Tuesday, February 06, 2007

From Ambria to Weber Grill. And a Whole Lot In-between.

Note: This post was written by first-time blog author Peter Blocksom!

Ambria. Terragusto. Kitch’n. Weber Grill. Singha. Su Casa. Vong's Thai Kitchen. Shaw's Crab House. Giardano's. Big Bowl. Robey's. CPK. Lalo's. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba. Kaze. The Melting Pot. Brasserie Jo. Pizzeria Due. Rockits. Brazzaz. The House of Blues. Ruth Chris' Steak House. Quartino. Toast. Fogo de Chao. Japonais. Piazza Bella. The Black Rock. Park Grill. McCormick & Schmick’s. Naha. Ben Pao. Keefer's. Flatwater Grill. Rosebud. Carmine's. El Tinajon. Scoozi. Coobah. Riojah.

These--and dozens of others--are places that you'll most likely never read about here. (With the probable and notable exception of the absolutely perfect Ambria. Okay, and Kaze and Riojah, too. ) It's not that each of these restaurants had not their charms and reasons to write home about. It's just that, well, we got a little overwhelmed.

Now that we're cozily settled in to our condo our first few months in Chicago seem a distant memory. We’re a long way from El maps. From the confusion found at those 10-way intersections. And, thank God, far from our viewing of more than 100 properties before finding the one.

Before we were settled, we'd spent about 90 days in a state of nomadicism, moving from corporate apartment to hotel to corporate apartment and back again, interspersed with about 20 trips back and forth to Cincinnati. And each one of those days found us eating out at least one meal per. And we don't eat breakfast and take more lunches at our desks than not. See my point? We ate out for at least 75 dinners. That's a lot of reviews to write and with all our new-city responsibilities, something had to give.

But we don't want to short-shrift some of the wonderful places we've found in our first six months. You've read about some. Here are some quick-hit impressions on some others. In no particular order, of course.

Quartino. Always packed, yet always fast, Italian tapas are the thing here. Order a bunch and the servers bring whatever's ready whenever it's ready. Fantastic bruschettas and cheese are what we get here. And wine and meatballs, too.

Kitsch’n. A short two blocks from our house, we stopped in one night because it was the only place still open. If you remember the 70s, you'll be right at home in the decor. Blow off your diet and chow down on the Twinkie tiramisu. Yeah, you read that right. Twinkie.

Kaze. Another walking-distance restaurant, this is spare but elegant spot serves up the best sushi I've ever eaten. Imaginative ingredients and one-of-a-kind sauces are the specialty. I think we'll go again soon and you'll be treated to a real review.

Piazza Bella. We love this place. Cozy, neighborhoody, full of Roscoe village families. The food is traditional Italian. And in my book, that means absolutely delicious. This is another place we've been several times.

Japonais. High-end sushi and high-end celebrities. Although I admit to liking the sushi at Kaze a bit more, this place screams swanky. The night after we dined there with a dozen or so work colleagues, we heard Oprah and Jennifer Aniston stopped by.

Lalo's. A lot like Don Pablos, but better. Every entrée comes with tortilla soup. Get the guacamole and watch it made tableside. Huge portions for small money.

Terragusto. When picking our condo, we picked right. This is another excellent spot just a short stroll away. Choose from a small menu that’s kept that way to ensure only the freshest of foods are served. Try to sit at the pasta-making table in the front window and watch the bustle on busy Addison St.

Now that we’re sufficiently settled, I think the blog will make a come back. So whether it’s a guide to all that’s good to eat on Roscoe Street, or one-off looks at the places we’re chowing, be sure to stay tuned.

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