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Music after dinner at Charlie Trotters -- Chicago?

Music after dinner at Charlie Trotters -- Chicago?

Old Jul 12th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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Music after dinner at Charlie Trotters -- Chicago?

Hi Fodorites --

My new husband (of one month) and I will be going for a 4-day long weekend -- our "mini-moon" -- to Chicago at the end of August. While we are trying to do the trip on a modest budget, we are splurging for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Charlie Trotters, our honeymoon dinner. Our reservation is for Saturday Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. and I am so excited!

Since we are eating so early, we will finish early too, and we are hoping to be able to walk somewhere nearby and hear some music and have a nightcap. We like jazz and blues. My NH used to live in Chicago but left about 6 or 7 years ago, so I'm not sure that places he remembers are still the same. Can someone suggest somewhere that I should research please...

Thanks!
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 02:27 PM
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Not that I want to deter you from going to Charlie Trotter's, since you are really looking forward to this, but...

Alinea is widely considered the best restaurant in Chicago.

In fact, it has been listed as the #1 restaurant in the U.S. (and highest rated in North America), as well as rated #7 in the world by the S. Pelligrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list published by Restaurant Magazine. This is not the first time it's been voted #1 by a major publication. (Gourmet magazine also voted it #1 a few years ago.)

If you are going to be spending that type of money for dining, would Alinea be of interest to you?

Secondly, you need to be aware than when you go to restaurants such as these, where you have multi-courses, you will be dining there for several hours. Many people don't feel much like going out after they have had that type of dining experience.
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Old Jul 13th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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thanks, exiledprincess, for the advice. We know we will be spending hours at dinner, that's why we made the reservation for 5:30 -- we're looking forward to a very leisurely meal. We don't expect to leave any time before 9 p.m. We live near NYC and are familiar with this kind of dining experience. We know that perhaps we will not wish to go anywhere afterwards, except to sleep, but in case we wish to walk off some of our dinner we would like some options.

And as for Charlie Trotter's v. Alinea, I do not eat meat or chicken outside of my home and I do not eat seafood at all (I am kosher), and we have chosen Charlie Trotters because of the vegetarian tasting menu. The mark of a master chef is not only creating tasty complicated dishes, but making common things extraordinary. I appreciate your suggestion but this way I can also have the full experience of a special evening, and not be relegated only to a salad.

any thoughts on nearby music venues, anyone?
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 04:45 PM
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Sorry if I offended you above, but you had indicated that this was going to be a "once-in-a-lifetime" dining experience for you both. From that phrase, I naturally assumed that you both were unfamiliar with it.

There are only a few restaurants in Chicago at this level. Basically, they are Alinea (as I mentioned, generally considered the best restaurant - and has been for years) and, in no particular order: Tru, Everest, Spiaggia and Charlie Trotter's. Perhaps L20, depending on whom you ask.

However, IMHO, if you are willing to pay $500+ for a meal for a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience, it's certainly the worth effort in sending an e-mail to a dining establishment which offers prix-fixe menus, to ascertain if they could accommodate vegetarians or vegans or if you have any other special dietary needs. I would think that they've had inquiries of this nature in the past. Don't know what the results would be but it's worth trying.

With respect to your question on music venues. There are two blues clubs fairly close, on N. Halsted, where you could easily cab it to them: Kingston Mines and B.L.U.E.S., which are across the street from each other. However, IMHO, you would be terribly overdressed, coming from Charlie Trotter's. They are frequented by DePaul U. students, as well as others. And, since B.L.U.E.S. is a very small club, which fills quickly, and you wouldn't even be arriving there much before 10:00 p.m., there is the possibility you wouldn't be able to get in.

The reason why I say cab it is because it would be about 3/4 of a mile between Charlie Trotter's and these two blues clubs. I assume that you will be wearing high heels and walking that far may not be something you'd desire, especially after that dining experience. My instinct is to tell you not to do that for safety reasons as well. Although Lincoln Park is considered one of the "safer" neighborhoods in Chicago, crime does happen. Walking around very well-dressed will bring attention to the both of you. Call me extra cautious, if you like, but...

This is for the benefit of others, as you apparently are uninterested in Alinea: As of August 1, there supposedly will be only 1 prix-fixe option: a 15 or 16 course menu instead of the two separate tasting and tour. Reservations are pretty hard to come by for months in advance. I haven't seen anything on Alinea's website about this yet but have heard and read of this change.

BTW, Chicago is going to be getting its own Michelin guide - in October.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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Correcting myself: The Chicago Michelin Guide is due out in November, not October.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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thanks so much, absolutely no offense taken. the kosher thing is sometimes awkward for me. Here at home in NYC I mostly frequent vegetarian restaurants or places with a lot of fish, and I just get concerned by the thought of not being assiduous enough in asking, and having something made with beef or chicken stock that is not mentioned on the menu. You are probably right that I could email and ask, but this time I just want to know I am 100 percent safe.

Thanks for the suggestions for the clubs. I'll do some research. I absolutely agree with the idea of taking a cab. I will probably not be full on alert status after a meal like that and it's much better to be cautious after imbibing what I'm sure will be several glasses of fabulous wines.

here's a sartorial question: My NH will of course be wearing a jacket to dinner, but do you think he needs a tie too? I suggested bringing one in his pocket.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 06:29 PM
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Great suggestions above, but I'd be remiss not to suggest Green Mill in the Uptown neighborhood.

It is real deal jazz (not light FM type jazz). It is also a unique venue in Chicago, opening in the early 1900's with a ton of history. You can read more on their site: www.greenmilljazz.com

The venue is gritty, crowded and loud, but I love everything about it. People will be dressed in anything from casual to completely decked out. You won't feel out of place. I've often gone in formalwear.

The neighborhood gets a bad rap at times (I'm right down the street once a week for a class without issue), so you might hear some chatter about that.

Would I walk all around the area at night? No.
But you'll be in a cab going door to door so no need for concern. It's about 15 minutes from Trotter's, so it's further than the other ideas above. That said, I've hopped in a cab many times from the South Loop or Loop to go there and it's worth it.

Consider checking it out!
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