Chicago Restaurant Week- 2011

After digging myself out of the blizzard of 2011 and wading through yet more snow the following weeks, restaurant week was upon Chicago.  Oh where to start??? So many restaurants to choose from, narrowing down how many to try, times to go, etc.  And restaurant week can’t begin without a celebratory cocktail from the #1 master mixologist in the city, Charles Joly.  This dude has won every beverage competition since he was legal drinking age.  I headed over to The Drawing Room where he works Friday night and ordered up The Venerable.  Absolutely none of the ingredients on the cocktail menu even rang a bell.  That’s what I love about Restaurant Week.  Nothing is better than trying new things and waiting for the unexpected.  Well, this drink delivered!  The cocktail had Benedictine, Grand Marnier, Drambuie, and lemon juice.

Next up was Riccardo Trattoria. All I can say is I must have ordered wrong.  I’m willing to give this place a second chance because I did taste some things that were scrumpious, just not what I ordered.  Nuf’ said!

Lunch was at Bistro 110. This is a French restaurant right off of Michigan Avenue across from the Water Tower.  Perfect place to unwind and grab some grub between hitting the shops.

Traditional French Onion soup. Yes, that is a whole bulb of garlic that has been roasted in the background.  They served that along with butter to spread on the bread.

Half of a roasted chicken with thyme- succulent, moist, and enough to feed three people!

Dessert was Gateau Breton.  This is a traditional French cake with caramel sauce from the Brittany region of France.

Final stop on the restaurant week tour was dinner at Perennial.

This is the ‘parlour.’ (photo compliments of yelp.com) It was converted into a makeshift dining room for the overflow of diners.  Which would have been okay, if the tables didn’t feel like they came out of an outdoor seating box from Home Depot. I ordered the confit duck croquettes, grilled Berkshire pork belly with braised red cabbage, and for dessert the crispy hazelnut bar.  Overall, I’d give the restaurant an average rating.  This place is supposed to be phenomenal and what I’ve discovered about restaurant week (my opinion only) is that some of the menu items don’t showcase the best the restaurant has to offer, but more of a turn-key approach.  What’s quick to get out since so many are people are ordering.  The best dish was the Berkshire pork belly- flavorful and a great mix with the red cabbage and apple puree. The chef is switching over next week to Paul Virant (current chef of Vie in Western Springs).  I’ll be back for sure to try out the new menu.

March is upon us.  Up next month is a visit from Mom & secundo mama plus a ‘special’ trip.  Can’t wait to share two of my favorite places.  The river is getting ready to turn green here in Chi-town for St. Patty’s. Anyone have a good corn beef and cabbage recipe to share??

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