Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf, Chicago, 2/24/22

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Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf is a large steakhouse offering traditional cuisine with a French flair.  The place has no windows and so is quite dark with yellow lighting and music in the background.  There are a number of rooms with lots of booths, free standing tables and bar stools.  Lots of mirrors on the walls, candles on the table and large chandeliers give it a ‘cabaret’ feel.  It is a sister restaurant to Au Cheval, which does not take reservations.  The service was great and the bar made good strong cocktails.  In addition to the menu there were a couple nightly specials, one fish and one meat. The server was well informed about the menu and able to guide our selections and quantities.  They now have a second location in Las Vegas.  It is a fun and tasty place to eat. Continue reading

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, Chicago, 2/24/22

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Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen is a huge place with a cafeteria style serving line.  It is a traditional Jewish deli that has been open for more than 75 years.  Going through the line you could tell that many of the customers are regulars that know the servers.  In fact during the pandemic, July 2020, when people were not dining-in, Manny’s alerted people on social media that they were struggling and needed support.  Supporters lined up around the block to order to go and keep the place in business.  They offer the usual meats but also salads and various hot dishes, with a couple specials every day.  They also have a bread and pastry shop which you walk through as you exit. It seems to have survived and is worth a visit if you are in the area. Continue reading

D’Amato’s Bakery and Subs, Chicago, 2/24/22

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D’Amato’s Bakery and Subs has been a family owned business since 1970, specializing in Italian breads, pizza, sandwiches and pastries.  They use a coal burning oven that has stood since 1912 in a building across the street. There is no eating inside the place but just around the corner is a heated tent attached to one of their walls with tables and chairs.  You order inside and they bring the food out to you in the patio.  There were counters with lots of food in the cases but most was uninspiring.  We were just there to split an Italian sub sandwich that the ride share driver raved about.   The subs come in 10″ or 12″ for a $1 difference.   Inside of it was a good balance of meat and cheese but the bread was way too dry and thus tough.  It was adorned with a pale tomato and we paid to add extra peppers.  They added a kick but not enought.  The lettuce was shredded and the meats were ham, salami and mortadella with provolone cheese.  It needed herbs or something to spark the flavor.  The staff was super friendly but I’m afraid most of the sub went in the trash. Continue reading

Moody Tongue, Chicago, 2/23/22

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Moody Tongue expanded their brewery to include The Bar, a casual restarant with snacks and drinks, and The Dining Room, a fine dining option which is paired with beer at the highest caliber, striving to unite beer and cuisine in an unprecedented, interactive way.  Chef Jared Wentworth was recruited by Moody’s President and Brewmaster Jared Rouben when they expanded their operation to include fine dining in 2019.   The small 28 seat dining room offers only a 15 course tasting menu alongside specialty beer pairings.  The Dining Room has recieved a 2 Michelin star rating.  It’s a dark room with dark wood walls, black tables and chairs and low lighting.  Music is in the background and some windows looks out to the street but they are covered with blinds.  They offer 2 seatings (5:30 & 8:30) each evening that start promptly and have a tough cancellation policy, so be sure before you book.  Everyone seemed to get the beer pairings with their tasting and they are a bargain at just $45pp.  It was a younger, more casual crowd but the service people felt programmed with their introductions of the dishes and often picked up the plates while you were still chewing.  The plates were often lost with so many ingredients. Continue reading

Kasama, Chicago, 2/23/22

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Kasama is a bakery and modern Filipino restaurant located in the East Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago.  They serve breakfast and lunch but started an evening tasting menu last fall.  It is a small place and you place your order at the front, where they also have the pastry counter.  Small tables line the wall on either side with bench seating along the wall and bar stools are on the opposite side in one room.  The other room has the open kitchen.  After you place your order you are assigned a table and they bring the food out to you.  Music is in the background, the tables are small and the wall behind the bench is windows to the street.  They seemed to also do a healthy to-go business.  Everyone was really friendly and the food was great.  I’d love to go back for the evening tasting. Continue reading

Ever, Chicago, 2/22/22

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Ever is the newest venture for Chef Curtis Duffy and his business partner Michael Muser, opening in 2020.  Duffy and Muser had previously collaborated at Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel and Grace.  Ever offers an 8-10 course tasting menu and has already received 2 Michelin stars, being on a rocket trajectory toward 3.  The exterior has an exterior sign that blends well into the wall and inside the gray  tones blend well with the shiny black tables and light wood dividers.  The large bare tables are well spaced and sound dampening in the ceiling keeps the noise level low with light music playing in the background.  Lights are lowered in the very tasteful room.  Tons of service personnel work to bring out dishes in unison and be on top of any needs.  Wine and non-alcoholic pairings are available for the menu but we chose to order our own wines from the large list. The menu is a surprise but they gift you with a copy of the night’s menu as you leave.  The pacing and portion control were both excellent, no lags and no rush.  The food is all beautifully presented. Continue reading

The Dearborn, Chicago, 2/22/22

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The Dearborn opened in 2016 in a large corner space on the Loop in downtown Chicago.  Two sisters with lots of experience in the hospitality industry joined together to open the restaurant inspired by Chicago’s past, with scratch made approach to the food. Windows to the streets make up a couple walls of this multi room place. A combination of booths and wood topped tables as well as stools in the bar fill the space that has music in the background. Service is friendly and efficient.  They offered umbrella bags as well as a coat hanger stand before we were seated in the comfy large booth.  We had a wonderful relaxed meal while watching the place fill up at noon. I would go again. Continue reading

