Recent Reviews

Re: “Spacca Napoli

I was really excited to try this place but was pretty disappointed. The room is OK, a little bright but typical of a pizzeria in Naples. Service was so so, as was the pizza. We didn't try anything else since we were in a bit of a hurry. 2 things were really suprising...first, they didn't cut the pizza. We asked to have it cut and the server brought us a cutter to do it oursleves. Now, I HAVE eaten in pizzerias in Italy, including Naples and never was my pizza delivered uncut so I can't beleive it's the "authentic" way to serve. Secondly, they didn't bring plates. The only plate on the table was the one the pizza was delivered on. Again, I doubt this is the "authentic" way. If it is, break with tradition and give me a friggin plate,thanks. All in all it was a tad expensive for what it was, pizza was OK but not great, service was so so but I will give it another try

Posted by Jennifer Borchardt on 04/17/2006 at 11:23 AM

Re: “Capital Grille

Though the atmosphere seems a bit contrived (fox hunt paintings, old leather bound books etc)Capital Grill is comfortable. As far as Chicago steak houses go it's as good as any and seems a little more reasonably priced. The calamari is outstanding-and not something I would usually order. It's lightly fried with cherry peppers-a little spicy. The steaks are always delicious and the service is good.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/15/2003 at 2:36 PM

Re: “Magnolia Cafe

What a great place, just what the neighborhood needs. The room is small but comfortable with great lighting. We dined at about 8pm on a Sunday night, our server seemed at first a little less than thrilled to see us but quickly warmed up. The menu is enticing, the wine list is brief but wonderful. All selections are thoughtfully chosen and very reasonably priced. Magnolia serves brunch on Sunday (the menu looked wonderful)and it was really nice to see the chef (and owner)still around at 8pm. We started with calamari which was great, followed by a smoked trout salad which was very good but not very salad like. We also had the butternut squash soup drizzled with truffle oil which was suggested by our server. I was prepared to be underwhelmed by a porridge like bowl of mashed squash, boy was I wrong! This soup is DELICIOUS. It was more broth like in consistency, really flavorful. It had a taste we couldn't identify but were told by the chef was really good quality maple syrup, yum yum. A very pleasant suprise. Next we had wonderful braised short ribs (apparently a signature dish of the chef) and pork tenderloin. Both were great and the portions were generous. Our dessert was an interesting cheesecake/crepe thing-it was very good. We also sampled some homemade ice creams that were phenomenal. This is the type of restaurant that combines sophisticated cusine, a neighborhood atmosphere and a good attitude. I wish them well.

Posted by Jennifer Borchardt on 11/19/2002 at 3:54 PM

Re: “North Pond

What a wonderful dining experience. The Arts and Crafts (think Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan) space is beautiful and comfortable, nestled on the lagoon in Lincoln Park. Look for the valet stand by Columbus Hospital since parking is basically non existent. The hostess (and service in general) was gracious without being cheesy or patronizing. The bar is a little small but they seem to not overbook the restaurant so waiting in the bar is probably not really an issue. We were seated in the newly enclosed area looking out on the lagoon and the skyline. The corner of the room has a fireplace (not on on this 80 degree night) that I'm sure adds a romantic glow to the room in winter. The menu was appealing and well articulated and avioded the trap of over pretentious descriptions. It offered a 5 course summer tasting menu which looked delicious but the rest of the menu was also so appealing we decided to go it on our own. The wine list is a "less is more" approach. Not tons of selections but every offering is a gem-much like the menu. We started with a glass of champagne which was delicious with the amuse of basically, Lobster jelly with a creamy caviar something or other...just damn good though I can't really decribe it. I can say it did the job of the perfect amuse,it left us wanting more. For appetizers we ordered duck with a poached egg and mussels and clams with fresh pasta in a pisto broth. Both outstanding. For salads we chose the summer beets and heirloom tomatoes, fresh and flavorful and left to shine on their own without heavy dressing or saucing. The tomatoes could have used a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt which I had to aks the waiter for. He gladly brought it to me with no attitude or "the chef prefers blah, blah, blah..." The entrees we selected were both fabulous. One was a crabcake, shrimp and lobster in a tasty but delicate sauce. The other was absolutley the most delicious pork chop I've ever tasted. It was tender and flavorful with summer corn and some fresh peaches. The portions are much more generous than I would have thought for a restaurant of this caliber. We were very full so chose to bypass dessert but our waiter brought us some delicious cookies and a scoop of wonderful, creamy vanilla and plum ice cream-gratis. The best dining experience I've had in years, and really a great value.

Posted by jenb on 09/14/2002 at 11:38 AM

I dined here after a Cubs game with some out of town friends. We arrived around 8:30 on a Sunday night obviously form the game and the staff was very inviting. The restaurant was almost empty so I wouldn't have been suprised (especially on a Sunday) to get a less than welcoming attitude. They set us a table outside and the waiter was prompt and accommodating. They made us a family style salad, a good suggestion to get things going. The wine list could use some additional selections, especially whites. There food is so good but the wine list does not match up. We ordered carpacio-very generous portion with celery, truffle oil (that had flavor) and good quality, shaved parmesean. They also made us a 1/2 order of pasta carbonara-the best I've ever had. Silky and flavorful but delicate-not overly rich and egg-y. The pasta bravida is delicious, a spicy, garlicy red sauce with basil that is above and beyond the basic spicy marinara. Other selections at the table were the pasta w/ shellfish, ravioli (both excellent) and a simple but delicious grilled salmon. It was a really delicious meal and a great value. It was nice to enjoy such a great meal -and not bar food- after being at a Cubs game all day. The one negative-the server added on an 18% gratuity which MAY have been printed on the menu (I think standard practice is for parties of 8 or more but I'm not sure since I usually don't dine out in large groups) but he failed to mention it or point it out on the check. Honestly it seemed "buried" in our total and it was shear chance that we noticed it. His service was great and we would have easliy tipped him over 20%. I was suprised he didn't point out the automatic addition-I can't help but think he saw an oppurtunity to possibly take advantage of us. We almost tipped him a second time, which is what I believe he was hopiing what would happen. I admit that might be blowing this out of proportion. It's not about the money at all because I'm a very (almost abnoxiously so)generous tipper. I think ANY time a tip is added it should be pointed out to the person paying the check. Other than that it was a great dining experience.

Posted by jenb on 09/14/2002 at 10:58 AM

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