Hot and Cold….Restaurant Week Continues….

Well, we are almost half way through restaurant week and I’m somewhat happy to report that I’ve dined at two additional spots…hence the hot and cold.

Earlier in the week, a friend and I visited Bistro Campagne…an adorable spot with one of the cutest patios in the city (at -45 with the windchill, we elected to sit inside).. This is a great dining option any time, but their restaurant week selections are none too shabby.

First up – mussels! Always a favorite and these are wonderful – light wine broth and tons of those little mollusks (or bivalves if you prefer). I basically ate these for dinner since I ended up taking my second course home. Yes, that’s correct, I was full after the first of three courses…so be prepared!

I had chicken (the mushroom sauce was light and wonderful) and then a divine bread pudding (I really don’t see enough of this dessert on menus..).

All in all, a wonderful dinner minus a small parking mishap on the way in. Great portion size, delicious food and a really cute atmosphere.

Now…on to restaurant number three… Balsan.

I had been wanting to try this place and perfect – they’re participating in restaurant week!

Now, I don’t want to suggest the meal wasn’t good, as it was really really delicious. However, there is no value in coming for restaurant week. The $44 menu is one of the higher priced restaurant week menus and they still suggest you add additional sides and appetizers to round out your meal. Throw on drinks at $20/each and dinner easily turns into $100/person. I suspect I would have ordered differently had it be a la carte… Oh – also, they include tip, so don’t tip twice!

My starter was the artisan board. This was mostly great – amazing pate, buffala mozzarella, sausage, and some accompaniments. It was a great size and quite fresh and delicious. One cheese was rather bland, but the rest made up for it.

Dinner consisted of a mushroom pasta (though I tried the hot pot, too..wow, that was spicy!). The pasta was light and really flavorful.

Dessert was a marscapone tart – sounded weird, but an excellent execution.

Verdict on Balsan was that it was very good, but don’t go for restaurant week if you use restaurant week to find values. Also, there are a lot of fancy restaurants at this price point with amazing food, so keep this in mind, but it’s not the only option.

Copyright Diary of a Reformed Food Wimp, 2014.

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Capital Grille – Succeeds Again!

Wow – as usual, Capital Grille is a restaurant week standout! (Ok, I know I haven’t visited any other spots yet…but I’m sure I won’t change my opinion here).

First of all, this is one of the best restaurant week deals. For $33 per person, you can put together a nice little tasting menu that would cost $65-$70. There’s also the ability up upgrade for $10 with the lobster…which we didn’t do, but it did look delicious on the other tables. There’s also a wine list of restaurant week pairings. I tried the Cabernet and it was a lovely accompaniment to all of my courses.

First up, the clam chowder (always a fav with huge pieces of clam and a creamy, but not overwhelming base). I could devour a stockpot worth of this stuff.

I chose the citrus cedar glazed salmon as my next course (I know – horrors – not steak!!). I just love their salmon a I think it’s one of the best executions I’ve had as many restaurants over/under cook salmon. My dining companions both had steak – and based on the amount of food left on the table, everyone loved their dishes.

Dessert for me was flourless espresso chocolate cake with a berry sauce and berries. Wow. It was gone in about 5 seconds! In years past, dessert always included ice cream but I think the new options are better (cheesecake and the chocolate cake).

Delish and divine and a great atmosphere = a perfect start to the week!

Tonight, Bistro Campagne!

Copyright Diary of a Reformed Food Wimp, 2014.

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Chicago Restaurant Week!

It’s finally here! One of my favorite weeks of the year – Chicago Restaurant Week. This year promises a great line up of amazing restaurants and, for the first time ever, 2 full weeks of the event. Also a nice change…that the event isn’t coinciding with a major exhibition at McCormick Place (which makes it much easier to get reservations).

Usually, I try and score reservations as early as possible and this year is no different.

Tonight starts round 1…Capital Grille. Usually I dislike chains, but I have to give an exception to Capital Grille. It’s amazing food in a great atmosphere.

Coming up over the next two weeks…

Summer House Santa Monica
Balsan
Nightwood
GT Fish and Oyster

A few new spots and some old favorites. Hopefully this year will be as good as the past few.

Copyright Diary of a Reformed Food Wimp, 2014.

Happy hour or any hour…

I am not at dinner this evening at The Purple Pig, but a picture similar to the one below was sent my way. I can’t mask my jealousy because I had random frozen food from my freezer this evening… So, I figured I would just have to write about it. This is the best execution of bone marrow in the city.

Purple Pig, loved by the bib gourmand folks, is one of my favorites. They’ve got none other than the ‘pig platter’ (delicious meat arranged on a wooden pig plate) as well as varied cheeses and small plates. However, without fail, I have the bone marrow every visit. Just a nice sprinkling of salt and it’s perfect (and I love that the salt is in a little container for each visitor to apply to their taste’s delight). It’s truly a melt in your mouth experience that even a bone marrow newbie will enjoy!

Copyright Diary of a Reformed Food Wimp, 2014.

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Restaurant week is almost here!

Have you started seeking out your restaurant list for restaurant week Chicago?  I’ve had this mapped out for at least a week as this is one of my favorite Chicago events!

Now, there are a few ways to strategize…I will offer my ideas, but whatever you do, pick a spot and experience Chicago!

1 – (My favorite way) – pick the best restaurants in the higher price points.  This allows you to try pricey spots without a huge investment.  If you love them, you can then keep them on your list for future visits!  This is how I tried Blackbird and Naha for the first time.

2 – Pick your favorite restaurants and try out the restaurant week menu which often has new items. Chicago q by the way – amazing restaurant week menu!  I’ve been there a ton, but they never disappoint!

3 – Go all out and pick some place you’ve never heard of!  Want to try that spot in the ‘burbs?  Do it!  It’s a great opportunity to try someplace new for lunch or dinner that you wouldn’t normally visit at a reasonable price point.

Whatever you do, read reviews and the restaurant week menus first!  There’s one spot (which I will not name) who normally offers a 3-course menu at a really great price…restaurant week is not the time to try these types of restaurants.  Also, remember to make reservations early as these spots fill up fast as many of these restaurants are already very popular.

Happy Eating!

© Diary of a Reformed Food Wimp.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.