Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: Cherry Circle Room (Lunch)

Chicago Athletic Association

Cherry Circle Room, a new restaurant at the Chicago Athletic Hotel, was named one of the best new restaurants in Chicago for 2015 by Time Out Chicago and Chicagoist, so I decided to give their lunch a try during Restaurant Week. The restaurant is tucked away in the very back of the second floor at the Chicago Athletic Hotel, on the other end of winding wooden hallways.  Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: Boka (Part 1)

Boka RW16 1

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Boka is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago or the fact that, at $44 for four courses at a Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s one of the best deals in all of Restaurant Week. Boka is, in fact, the restaurant by which I judge restaurants during Restaurant Week – whether or not I would have rather been at Boka instead. Therefore, I’ve decided to visit Boka three times this year during Restaurant Week in order to sample as much of the menu as possible. For this, my first visit of the year, I’ve chosen a seafood-focused meal progression. Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: NoMI Kitchen (Lunch)

NoMi RW16

NoMI Kitchen at the Park Hyatt offers a three-course lunch for $22 during Restaurant Week, which is a terrific deal – compared to their regular menu prices, it’s similar to getting a first course and dessert for free. Compared to my previous lunches for Restaurant Week 2015 and Chef’s Week 2015, my main course fell a bit short, but the dessert was distinctly better. The service was also more attentive.  Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: The Duck Inn

The Duck Inn

For the start of this year’s Restaurant Week, I travelled all the way to The Duck Inn, recipient of a 2016 Bib Gourmand, in Bridgeport. Unlike many restaurants, The Duck Inn doesn’t provide multiple options for most of their Restaurant Week courses – only for the third course. And although the menu seemed rather standard (soup, green salad, pork or chicken for the main course, and crème brûlée for dessert), the food turned out to be interesting and well-executed. The service is also excellent, competent yet warm and welcoming. Continue reading

Review: Fulton Market Kitchen

Fulton Market Kitchen

On the outside, Fulton Market Kitchen doesn’t look like much, nestled among warehouses and loading trucks, farther off the beaten path from their neighbors The Publican and Next, only a block or two away. Inside, however, is a different story entirely, as the restaurant is filled with bold colors and a rotating art collection. The menu, too, is interesting, although it perhaps not as successful as the decor.Fulton Market Kitchen

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Review: NoMI Kitchen (Chicago Chef’s Week 2015)

Lunch is often the best value for Restaurant Week and Chef’s Week – three courses for $22 – and NoMI’s lunch is no exception. Unfortunately, NoMI’s Chef’s Week offerings seem more half-hearted than my Restaurant Week experience. Also, service is distant, splashing water on my table without ever noticing, and dessert seems like an afterthought. Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Nightwood

Nightwood

Given its Pilsen location, I’ve only made my way down to Nightwood* a few times. However, Nightwood’s executive chef and owner Jason Hammel is also the owner of Lula Cafe in Logan Square, which I like, so I’ve given it a few chances. Nightwood is a nice restaurant, but given how out of the way it is for me, and how many good restaurants there are much closer to where I work and live, I am not likely to be back very frequently.

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Sepia

Sepia

Michelin-starred Sepia has a standing spot on my Restaurant Week list. Sepia’s Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman has, among his numerous distinctions, a James Beard Foundation Award nomination for Best Chef: Great Lakes and a win over Iron Chef Marc Forgione on Iron Chef America, so I jumped at the chance to visit during Restaurant Week last year. Then, as now, I enjoyed a pleasant meal in a polished surrounding, although I find myself not as impressed as I’d like to be.

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: NoMi Kitchen (Lunch)

Located at the Park Hyatt in Gold Coast, NoMI has a great view of the Chicago Water Tower and Michigan Avenue. Their lunch is one of the better deals of Restaurant Week (three courses for only $22, which is the typical price of their lunch entrees), and even better, they offer lunch during the weekend.

NoMi 1

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: The Lobby

The Lobby

I experienced The Lobby at the Peninsula for the first time last year during Restaurant Week. They turned my head with the special touches – the incredible porcini soup amuse bouche, the bread service, the mignardises, the individual pound cake with the check – and the elegant surroundings. Since that first visit, I’ve returned maybe half a dozen times, unfortunately with somewhat mixed results.

After Chef Lee Wolen left, The Lobby made radical changes to the menu, largely simplifying to something closer to a more standard hotel restaurant than a fine dining destination. Judging by this year’s Restaurant Week offerings, they have also eliminated much of what I loved about the restaurant – no amuse, no mignardises, no individual pound cake as a little goodbye. Those are small touches, I know, but they really added to the luxurious, pampering atmosphere (and they were delicious, frankly more memorable than some of the proper dishes). That said, the Restaurant Week menu is also offered at a lower price point this year ($33 for three courses, instead of the $44 last year).   Continue reading