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Restaurants & Bars 1

Chicago Report (Part 1)

Ira (LA Hound) | Nov 16, 200405:29 PM

I will attempt,as time allows me to do so, to make this report in separate entries -- so bear with me.

My wife and I just returned yesterday after spending 4 glorious days in Chicago. The following chronicles our dining experiences:

Thurs. dinner -- We finally made it to the Frontera Grill, arriving at 5:15 to an empty dining room only to be told, as expected, that we would have to wait 1 to 1.5 hours. We retreated to the smoky bar where we imbibed on margaritas and the appetizer platter. Both were great, especially the ceviche on the platter. The margs were powerful without being to boozy (if that makes sense).

After an hour we were seated in the now jam packed dining room. I ordered the puerco pibil, a Yucatecan dish of which I am fond and don't see enough of here in LA. It was very good, the meat had the requisite tenderness and the marinade was right on the money. My wife ordered a special braised brisket. The meat was not as tender as she expected and parts of it were chewy and stringy. The sauce was reminiscent of my pibil, only a little smokier. We skipped dessert.

The service seemed predicated upon table turnover. Our server, after the entrees were served, came by no less than 5 times to check on us. Some may feel this is attentive service, we thought it was intrusive. It's as if she was monitoring the progress of our meal. She delivered the check less than 90 seconds after we informed her that we were passing on dessert, even though I still had about a quarter glass full of wine. She never told us to take our time paying.

Even though I was aware of the fact that the building houses 2 separate restaurants, I was still confused. Wonder what unsuspecting guests think.

We would probably not return for dinner. The quality of the food is not worth the hassle of the dining experience. We would, however, return for the margs.

Fri.(late) breakfast -- We love Swedish pancakes and cannot find good ones in LA. We took the train to Ann Sather's in Lakeview and enjoyed their pancakes immensely, especially the accompanying ligonberry sauce. We also had the Swedish meatballs (another one of my favorites) and the sauasge made of veal. We had a thoroughly delightful breakfast. Did I fail to mention the scrumptious cinnamon rolls?

Our server was an elderly woman who worked there for 23 years. She took good care of us.

Fri dinner -- We love Florida stone crabs and order them from Joe's in Miami at least twice a year. Last summer, we ate at Joe's on Grand and had a wonderful meal, so we thought we'd return

We had a 9:00 reservation and we waited in the smoky, packed bar until 9:20. They complied with my request for a booth.

After devouring two orders of the stone crabs for appetizer, I had the grilled swordfish which was perfectly cooked. My wife had the crab stuffed sole and loved it. Our sides, the Lyonnaise potatoes and the cole slaw, were excellent as well. For dessert, I had my favorite -- key lime pie. Joe's version is extraordinary.

The service was overwhelmingly professional. In stark contrast to the night before at Frontera, where our server lacked professionalism. As we walked out the door, the maitre d called me by name (how did he remember it after a couple of hours?) to ask how everything was. A small touch, but one that made feel feeling very good upon exiting.

More to come ....

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