Restaurant Week. It’s kind of like those cash rewards that stores will give you to redeem “$50 off your next purchase of $100 or more.” You probably wouldn’t go to the store and spend $50 in the first place, but now that you’re getting $50 for free, you kind of have to. Well played, advertising. Similarly, I normally would not find myself going to two three-course meals in two days in an already busy week, but three courses for $33? I mean, come on. Life’s too short to not taste all of Chicago’s finest’s variations on brussels sprouts.
Being honest though, I always really enjoy Restaurant Week. I love the luxuriousness of going out for a three-course meal with friends, and the time that all that food affords for good conversation. Plus it’s January/February and what else is there to do?
Camille & I were able to check out two really good restaurants last week, and since there are still a few days remaining, we figured it would be a good idea to write a review. The last day of CRW is February 12th, so if you want to go, be sure to make reservations ASAP. More information here: Chicago Restaurant Week. On with the review!
The first stop was City Winery last Thursday. Camille (Twitter-meister) won tickets to the Evan Dando show at CW, and since neither of us had eaten at the restaurant, we decided to make a reservation. I’m not sure why I’ve never stopped in before, but I’m definitely going to add it into my rotation. The restaurant itself has great ambience, the waitstaff was great, food was ah-mazing, wine was wonderful and the concert was just the icing on the cake. We made a last-second decision to skip the RW menu and order off the normal menu because of some dietary restrictions, but we were both extremely pleased with our meals.
Camille had the acorn squash which is on the RW menu, and said it was pretty much the best thing she’d ever had. I had the skirt steak which was complemented with roasted peppers, fried chickpeas, and wilted kale. I am extremely picky about red meat and don’t really have a taste for a lot of it, but this was melt-in-your-mouth good, cooked to perfection. Naturally we shared brussels sprouts which were great as well.
To cap off the evening we walked over to the adjoining room which hosts the entertainment. Now that I’m an old lady I have to say I love the idea of seeing a show or two sitting down rather than standing (hello AARP), and the ambience there was great. You can also order food in that room as well, which sounds like pretty much the perfect evening to me. A+, 4 stars, we’re done here.
The second stop was the following night, Friday, at Aquitaine in Lincoln Park. First off, Aquitaine is adorable. I suppose I could be seeing it through slightly rose-tinted glasses since I am a huge Francophile, but even if I wasn’t I would venture that I would still love it. It’s the perfect place to go when there’s a little snow on the ground – making the cozy and warmly-lit interior seem that much cozier, and the red wine buzz that much more necessary. Don’t get me started.
I went with three friends and we each ordered a slightly different thing, so between the group I think we covered most of it. I had the mussels and braised pork shoulder (because of aforementioned dietary restrictions I couldn’t have dessert), but other items on the table included potato leek soup, pear salad, turbinado glazed salmon, tart, and all of the desserts. Yup, that’s why we’re friends. We were all very happy with our choices and it was a great location to unwind and catch up on the news of the week.
So, all in all it was a great restaurant “week.” Keep in mind that while these are two great restaurants, there are probably also a hundred others participating that would be worth a try as well. We’ve compiled a few articles on your best bets if you’re trying to get in in the next few days: