Back from a weekend in Chicago, where we stuck close to the Loop area and ate at Trader Vic's, Heaven on Seven, Taste of Siam, and Lou Mitchell's bakery/diner. There were 7 of us, including a vegetarian.
Trader Vic's (in the Palmer House) - we were not expecting much since it's a tiki bar, and the restaurant was not hopping at all on a friday nite. we were pleasantly suprised with the food. we had a vegetable curry that came with 7 different condiments: papaya chutney, bananas in lime juice, raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds, etc.; the hawaiian pork (huge), slightly sweet, with mashed potatoes and red onion jam; the beef tenderloin mandalay curry with sesame noodles; and grilled salmon with shiitake mushroom vinaigrette and wasabi mashed potatoes. and of course, the biggest signature mai-tais, which were delicious and packed a punch for $8. not bad at all. entrees were in the $15-$28 range.
Heaven on Seven - 111 N. Wabash. huge portions, lots of deep fried stuff in an odd location. had the soft-shell crab po' boy, the shrimp voodoo with pasta (seriously spicy), crab cakes, onion rings, cheese grits, collard greens, gumbo, potato chipotle soup (special), corn muffins - not for the heart-smart! friendly service, and the collection of hot sauces are amazing. didn't have room for dessert although i'm told the chocolate bourbon pie is great. a fine bargain restaurant.
Taste of Siam - 600 S. Dearborn. What a deal! I read about this place on this Board, so thanks! 7 of us split the Siam platter and had an entree. the platter is a sample of most of the appetizers on the menu for 12.95. mostly tempura, but the spring rolls, potato dumplings and stuffed chicken wing were favorites. came with sweet/sour sauce, peanut sauce and cucumber salad. Tried the chicken curry, pad kee mao, pad thai, chicken cashew noodles, and mixed vegetables with tofu, all good. not the best thai i've ever had, but good and cheap with an average price of an entree just under 6 bucks! a true chowhound place. what a shame that it was nearly empty on a saturday nite.
Lou Mitchell's - 600 W. Jackson. this was further out (short cab ride) but was an excellent way to close our chicago weekend: free freshly-made donut holes while we waited in line, a honey and spice prune(!) and slice of orange while we perused the menu, huge portions of standard breakfast fare like pancakes, eggs and meat, and omelettes, and a little cup of vanilla soft-serve and milk duds for dessert! not to mention the sesame "greek" bread and homemade marmalade. the prices were around $6-8 for breakfast. fast friendly efficient service. our server linda was awesome!
I really wanted to try other places you recommended,i.e. Cyrano's Bistrot, but I'll just have to come back!