Spent the long weekend in the City&area, and we had a fabulous time. Had some amazing and not so amazing eats...
Swordfish in Batavia (www.swordfishsushi.com) - place we happened to come across after outlet shopping in the burbs. Serves up contemporary sushi. Affliated with Starfish and Wildfish. Ordered (1st) house and crispy calamari salads, (2nd) yellow tail tempura roll and dragon & rainbow makis. The naming convension is different, roll vs maki. Normally (in my other eats) maki is less than 6 pieces and rolls are greater, here they are labelled in reverse.
The salads took a long time (+30 mins), we got stuck behind 2 bigger tables (+6 people) which were ordering mostly or entirely from the kitchen. Salads were tasty, light dressings. The roll & makis scored high marks on presentation; apple fan and colored turnip rose wrapped around a tea light. The dragon (on a huge unagi crave!) was delicious. Hubby ordered the rainbow, as the spicy tuna centre caught his eye. It too was deelish. Their makis were smaller (than I'm used to), less rice, which is just right as 1 bite. We were both really satisfied with our meals.
The sushi looked great from what we saw go by our table. Entrees come with house salad and miso, good value. Couple beside us attested their entrees (swordfish and 7 spice chilean sea bass) were extremely good. Aside from the wait for our salads, which we thought the server could speak to the sushi chef to whip up a palate teaser to apologize for the wait, I'd still recommend this place. If you're up for a drive. :)
Lou Malnatis (www.loumalnatis.com) - rec from Chowhound that this place was THE place for deep dish pizza. Ordered (1st) Malnati salad and (2nd) "Deluxe" pizza. Salad was tasty, gorgonzola gave it a little bite. Pizza took +30 mins to cook. We were a little disappointed with it, sauce wasn't tomatoey enough. I'm not one for chomping down on big pieces of onion and green pepper. Would have been better if the veggies were sliced thiner/ly or even sauted them first to take away their bite as they weren't al dente in the pizza. I think we would have enjoyed the pepperoni & cheese more. I've tried the deep dish from Giordano's and I have to say I enjoyed theirs much more (more tomato sauce).
La Scarola (www.lascarola.com) - another Chowhound rec. Asked the server what her recs were and we go with (1st) mussels in white wine sauce, (2nd) Veal Chop alla Gabe and Linguini & clams (3rd) canolli (had to try it out!). Starter was fine, sauce was good for bread dipping. The server warned us the veal chop was for the hungry. The not so hungry, order the Veal Marsala. The veal chop was HUGE! As big as the plate, with potatoes and veggies underneath. My linguini in white wine sauce was garlicy and superb! Hubby loved his meal so much, he couldn't stop himself from eating (even full) as it was soo good! I polished about half of my pasta off. The canolli was disappointing as the filling was too sweet and they capped the ends off with colored peanuts and a maraschino cherry. ANYTHING that comes with a maraschino cherry turns me off. The restaurant deco is nothing to look, but excudes a family style setting with big portions and great service. Happy customers we were.
Phoenix Restaurant - Sunday morning we took a stroll through Chinatown to build up our appetites. Hubby wanted dim sum and I was armed with a list of recs. My husband's method of determining if a chinese restaurant is good is by the line-up outside its doors for dim sum. Phoenix fit that criteria and we got in just before 11am. The wait thereafter for the others was over 45 mins. The usual dim sum picks, but could have faired better with more variety.
Aria (www.ariachicago.com) - as a Platinum Fairmont member, I had quite a few food & bevs coupons to use. Since we were staying there decided to eat at the hotel's dining room. The deco was hip with asian / middle east tones. I had a chance to review the menu in advance so I knew I was going for some starters and dessert. Hubby was craving steak and he ordered an 18oz rib-eye, with the organic sweet corn and lobster risotto to start. I had the caprese salad (for the heirloom tomatoes) and seared sea scallops with lemon and gray salt (for the fois gras).
They bring nann bread to the table with 4 kinds of dippers (1) white raisins with cashews, (2) red lentils with tomato paste & tumeric, (3) spinach, (4) yogurt with corriander. My fave was the 1st dipper, nutty and sweet. The nann was so addictive, but had to pace ourselves for our meal. Our starters were amazing. The risotto was perfect and the fois gras melted in my mouth...mmm. Hubby's steak arrived and it again was HUGE! Good thing I only ordered starters as I helped him chip away at his. :) The entrees came with 3 sides of potatoes: sweet mashed with pecans, scallopped, and fingerlings with horseradish cream. They were all good, except scallopped was a little salty.
Made room for dessert, ordered the Thai Lemongrass crème brulee. Excellent presentation with a 2 rice bowls stacked (like clam shell) and the server unveils with one bowl with the fruit and granita and the other the brulee. The granita was refreshing and the brulee was creamy with a nice hint of lemongrass. This was an excellent meal, service was 5*. I would highly recommend Aria if you'd like a mighty fine hotel restaurant meal.
Thanks fellow Chowhounders for your recs!