Have a quick "in and out" visit to Chicago coming up this week. Will have a car, so don't mind a little drive. Staying downtown (North State Street.)

I'm meeting an old school chum, and am looking for a nice restaurant. I'm travelling light, so will be dressed casually. Ideally some place that serves small plates and is wine friendly. How is Chicago for BYOW?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

PH
Original Post
PH, Avec on Randolph St. comes to mind when you say small plates and wine friendly. We brought our own when we went there, but I don't remember if or what the corkage was. Some of the CWM might know.

Speaking of the CWM, it sounds like your visit is too short to get together with them. Too bad. Great bunch of people.
Too bad the trip is so short PH. I'll be there next week and have two dinners set up. A great little place to BYO is near Wrigleyville and is called Tango Sur. They are a Brazilian steak house, damn tasty and very reasonable. I would recommend brining your own stems if possible. We will be there on Monday.

Hopefully we can meet up on another trip. Perhaps Napa? Wink
quote:
Originally posted by benchland:
Too bad the trip is so short PH. I'll be there next week and have two dinners set up. A great little place to BYO is near Wrigleyville and is called Tango Sur. They are a Brazilian steak house, damn tasty and very reasonable. I would recommend brining your own stems if possible. We will be there on Monday.

Hopefully we can meet up on another trip. Perhaps Napa? Wink


Thanks for the tip benchland! Sorry to miss you on this trip. One of my mid-decade resolutions is to drink more wine with forumites, so I'm sure we'll hoist a glass before too long!! Cool

PH
quote:
Originally posted by cultbronson:
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Have a quick "in and out" visit to Chicago coming up this week.
PH


is that what you guys are calling "it" these days?
Big Grin

PH,
You may want to raise your OL flag over on winedepot - most are hangin’ over there.
PH:

The Chicago Tribune just reviewed a little BYO restaurant Thursday called schwa. It received three stars, a superb rating from this particular critic. Just be sure to bring your own stems.

The CWM used to go this joint when it was known as Lovitt's, it's very casual and quaint.

Some recommended restaurants I've been to recently that have corkage of $20 are:

Le Lan - a French/Vietnamese venture from a couple of Chicago's most renowned chefs

Saltaus - contemporary cuisine. The veal cheek is amazing. Right across the street from the Randolph Tasting Room, so you can have a flight of wine before of after.

Kiki's Bistro, as Board-O has mentioned, is also terrrific. The duck confit in particular.

Hope you have a great time and hope to share a glass with you the next time you are in town! Smile

Cheers,

Otis
Board-O and otis,

Thanks for your advice. I'll look into your suggestions. It's nice to have local knowledge when travelling to an unfamiliar place. Cool

The next trip to Chicago will be with much more advance planning, and will definietly involve meeting as many of the CWM as possible.

PH
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Board-O and otis,

Thanks for your advice. I'll look into your suggestions. It's nice to have local knowledge when travelling to an unfamiliar place. Cool

The next trip to Chicago will be with much more advance planning, and will definietly involve meeting as many of the CWM as possible.

This one is a "wild hair" impulse thing. You gotta get a little impetuous as you approach the half century mark, n'est ce pas? Wink

PH


have at it, not so young "fellow".
quote:
Originally posted by otisabdul:
PH:

The Chicago Tribune just reviewed a little BYO restaurant Thursday called schwa. It received three stars, a superb rating from this particular critic. Just be sure to bring your own stems.

The CWM used to go this joint when it was known as Lovitt's, it's very casual and quaint.


Cheers,

Otis


Otis, have you guys been there yet? Is it the same people as Lovitts or just the same physical space?
steve8:

Haven't been to schwa yet. My understanding is that the chef is new (the Lovitt's chef moved to Walla Walla), but that he worked for Grant Achatz - who is one of the top 2 or 3 chefs in Chicago.

We should go there the next time you're in town.

Cheers,

Otis
So ended up going to Saltaus last night.

It's in a neat part of town that apparently has gone through a bit of a renaissance since Oprah Winfrey built her studio in the neighborhood. I'd love to go back and check the area out more thoroughly when I have some more time.

The space at Saltaus is beautiful, and except for an occasionally eccentric CD player, the atmosphere was very nice. Interestingly, even though our reservations were a bit early (7PM) the place was completely empty when we arrived. Not a soul. A couple came in about halfway through our visit for a drink, and a foursome of guys showed up just as were finishing up our meal, but I was blown away at how slow the place was, even on a Thursday during Passover and Easter weeks.

We ate light and shared a couple appetizers:

Asian Inspired Hummus, Crisp Teriyaki Mushrooms and Black Sesame Seed Flat Bread

and

Beef Carpaccio, Fennel Salad, Citrus Vinaigrette and Aged Goat Cheese

I scanned the wines by the glass selection to see what I could come up with, but the mixtures of flavors and ingredients were pretty challenging. We started with, and stuck with some Moet et Chandon Brut Rose NV with the dishes and it worked quite nicely.

The hummus with crispy mushrooms was a big hit, and the combination of the rich hummus and the sweet and crunchy mushrooms with the killer flat bread was a memorable dish.

The carpaccio used some very high quality meat, and had potential, but the salad of fennel with citrus vinaigrette competed with the flavors of the beef and aged goat cheese, and the dish never came together completely. Great ingredients, just not a great meld of flavors.

For dessert we split:

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Torte with Mango Cardamom Sorbet

with some espresso. Again, the flavors seemed to compete with each other rather than complement, and alone the cake was wonderful. The sorbet was interesting, but a little strange. Together there was no magic.

