappointed with sole though the roasted baby artichokes and potatoes were great. I did not understand why there was a roasted pepper sauce it did not go well with the sole.
The dessert Apple tart with crema anglaise was ok.
Perhaps it was busy the Saturday night, salmon was not available, that this portion of my restaurant week experience wasn’t up to my standards.
158 E. Ontario
Chicago IL 60611
Restaurant Week Chicago should be thought of more for the quality of food and atmosphere rather than a savings in a meal. There was so many other restaurants that I wanted to try I’ll either have to wait until next year or venture in on my own.