Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Rioja (semi-long)

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Restaurants & Bars

Rioja (semi-long)

Akatonbo | Jun 17, 2005 02:04 PM

We went last night to Rioja, the Jones brothers' new tapas restaurant in the old Atlantique space.

It was weird to sit in that familiar, but very changed, room - sort of like being in a parallel universe. Gone are the fancifull fishes that lined the walls above the plate rail. The room has been totally, and tastefully, refurbished.

The food was excellent. The squid, shrimp and andouille paella was the best we've ever had, though a tad pricey at $14.95 for a not-large panfull. Datiles Rellenos were a fresh take on that old standby - stuffed with almonds, wrapped with crispy bacon, and topped with bits of goat cheese, they avoided the cloying sweetness of other versions. We also had seared scallops in a tomato based risotto (I think - all I really remember was that they were delicious), and braised lamb with rice and Spanish cheese (Manchego and one other) and other stuff - this was like a hash, but very flavorful. My husband also had mussels, which I don't eat, but he enjoyed them. We finished up with a delicious, light, bread pudding and some very nice sherry.

The menu is not huge, but the dishes struck me as well-chosen, with an emphasis on seafood.

We were relieved to see the place was packed - in stark contrast to our fairly recent last trip to Atlantique (which must have been in its death throes then - toally moribund).

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