We just returned from our very-last-minute weekend in Chicago. Thanks for the recs I got on the thread below. A few I did not see until post-trip.
I lucked into a 9:00 reservation at Spring, deciding that a wait at Avec might elevate my already pretty high stress-level. Spring was FANTASTIC. Everything about the experience was great.
I had Thai green papaya and shrimp salad (shrimp almost raw and DE licious). Husband had TWO apps: the potato ravioli and scallop and the evening's special, a deconstructed nicoise salad with the most gorgeous jewel-toned tuna, white anchovies, quail egg, tapenade.
My entree was scallop and oxtail, a weird combo that was beautiful. Husband has grouper...the least memorable thing of the evening. I took my server's suggestion of a Reisling and it was very nice.
Desserts were : Baba cake w/ rhubarb sauce and black pepper/sour creme ice cream. Ice cream was fabulous, the cake just OK. Husband had a choclate, mint and anise ice cream sandwich and a orange sherbert and cream soda float. Unique and enjoyable.
Saturday night was Osteria Via Stato. We went there last year about this time and I loved it. I think it has gone SERIOUSLY down hill. The marinated salmon crudo I had been dreaming of for a year was gone from the rotation. The pastas were lackluster (as opposed to 1 very good, and 1 nearly perfect last year). No salumi either.
I got the $28 "just bring me wine" deal, which I realize is a bit gimmicky, but last year I got three very good and interesting wines. Poured from the bottle so I could see the lable. This year, I got 3 very mediocre wines pre-poured into tiny carafes. If that was the "very special" tasting, I would hate to see the plonk they give you for the $15 "special" tasting. I'll not be back.
Tru: they don't seat for dessert-only until 10 on the weekend. But the host slipped us a couple of Madelaines.
Fox and Oble: I think the twice-baked Almond Croissant goes in my top 5 all-time pastries. I hope I don't go to hell for paying $27 for Vosges caramels, but so far, I'm loving them.
We went to Feast for Sunday Brunch. Since we loved Spring so much, we thought we would just wander around that neighborhood (w/ our suitcases, haha) and find a brunch. Too bad Scylla doesn't serve brunch anymore. Feast had a beautiful courtyard, but the food was totally mediocre brunch.
I ordered Lovejuice, which the menu called crushed strawberries w/ citron vodka and Champagne. Based on that description, I did not expect a strawberry slushie. Ick.
Then I ordered the fruit and yogurt plate. Boring winter melon and grapes, and a thimble of really crappy thin yogurt. Husband had basic eggs w/ some not-too-great sausage and we shared some acceptable blueberry pancakes. Not a bad brunch, but I could do better at home, which is not what I was looking for in such a great food town as Chicago. If I had seen the brunch menu at North Pond someone posted for me before we left, we would have been there.
The best part about Feast was it's proximity to a Blue line stop for the trip to O'Hare. All in all, we did OK, considering we found out we were going to Chicago late Wed. night.