Restaurant week offers 10 days of dining deals
02/15/2012 10:00 PM
Chicago boasts more than 7,000 restaurants ó enough to dine at a different spot every night for 20 years. As if thatís not enough to get you out of the house, Chicago Restaurant Week starts this Friday.
Restaurant week gives eateries the chance to showcase what they do best with prix fixe menus priced at $22 for lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner. This fifth edition of the dining extravaganza put on by the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau highlights everything from stalwarts like Topolobampo to more recent arrivals including GT Fish & Oyster.
Participation couldnít be easier: make a reservation at eatitupchicago.com, then request the Restaurant week menu when you get there. Well, that first part may be easier said than done ó at this point, the hot spots are booked. Unless dinnertime means 4 or 10 p.m., forget about getting a table at Paris Club or Michael Jordanís Steakhouse this week. Of course one of the 200 other options is sure to spark your interest. Here are three to consider.
If you havenít made the trek down South Halsted Street to Nightwood, do it now. Opened in 2009 by the team behind Logan Squareís Lula, the ingredients are so fresh that the menu is handwritten. Donít be alarmed by the desolate locale in a corner of Pilsen, inside youíll find a rustic, chic atmosphere and inventive food that makes the most of whatís in season. Highlights from their Restaurant week menu include handmade pasta in the form of foie gras agnolotti (a kind of ravioli) and meyer lemon garlic bread with gorgonzola. For dessert, try the salty caramel-sourdough pudding.
Itís not surprising that the bold, showy Japonais boasts an outpost in Las Vegas, but the original has been sitting alongside the north branch of the Chicago River since 2003. Part lounge, part restaurant, the dťcor wows in a loud way. To make an evening of it, hit the downstairs lounge before or after dinner. Instead of offering special selections, Japonais has highlighted items from their sushi and small plates menu, but there is plenty of good stuff to choose from. Standouts include Wagyu carpaccio, chestnut-encrusted chicken and soy-braised short rib. And with less than stellar-sounding dessert options, you might want to take them up on their offer to swap out the third course with a glass of wine.
West Loopís Sepia blends the focus on simple dishes highlighting seasonal ingredients of Nightwood with the visual drama of Japonais, although it is a more refined drama. The space, which was a print shop in the 1890s, has an opulent, turn-of-the-century vibe. The Restaurant week menu includes inspired American dishes like house-cured sardines with almonds, fennel salad with blood oranges and smoked rainbow trout with dill and apple. Here, you are going to want to save room for dessert. The Rose Yogurt Bavarian Cream with Coconut Cake sounds much more interesting than a glass of red.