Many thanks for the suggestions Chowhounds provided for our recent few days in Chicago. As a token of appreciation, I wanted to report back our reviews of where we dined.
Good but not great, personally don't see what all the hype is for at it. We liked the atmosphere, but be forewarned: it is LOUD (which didn't bother us, but don't go for a quiet, romantic evening). Drinks were creative, fresh (husband had a celery gin & tonic and I had the Pioneer - Pine Needle whiskey, campari, citrus). Pickle tots, a cross between fried pickles and tater tots that have been raved about everywhere, were one of the highlights of our meal. Get them. The Japanese sweet potatoes were nothing more than sweet potato fries with miso cream. The hake in a piquant piquillo pepper broth was the better of our entrees and good. Unfortunately we thought the milk braised pork shoulder was basically ham chunks. Tasty but nothing to die for. The short ribs were likely a better choice. We would not go back to Trencherman considering all the other choices in Chi town.
A once in a lifetime meal. It lived up to our expectations - and more. We were blown away, as you'd expect from TRU's legacy (and price point). We opted for the Chef's Collection nine course tasting menu, which ended up being more like 14 courses with the amuse, "linens," and mignardises. Food was creative, delicious doesn't do it justice, stunning presentations, and service matched the food - impeccable. Hubby noticed the "synchronized" serving before I did (where the servers surround your table and present the dishes at the EXACT same time). Favorites were the ancho cured duck breast, seared foie, and prime ribeye. I am not a dessert person but I particularly enjoyed the deconstructed campfire s'more.
LOVED LOVED it. The concept of small plates/half orders for sharing is how we really enjoy eating. Went for a late lunch and server was most helpful in telling what to order - and what not. You gotta appreciate that honesty. We had the half orders of everything, which was the right amount. Bacon jam was a bit unusual to what we've had before (loved the hint of coffee), topped with creamy brie and served with toasted baguette slices (we were fighting who was going to lick up the last smear of it from the mini cast iron skillet). We also had the tuna tartar tostadas, sweet corn creme brulee (lovely salty-sweet combo, dessert wanting to pass itself off as a veg dish, but that was okey dokey!), duck-juniper & pistachio sausage, veal meatballs, and finished with the crispy red lentil cake, which was my fave of what we ate. Highly recommend Sable.
Al's #1 Beef
I just had to throw this in. Classic Chicago street food, stand-up eating, messy (no less than eight napkins), and we understand why it's consistently ranked #1 beef in Chicago. We ate at the Al's in the Loop and ordered our beef with spicy peppers and dipped. Incredibly tender and the fries were terrific. I appreciated the smaller sandwich, too, which was still quite substantial. A carnivore's delight.
Hash House a Go Go
We ended our dining whirlwind in the windy city with brunch here. Fun atmosphere, family friendly, excellent service. Crazy huge portions. Hubby got the signature sage-fried chicken with bacon-stuffed waffles smothered with a maple syrup reduction and crispy leeks. Catchy presentation as it comes with a large knife stuck in the chicken and a big sprig of fresh rosemary. He loved it. Chicken was extremely moist, light crispy coating, melt in your mouth. I had the veggie house hash, ordered with poached eggs that turned out to be wayyyy over-cooked (yolks were thoroughly cooked with no "runny". I should have sent the back), but the buttermilk biscuit that I only managed to eat the top of was excellent. Overall, we enjoyed it.