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Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Chicago Report (Part 3)

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Restaurants & Bars 7

Chicago Report (Part 3)

Ira (LA Hound) | Nov 17, 2004 05:49 PM

Sun. lunch -- After gorging ourselves at Sabatino's the nite before, we decided to forgo breakfast. Our lunch destination was Lou Malnati's on Wells.

We arrived around 2 and were seated in the backroom. We ordered a small sausage with black olives and mushrooms and a medium portion of the Malnati's Salad. The pizza was ridiculously good. We typically disdain deep dish pizza because of the heaviness of the crust. Lou's crust is relatively light and seems to contain cornmeal which gives it a nice, almost nutty flavor. The sausage was of high quality as was the cheese, not too much grease to be found. The salad was very fresh and contained lots of salami and gorgonzola cheese.

The service was just right and we drank our Goose Island ales while we waited. Lou Malnati's, Goose Island and the Bears on the tube -- what could be more Chicago than that??

Sun. dinner -- I had made reservations at Wildfire for 8 p.m. By the time we got back to the hotel it was 7:45 and I called the restaurant to see if we could come in at 9. They surprisingly closed at 9 so I cancelled. I then called Shaw's, where we ate and enjoyed during a visit in '98, and they were open until 10.

We walked in at 9:30 and were seated in the main dining room. I promptly ordered the fresh oyster platter which I ate with mucho gusto and washed down with more Goose Island ale. As an entree I ordered one of the specials, grouper stuffed with blue crab, topped with a potato crust on a bed of spinach. We can never get grouper in LA and it was a rare treat indeed. The fish was quite moist and mildly flavored, just perfect. My wife had a crab cake sandwich which she thought could've used a bit more seasoning. For dessert,we shared a sampler plate containing a 1/2 slice of key lime pie, a 1/2 slice of pecan pie and a mini creme brulee. All were excellent.

The service, once again, was very professional, even at the late hour. We were the last ones out the door and never felt rushed during the meal.

Mon. breakfast -- Since we had 9 a.m. tix for the Jackie Kennedy exhibit at the Field Museum, we stopped at Room 12 for breakfast. We were the first ones in and we split an omelette with muenster cheese, Canadian bacon and mushrooms. The omelette was very good. The potato chunks, which they call hash browns, were uninspired. The menu contained some very interesting dishes and on our next visit we will hopefully be in more of an adventurous mood. I really loved the coffee -- definitely the best I had during the trip.

The owners must be banking on that area becoming populated with condo dwellers with all of the construction around Roosevelt and Michigan. I overheard our server on the phone saying that the place was virtually deserted on the weekend. That's not a good sign for a breakfast place. I wonder how they do during lunch on weekdays. I hope they can survive.

We had a 3 pm flight out of O'Hare and were hoping to get authentic Chicago dogs at the airport. The only place in our terminal that listed hot dogs on their menu was a place called O'Briens and they had it placed at the very bottom of the menu. Assuming that was not an endorsement of the hot dog, we opted for the burger which tasted like something that would be served at the ESPN Zone. The City of Chicago would do a great service to the public if they had a vendor at O'Hare selling the real deal and some real Italian beef sandwiches as well. Is that asking too much??

Thanks again to everyone who responded to my inquiry. The trip would not have been a gastronomical success without you. You guys are great and so is your city. The cuisine is unsurpassed and the people are genuinely friendly, without any air of pretension. We also enjoyed the consistently fine service in the restuarants. In LA, the servers are usually "industry wannabes" who could care less about serving. In Chicago, all of our servers appeared to take great pride in their trade and it makes quite a difference to the customer. Good food will always be diminished by poor service.

We can't wait to return and try some new restaurants. If anyone ever plans on visiting LA, please inquire on the LA board and I will be more than happy to reciprocate.

Thanks again ....

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