A co-worker and I got around to trying the express lunch deal at the restaurant of the Allerton Hotel at Michigan and Huron. The menu, a copy of which is prominently posted on the sidewalk, features six or seven French-influenced sandwich options ranging from $6.95 to $8.95. The price includes a choice of frites or a mesclun salad as well as a soft drink.
The attractive pricing had me immediately looking for cut corners and dubious substitutions, but we found none. This is a great deal. The waiter kicked things off with a warm baguette and a plate of pretty good butter. I ordered the halibut sandwich with basil aioli, which came on a croissant--an indulgence that I would have avoided had its inclusion been noted on the menu--and topped with a ripe tomato slice. The croissant was incredibly rich in the true French style, but its delicate flakiness was no match for the sturdy and surprisingly large piece of fresh halibut, so the sandwich quickly disintegrated into a fork-and-knife affair. Fish was satueed to a perfect golden outside and just-barely-done tender inside. Aioli was balanced...neither too garlicky nor too basil-y. With another bread choice, this could move into top ten sandwich territory. The greens salad was lightly dressed with a good basic vinaigrette.
My co-worker had the open-face mozzarella and tomato sandwich, which could have been chintzy to justify the $6.95 price, but clearly wasn't. The mozzarella hunk was very thick and fresh, and the tomatoes came in both red, yellow and orange--a flourish that one typically wouldn't associate with a bargain menu. Due to dietary considerations, neither of us had the frites, but an adjacent diner's plate was heaped high with thin golden potatoes, as well as a grilled ham and cheese that looked like a marginally-healthier version of a croque-monsieur. Also on the menu was a steak sandwich and a chicken offering, I think. All choices come with a promise of in-and-out in 45 minutes--perfect for worker bees. The other, non-deal side of the menu features other traditional bistro lunch fare like quiches and salads at decent prices as well.
Taps on Two is a very elegant room, but it was largely empty during our lunchtime visit. I hope more people find out about this place so this offer continues. It would have been a nice inclusion in Phil Vettel's Friday section piece today on cheap downtown lunch options, if not for his apparent $5 price limit. Incidentally, the brat on pretzel roll at Keefer's sounds great. Anyone had this?
Taps on Two (in the Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel)
701 North Michigan Avenue
Corner of Michigan & Huron