Archive for May, 2011

Roundup: FDL

February: Marigold

Hood: Uptown

Food: Indian

Weather: Slushy and awful

Ambiance: Candlelit, romantic, exotic. Couples, families, groups of friends.

Verdict: Spicy, authentic, flavorful.

                                                                                                

March: Boka (restaurant week)

Hood: Lincoln Park

Food: Indeterminate but ostensibly “Contemporary American”

Weather: Pelted by random hailstorm

Ambiance: Cirque du Soleil-ish tented interior meets mid-90’s upholstery, plus group of women apparently auditioning for Real Housewives of Moscow.

Verdict: (waggles hand from side to side in an indication of mediocrity)

                                                                                                            

April: The Bristol

Hood: Bucktown

Food: Mediterranean-inspired, locally sourced & seasonal

Weather: The sun shone bright on my old Chicago hooooome

Ambiance: Salvaged wood, communal tables, specials written on wall covered in chalkboard paint, owner helping servers expedite and bus. Friendly and breezy.

Verdict: Will return at earliest convenience

                                                                                                           

May: Paris Club

Hood: River North

Food: Durr

Weather: First warm day since last summer. Joyfully sat next to wide open windows.

Ambiance: Paris bistro circa 1920 plus flat-screens. Subway tile and mirrors. River North yuppies mingle with suburban cougars and aging “cool hip guys” who wear those long square shoes and flared jeans and untucked shirts with crosses, eagles, and/or skulls.

Verdict: Solid coq au vain and Roquefort-crusted filet. Thai-spiced mussels seemed inconsistent with Parisian concept, but were naturally devoured nonetheless.

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BREAKING: Blogger Remembers She Has Blog; Posts For First Time in Months

Wow, the time really gets away from you, huh? When you’re….doing…nothing in particular that’s different from what you were doing before.

Big things going on over at HPHQ (Hungrypants Headquarters). I had my first GOOD EXPERIENCE AT BIG STAR last month. I swear. I think the secret to managing this place is just patience, patience, margaritas, cheladas, and copious amounts of patience. B. and I went for dinner on a Friday night, and were quoted a 3 hour wait by the doorman, which I suspect is a ploy to keep the hayseeds and riffraff/streetrats away from the inner sanctum. By claiming an absurd wait time, Big Star thereby drives away the tourists, the impatient ones, the desperately uncool and maintains a clientele that knows what it is to really earn their table, diners who can brag to their friends that the wait “wasn’t too bad” and that the food was “uber-authentic”.

I become one of those tragi-comic people that rainy April evening. We disregarded the doorman’s ridiculous assertion and forged ahead, putting our names down on the list with the pleasant list-minder girl. Yeah, pleasant I said. It’s like they got a whole new staff! The girl sympathized with us, and seemed almost upset to inform us that there would in fact be a long wait. Having already actively decided to change my ‘tude, I cheerfully told her it was okay, and we’d be by the bar so she could find us once a table opened up.

Svetlana the Russian Bartender tried to break my spirit by actively ignoring me as I waved my fist full of singles right in front of her Slavic nose, but I won that little game by just shouting our drink order right at her face. She grudgingly assembled our cheladas and give me the stinkeye, so from then on I made B. place our drink orders.

Long story short, I’d say we stood for about an hour and a half by the bar, periodically checking in with List Girl to see how far we’d moved up. I didn’t mind it; Big Star is excellent people-watching and they were cranking out some great classic rock on the ol’ Victrola. We stood and talked and drank and it was quite pleasant, really. Miraculously, four bar seats opened up all at once and we swooped in for two of them, deciding to just fuck it, forget the table, we’ll eat at the bar. Full food service at the bar is a key perk of Big Star, and really made the difference between a crappy  night and a decent one. We chowed down happily (the food really is excellent), paid without hassle, and bounced off into the night.

I won’t take back everything I’ve said about them, but I have no qualms about extolling Big Star for finally, at long last, providing me with a decent dining experience.