Chicago Restaurant Week 2017

This year, Chicago Restaurant Week, took place from January 27th through February 9th, celebrating 10 years! Over 300 restaurants featured special prix fixe menus starting at $22 for brunch (this was new this year) and lunch, and $33 and/or $44 for dinner. This excluded beverages, tax and gratuity.

This was my first year, but not my first “Restaurant Week.” Bloomington, Indiana hosts Devour Btown. I loved the idea of having prix fixe menus to attract new customers to local food joints in my college town. I think it’s a great way to try new things at a reasonable price. If anyone is in the southern Indiana area, Devour Btown will take place from February 25th to March 8th, featuring 26 Bloomington restaurants. Also, the Indiana University Campus is beautiful!

When I saw Chicago was having a restaurant week I was:

  1. Excited! I love trying new places!
  2. Why didn’t I know about this previously?
  3. Overwhelmed. I wanted to try so many! Unfortunately my wallet and stomach are not big enough 😦

Doing research on where I wanted to eat, I found a great Chicagoist article by Anthony Todd: The Ultimate Guide to Not Getting Screwed by Restaurant Week 2017. Now, I don’t mind spending money on good food but I want it to be good food and restaurant week should be a deal. I learned some places offered a $30 dinner value at the $33 price. It’s only $3 but wouldn’t you want to get the most bang for your buck?

This article was an informative read on this event and had avery helpful spreadsheet. I looked at Todd’s comments on restaurant’s highlighted in green (he liked and recommended) and did some research on reviews for restaurants I thought were interesting and wanted to try.

I had a lovely dinner date with my sorority mom at Ema‘s, a mediterranean food place. Now, this place wasn’t highlighted at all (Todd either couldn’t tell if it was a deal, it broke even, or he wasn’t fond of the restaurant and/or food options), but it was 5 courses for $44 and the menu had new and interesting sounding foods. I don’t have pictures since I got caught up in catching up and eating delicious food.

Here’s what we had:

Spreads: spicy hummus and toasted almond and garlic served with fresh, warm pita bread
Mezze: avocado and sweet pea and crispy halloumi cheese and dates
Soup: celery root soup
Plates: chicken kefta and grilled octopus
Dessert: honey pie and a dark chocolate torte

We shared everything so we tried basically the whole menu and everything was good. My favorite spread was the toasted almond and garlic and the celery root soup was amazing. This was my second? time trying octopus but it had a good char and a nice smokey flavor. I loved the kefta (meatball) and the honey pie was heavenly! We passed on wine, although, they offered an interesting selection. I was comfortably full and didn’t feel guilty since I felt most of the offerings were pretty easy on the waist line. The portions weren’t large but not too small, perfect for sharing.

I had a nice, romantic date with my significant other at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse. I suggested this since my boyfriend is recently becoming a steak man and he loves basketball, particularly the Chicago Bulls. After reading Todd’s article and spreadsheet, I found that this was one of the best deals of restaurant week. I figured, when else will we be able to come here and not break the bank on a delicious steak dinner? A win-win and let me tell you, everything was spectacular!

Our first course was garlic bread with a wisconsin roth kase blue cheese fondue. I’m not a blue cheese fan but this was delicious. It was sharp but not overpowering. The bread was a perfect balance: crisp but thick and chewy with a tasty garlicky (sp?) butter spread.

For the second course, we choose the black bean coconut soup and the caesar salad.

Third, we both ordered the filet mignon (my boyfriend was between that and the NY strip but we asked the waitress who was a total sweetie and she immediately said the filet mignon). This was served with aligot potatoes (cheesy potato puree) and a sauce marchand de vin (red wine sauce). This was seriously the absolute best steak I have ever had. It was incredible, remarkably tender and cooked entirely perfect. The sauce was delicious as well and the potatoes were so creamy.

We were stuffed! This was a decent sized steak. However, we had to make room for dessert. Both were definitely delectable. I loved the freshness of the panna cotta as it was served with grapefruit and a passion fruit sauce. It was tart but the creamy sweet vanilla bean panna cotta was perfect.

The best steak dinner I’ve ever had! An incredible value, but I  still loved every bite and would certainly come back, regardless. I would’ve paid more for this dinner. I definitely want to try Table 23!

We gave brunch a shot at GT Fish & Oyster.

3 course at $22, not bad. There were 2 choices for each course so we each choose one and shared.

First: monkey bread and a sweet crepe tart. I liked the money bread best. It came with a toffee topping and whipped cream.

Second: crab benedict and a breakfast sandwich. Both were tasty.

Third: shrimp and grits and fried chicken and waffle. I loved the grits, very well seasoned. The chicken was okay, a little dry.

I was satisfied, not stuffed, but that’s okay. It was Super Bowl Sunday so we knew we were going to smash later on on junk food.

That’s the extent of my experience this year. All 3 places were enjoyable. I loved the event but I would certainly recommend doing research to make sure you’re getting a good deal and some delicious food.

I really wanted to try Ada St., they were offering dinner inspired by various president’s favorites for $33. I’ve heard great thing about this place so I’ll probably go soon anyway (:

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