Charlie Trotter's or Alinea
Taking my mother on a special trip to Chicago in July. The excuse is prime tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Kooza. Spending five days. I know somebody connected with Corteo (We supply some of their shows.), and they've set me up with a special tour of Kooza while we're in town.
Both Charlie Trotter's and Alinea are reputed to be 'top 50' in the world. True? Which should I opt for and why? There's a limit to how far over budget I can take this trip and am already there, so it can be only one:))
I cannot speak to Charlie Trotter's, but Alinea's left me cold. But, it was a weird evening anyway.
The most fun meal I've had in Chicago is at Russian Team Time. [russianteatime.com...]
I'm not usually big on the gimmick stuff, but this is just a fun place. And, it's real. I've been three times. (Note, last time was about three years ago, but I've sent several others and everyone came back with good reviews.)
July is a great time to be in Chicago. Take one of the tours on the river. I did this one and it was a riot. The guide hated every building in the city and could tell you why.
It helped that they had a bartender who made very strong gin and tonics.
(From their site:)
> Russian Tea Time reinvented nostalgic cuisine of the former Soviet Union.
After a statement like that, ya, I think I'd need the place to be recommended first... ;)
balam, that statement is true. And, when you look at the menu, you think, "Gad! There is nothing to eat here." But, the food is good. I can't speak to how "real" it is. But, if you're looking for something different and fun, Russian Tea Time (weird, off-putting name even) fills the bill.
I had a very very good meal at Trotters about 18 months ago. If you know the London restaurant scene I would have put it at a par with Aubergine, not quite Ramsay quality.
However there is a fabulous restaurant called Carlos just outside chicago that I really would recommend you go to, I think it has a 29 in Zagat for food, have the tasting menu, it is amazing.
> when you look at the menu
Ooo, I did! The Stalin Softened Siberian Shoe Leather with a Ukranian Scrub Grass side, drizzled in a light vodka sauce sounds quite tempting! ;)
But seriously, Russian Tea Time does sound like a nice place, and I'd certainly have to show up for tea time! Tea is, after all, the Elixir of Life. :)
Not falling into the fine dining category, I recall a deli restaurant on the top floor of the Water Tower (? - the building just south of the John Hancock Building). There was a menu of rib-sticking goodness! But that was almost twenty years ago - too early for Russian Tea Time, and too long to offer valuable restaurant reviews...
Oh Ya! Take the architectual river tours! It is a must. Very fascinating.
They have a special food that Chicago is famous for .... ummmm its called Steak!
Chicago is home to the origonal Mortons, if you want to spend some serious cash and enjoy one of the best steaks you will ever find. Plus there are a 100 other excellent steak or "Chop" houses.
The origonal Pizza Uno, with the deep dish pizza is there too.
Chicago is a great town, I am sure you will have a blast. The big art gallery near Grant Park is worth the effort too.
I wholeheartedly agree with Rugles. The architectural boat tour is a highlight to any Chicago trip.
I would also recommend the comedy club Second City. I can't even begin to name all of the performers that got their start or performed for a season there but the list includes comedians like John and Jim Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey.....
I'm leaning strongly to Russian Tea Room; I think that she would love that. Would not have come up with that one on my own. Interesting comments on the river tours. I had been leaning toward probably doing either a lake boat or a river boat. Sounds like we might really like a river tour and that is the way to go. How early on those reservations. I've locked up most everything that is settled; Kooza, air, Allerton. Four month lead time on the kitchen table at Trotter's if I go that route.
Have heard some really good things about Tru. Some of the reviews I've seen on Trotter's seem a bit mixed considering that we could eat for a week for the cost of one evening:))
It's a weird name. Russian Tea Time, not room. The Russian Team Room was in New York.