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Recent Reviews

Re: “Glenn's Diner

Glenn's Diner has a lot going for it. However, there are some breakdowns in the service that make we wary about ever returning. On a recent Saturday evening, at an early dinner hour, my husband, toddler and my in-laws came to Glenn's for dinner. We were met with a nice welcome and seated right away. Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the wide variety of fish selections. So we ordered. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. And we were by no means the only party that was having this experience. There seemed to be a low rumble of discontentment throughout the dining room. It did not help that several parties had small children with them and small children cannot wait 45 minutes for their food. Nor should they have to. We ordered a plain burger for our daughter and asked them to bring it as soon as it was ready. Not only did it not come before our food, it actually came after the adults' food. Our waitress explained that she had had to ask the kitchen to make the burger over because they put Russian dressing on it the first time. I guess our request for a plain burger patty for our food-allergic daughter was too tricky for the kitchen to get right. All that being said, once our food came, it was excellent. The fish was all fresh and perfectly prepared. But if waits like we experienced are common, we simply can't go back.

Posted by Emily Paster on 05/15/2006 at 10:29 AM

Re: “Cafe Absinthe

Some friends and I had a moms' night out at Cafe Absinthe on a recent weeknight. I made a reservation, but that was overkill. We were there for almost three hours and there were never more than one or two other tables occupied. That being said, we had a nice experience. Our waiter was attentive, but never interfered with our socializing and no one minded when we lingered after our check was paid. The food was quite good. I started with the fava bean soup which had a silken texture and nice flavor. A nice spring dish. My friends mostly had salads, all of which were fresh and nicely prepared. Three of us had a halibut entree that was excellent. The fish was flaky and tender and the accompanying sauce and vegetables had great flavor. The entrees just all seemed overpriced by $5-6. It really flet more like a $20 entree place than a $25 entree place. Nothing was wrong with the meal per se; it just seemed as if they were over-reaching. It was not special enough to make me want to return, especially at those prices.

Posted by Emily Paster on 05/11/2006 at 9:40 AM

Re: “David Burke's Primehouse

My party was very excited to try David Burke's, which apparently is the first steakhouse in Chicago serving dry-aged, as opposed to wet-aged beef. While our dinner was perfectly fine, it was nothing spectacular and we left somewhat disappointed. First, the good: the popovers provided in lieu of bread are delectable and made this South Beach Diet advocate fall off the wagon. Two of our party enjoyed the Caesar salad, prepared tableside, very much. I would get that again. Another highlight was the mojito -- truly the best one I've ever had. And we also liked the cute presentation of the cheesecake lollipops at dessert. Service was friendly and enthusiastic. Indeed, our waiter appeared to have drunk the David Burke Kool-Aid. But part of what was so disappointing was that our waiter's grand promises about the life-changing properties of the signature "porterhouse for one" were not fulfilled. Yes, that was the rub. Three of our party had the aforementioned porterhouse, on our waiter's recommendation, and no one thought it particularly special. My husband said he would not put it in the top three steaks he has had in Chicago. Indeed, it seemed overly fatty to everyone, and while the seared crust had a nice flavor, no one thought the flavor penetrated the meat. I personally ordered the pork shank because I had heard it was good. Again, I was disappointed. First, the on-the-bone presentation made it somewhat difficult to eat. And while the crispy skin was tasty, the layer of fat between the skin and the meat made one feel pretty disgusted after only a few bites. For sides, we sampled the onion rings -- cute presentation, but finish them before they get cold -- and the asparagus and shallots, which were fine. All in all, a good meal and a pleasant experience, but again, nothing transcendent. The worst part of the evening was dealing with the valet parking. On a rainy night there were only two attendants, which were not even close to enough. Patrons leaving the restaurant waited for over 20 minutes for their cars, which is not how one wants to end an evening of expensive dining. David Burke would do well to address that problem as soon as possible.

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Emily Paster on 04/30/2006 at 3:07 PM

We had a nice dinner at Menagerie. The food was uneven, but it was a pleasant enough experience overall that I would recommend it. Menagerie falls into that category of restaurants that Chicago does well in: upscale casual with entree prices ranging from $15 to $20. But Menagerie had a few special twists that set it apart. First the chef de cuisine and the pastry chef are constant presences in the dining room. Second, the service is both knowledgeable and friendly. Third, they have some cute innovations like their "tapas" portions, which enables you to order four tapas-sized portions of the menu appetizers for $15. Great for sharing and having lots of different tastes. We enjoyed the appetizers quite a bit, especially the duck confit penne and the goat cheese arepas. Entrees were more mixed. The pork loin and its accompanying stuffing were delicious, but the butternut squash ravioli was bland and the sauce gluey. Desserts are a standout. Our table opted for the chocolate fondue which was a fun communal activity and came with some creative items to dip including carrot cake and peanut butter cookies. The room is pleasant (although the art on the walls was atrocious) and you can actually hear your tablemates, which is increasingly rare these days.

Posted by Emily Paster on 02/06/2006 at 10:21 AM

Re: “Kitsch'n River North

Kitsch'n River North has a lot of appeal for those who like its sister restaurant, Kitsch'n on Roscoe, but hate the long waits for brunch. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn't live up to the original. We went to Kitsch'n River North for brunch with friends and our toddler. We were seated right away -- always a plus at brunch -- and were quite taken with the large room and its different seating areas. Our waitress was friendly and things seemed off to a good start. But it went downhill from there. Our food took way too long to arrive -- tables who had sat down after us received their food before we did. The coffee drinker couldn't get a refill to save their lives. And when our food arrived, there were two mistakes -- scrambled eggs instead of fried and fried chicken tenders insetad of grilled for our toddler -- and one person's food was cold. The waitress blamed the kitchen for it all, which may well have been true, but still, no one likes excuses. While I did like the fact that our toddler could run around in the lobby outside while everyone finished their food, that's not enough to make me want to come back.

Posted by Emily Paster on 11/21/2005 at 11:05 AM

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