Smyth, Chicago, 11/17/18

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exterior

Smyth has a large open kitchen (with a wood fire), a small waiting area and 2 Michelin stars.  Upstairs from it is a ‘sister’ restaurant with a more casual mode.  Lighting is lower with plenty of candles in the room.  A variety of music plays in the background, including rap, on a real turntable.   The polished wood bare tabes were well spaced and set on a concrete floor with a wood ceiling overhead.  A couple of large wood columns are in the room, but they appeared to be structural.  It serves only a tasting menu which you designate the length of when you make your reservation.  Ours was the Omaha tasting.  Wine pairings were available, as are non-alcoholic pairings, but we ordered our own wines.  Service was excellent and friendly and pacing was good.  This meal started strong and never let up the quality – put it on your list if you’re in Chicago. Continue reading

Monteverde Restaurant, Chicago, 11/17/18

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Monteverde is a large place on a corner so two sides have windows to the street.  Walls are decorated with pizza peels and mirrors and a really long bar adds seating.  High top tables sit opposite the bar, that is decorated with hanging pasta, TVs and windows into the rest of the kitchen.  On one end is the pastry chef and cabinets of their labors.  The main dining room is filled with closely set small bare wood tables, benches and chairs as well a good sized area of pasta and cookware items for sale.  The menu is all a la carte and many items are designed to be shared.  We ordered a lot of things to try and intended to share all.  Some were quite good but others were really lacking.  Pacing for all was extremely rapid and plates and flatware were not replaced between several of the courses.  Service tried hard and they did refund the price of 2 unacceptable items as well as bring a complimentary dessert.   This place was really bustling, so more is good than not but they also have some kinks to work on. Continue reading

Oriole, Chicago, 11/16/18

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Oriole is located on an alley that the Uber driver didn’t want to go down because he was sure that a 2 star Michelin restaurant wouldn’t be ‘down that little alley’.  However it was and worth walking those extra 20 feet to the subtly lit door.  Once inside there is a small waiting area where we were served a warmed spiced drink.  They actually sent us home with the herbs and recipe to recreate at home if desired.  After we had chatted with the hostess and checked out coats she opened what looked like an old elevator door and we were led into the nice dining room.  There were only about ten 2-top and two 4-top tables, so I wouldn’t call it large, but the tables were well spread out and good sized.  The lighting was lowered and the exposed brick walls were lined with bench seating equipped with pillows.  From the wood ceiling with exposed ductwork,  a number of  light fixtures hung that came in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Some glass bricked windows, jazzy music in the background, an open kitchen, lots of candles, some  interesting art work and wood columns completed the decorative elements.  There was a definite hum in the room but no noise problem.  They have been here for 3 years and offer one tasting menu that is full of wonderful flavors for all guests.  Wine pairings are offered (2 levels as well as non-alcoholic) but we chose to order our own wines.  Pacing was great and portion control perfect. Continue reading

Roister, Chicago, 11/16/18

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Roister is a good sized place that opened in 2016 with a large bar surrounding the open kitchen that also has seating in addition to the dining room. It has been awarded one Michelin star.  It is a part of the Alinea group but the food is under the supervision of Chef Brochu.  We were there for lunch/brunch and I noticed the dinner menu offers some different  options.  The casual atmosphere had fairly loud background music and comfortable bar seating.  In the back was a pile of wood that is used in some cooking.  The lighting is subdued but spot lights provide plenty of light at each seat.  The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful, however the prep people that stood right in front of us seemed to have no interest in interaction with guests.  The menu had a number of interesting sounding dishes so we ordered a series of plates to split. Continue reading

Alinea, Chicago, 11/15/18

Entrance
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Alinea opened in 2005 and is Chicago’s only 3 star Michelin restaurant.  This is a second visit for us, but we read about their big redo around 2015 and thought maybe things had changed, especially since Alinea means “the beginning of a new train of though.”  Grant Achatz is still the chef and he is no more personable than he was before, however most of the staff were very friendly and exceptionally attentive.  What I objected to before has just become even  more prominent.  If you’ve read many of my write ups, you know flavor is most important to my dining experience.  This place is all about the theater and show of your dinner.  You move around, lots of props are in play (music, smoke, ceiling art, etc.) and there is really a show of all the staff moving about servicing the tables.  Flavor is too far down on their list of priorities for me, but if you’ve never been to a place with so much show and innovative cuisine, it is worth one visit.  But be forewarned, you will leave with a lot less money and still hungry. Continue reading

Bellemore, Chicago,11/15/18

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entrance

Bellemore is a large place on a corner, with two sides having windows looking outside and an open kitchen in the back corner.  The wide wood plank floor is matched with exposed duct work in the ceiling.  Rock music plays in the background and there is a large bar area as well as a number of different seating options.  Tables are fairly large and the place is well lit, but then we were there during daylight.  The striking design is highlighted with by two large birdcages with good sized birds.  Also the second room we saw had huge mural of owls.  Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos has been the Executive Chef since 2017 and wanted to create a dining experience that would resemble eating at a friends house.  I think I’d like to have a lot of these friends that would invite me over!  It is food full of flavor and texture.  At lunch there is a smaller menu with lots of plates meant to be shared.  All the staff were really friendly and provided efficient service.  The pacing of the meal was good and the staff were willing to bring out each dish as a separate course with clean plates and flatware. Continue reading