The chef has apparently recently changed, and although the guy shows a great deal of talent and selects very good and fresh ingredients, it's hard not to get the feeling that he may be trying a little too hard. All in all, a very nice night at a lovely place.

PH
Thanks for the follow-up report, PH. Glad you had a nice time at Saltaus. Too bad it was deserted. I noticed the same thing when we went out for dinner Saturday night. Action was sparse in the city and we were able to secure a 7:30 reservation at Avenues (Peninsula Hotel's restaurant) with only one day's notice. Must have been the holiday effect.

Hope we can get together the next time you're in town. Smile

Cheers,

Otis
Any of those places are easily reached by cab.

If you want high-end byo, make your reservations at Schwa now. It is getting a lot of press and because it's so small, it's really hard to get into. While the food is great, the service is not always the best.

I would recommend dinner at Blackbird, which is next to Avec. Other good choices: Naha, Timo, Fulton's on the River. If you like steak, David Burke's Primehouse in the James Hotel is new and already well-regarded. As opposed to most steak places in the city, they dry age their beef on premises. Most Chicago restaurants wet age.

There are a lot of very good Indian, Thai and other ethnic BYO restaurants I can recommend but they are not in the downtown area. They are all in the city and a cab ride away but I don't know how much time you have to explore.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Kiki's Bistro, 900 N. Franklin for great confit and very fair Burgundy prices.


Still looking for one more place for dinner this weekend.

One of the places we have booked is KiKi's this Friday night.

Would love to find a great Italian restaurant with a nice wine (Italian) list not too far from Downtown.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
The best place in the city, imo, is The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, but it's quite expensive. I don't know if they have any Italians on their wine list. I skip that section.


Board-O- when was the last time you were here? How many dining nights have you spent in Chicago in the last 5 years? 10 years?

I thought so.

Wine + art -

Italian restaurants in Chicago are a dime a dozen and tend to be neighborhood places. For downtown/non-neighborhood places for Italian I would suggest:

1)Mia Francesca (on Clark street, in the Wrigleyville area)- but it's loud, crowded, and I don't think they take reservations. A lot of fun. I don't know about the wine list but I think it's unremarkable. The food is very good.

2)Francesca's on Taylor- their second restaurant, in the Old Italian neighborhood. Quieter and cozier than above. I think reservations are accepted. Again, I'm not sure about the list.

3)Rosebud on Taylor- the real deal old italian place in Chicago. Portions are bigger than anyone can handle, and the food quality is generally excellent. This place is a bit trippy- you'll feel a little like you're in the Godfather. IIRC they have a pretty good wine list.

4)Phil Stefani's 437 Rush. Right downtown, an Italian steak house. I love the food and the ambiance here. Pretty swanky, a martini kind of place. Wine list is decent, but a little overpriced.

5)Erie Street Cafe- similar to 437 Rush but a little quieter and I think it's got a good list.

The reason I'm not sure about the list at many place is that many restaurants accept BYO for a corkage fee. Call to ask.

One last recommendation (if you can get in)- Crofton on Wells. It's contemporary American food, but so well done and not overpriced. I'm sure it's sold out this late in the game.

Check out: metromix for restaurant reviews and to find out what's going on around town.

Have a great time.
wine + art:

grossie's list is a good one. The largest and most extensive Italian wine list in Chicago (and the Midwest for that matter) is at Vivere in the Italian Village right in the middle of the Loop. They have a 45,000 bottle cellar, with over 500 selections from Italy. Cuisine is quite good, with an emphasis on Northern Italian.

It's very popular with the theatre crowd, so you may want to book a table after the early rush.

You'll like Kiki's. It's perhaps my favorite bistro in Chicago.

Cheers,

Otis
Terragusto is a new, neighborhood Italian BYO at 1851 W. Addison. The pastas are all handmade in house and are wonderful. They

Campagnola in Evanston features all organic meats and produce from local purveyors. The atmosphere is pretty laid-back and the service is very good.

Cafe Spiaggia and Spiaggia are excellent options downtown. If I were staying downtown, I'd go with one of those.

You'll really enjoy Kiki's.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
2004. 14 nights in the last 5 years at 11 different restaurants. How did you know? Roll Eyes


11 Restaurants! That must be about 80% of the restaurants in the whole city. Wow, I'm sorry, you really are an expert.

Why didn't you call when you were here? Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
Many thanks to grossie,Een, otisabdul and Board-O for all your help!

I will book one tonight.

Thanks again,

w+a


That Een guy might be OK but I'm not sure I'd trust those other guys. I've drank wine with them and anybody that'll drink wine with me is obviously questionable. Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
Many thanks to grossie,Een, otisabdul and Board-O for all your help!

I will book one tonight.

Thanks again,

w+a


That Een guy might be OK but I'm not sure I'd trust those other guys. I've drank wine with them and anybody that'll drink wine with me is obviously questionable. Big Grin



Thanks for the warning. Wink
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
Many thanks to grossie,Een, otisabdul and Board-O for all your help!

I will book one tonight.

Thanks again,

w+a


That Een guy might be OK but I'm not sure I'd trust those other guys. I've drank wine with them and anybody that'll drink wine with me is obviously questionable. Big Grin

Especially that Board-O. He opens all of his wines way too early in their lives.

eta: I barely started getting into wine before I moved away from Chicago, so I don't have any restaurant reccomendations, but for a wine store, it is always an experience to shop at Sams Wine and Spirits at about North and Sheffield.

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