I just wanted to report on some good meals that I had in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. My husband, 7 month old daughter and I were visiting from NYC.
Normally, before we go anywhere, I always do tons of research, make reservations ahead of time, and bring lots of Chowhound restaurant suggestions with me. But this time since we were in town visiting some friends (who are also chowhounds), I left it all up to them. We stayed at the Sutton Place Hotel (for the second time) on Bellevue & Rush, which is a great location for us since our friends live very close by on Lakeshore Drive.
We arrived on Friday in time for lunch, so we checked into the hotel and then headed over to Water Tower. When we were in Chicago 4 years ago, my husband had a pasta dish that he liked at Foodlife and he wanted to go there again. Not my first choice, but it was convenient and an easy place to bring my daughter to. I had a Thai chicken wrap, which was good, if a little too spicy for me. My husband ended up getting rotisserie chicken, which he thought was just okay. Again, not the greatest food, but it worked.
Friday night, we went over to our friends apartment and they ordered in food from Bella Notte. I had been there several years ago. It was good then, and it was good now! We all shared a house salad and a caprese, baked mostaccioli, gnocchi with ricotta, chicken vesuvio and chicken marsala. It was enough food for an army (and we are all big eaters!).
Saturday, our husbands went to the Cubs game, and while my friend and I were out and about (with her 2 kids and my baby), it started raining. So we ducked into the Bloomingdales building at 900 N. Michigan and had lunch at Potbellies. It wasnt that busy and when we got on line to order, one of the women working there told us to just take a table, since we had all the kids and strollers, and she took our order at the table. She was very nice and accommodating to us. I had a turkey sandwich with everything on it, which was pretty good.
Saturday night we left the kids with a babysitter and went to X/O on N. Halstead. I cant remember everything we had, but some of the highlights were the spicy rock shrimp noodle salad (loved this!), the crabcakes, a scallop dish with pumpkin dumplings, the ribeye and sautéed mushrooms. All of the food was really tasty, and much of it had a nice, spicy kick to it. The waiter was very knowledgeable, but he suggested that we get 3 dishes per person. We didnt get that many dishes and we didnt need that many dishes. I think we had 8 or 9 dishes total (plus the good bread and dessert), and that was more than enough. And again, were all pretty big eaters. The Chocolate Orgasm dessert that we shared was mediocre. With a bottle of wine and a few mixed drinks, the total came to $40 per person. Cheap by NYC standards. A fun dinner!
Sunday we went to check out Millenium Park, and on the way back we stopped in to eat lunch at Grillers Café on Pearson. Certainly nothing fancy, but I had a delicious grilled chicken sandwich in a pita with honey mustard. And homemade potato chips. Very fresh and satisfying. My friend had a chicken Caesar salad wrap that looked nice too.
Sunday night our friends had made reservations at Opera, but after a discussion the night before about how my husband loves seafood, they decided to change the plans and take us to Joes Seafood/Stone Crab, which they go to fairly often. We started off sharing the seafood chopped salad, and my husband had a crabcake. I had crabcakes as my entrée, and my husband had the Alaskan king crab legs, which he loves. Dont remember what our friends had. We also had an order of the lyonnaise potatoes (yum!). For dessert, we shared key lime pie, chocolate fudge pie and peanut butter pie. The food was excellent (and plentiful!) and we had a really enjoyable dinner.
Monday morning my husband wanted to go to the Original Pancake House for breakfast before we left town. We could look down at the place from our hotel room, so as soon as he saw the line beginning to form, he ran down to get on it. Just as he got to the front of the line, I and our friends arrived, so the timing was perfect. It was a bit chaotic, since we had 4 adults, a 3 year old and two 7 month olds, but the waitress was as accommodating as she could be on a busy holiday morning. I had the apple pancake, which was a bit too sweet and gooey for me. We were in and out pretty quickly, which was good. If my husband (and our friends 3 year old) wasnt set on going there, Id much prefer to go to a more diner-like place. Id never wait on that huge line, which seems to be there all the time. But it was fine.
Its sort of funny--our friends always want to impress us with their restaurants, since we live in Manhattan and dine out pretty frequently (or used to before we had a baby). I think that they think that their restaurants wont be on par with ours. Well, I'm happy to say that we had terrific food and a great time!