Jul 082010
 

Flat bread and salad

Flat bread and salad are just two courses in the chef's tasting.

Mercat a la planxa is not the new kid on the block anymore — in fact, we’ve given it love before — but last week I was reminded that its still got game. I like to revisit our old favorites whenever I can swing it, and I’d never tried the tasting menu there even though I’ve been there often. The verdict?  It’s simply spectacular.

At $55 per person, we got so much more than our money’s worth, with a wonderfully excessive parade of dishes finding their way to our table. We quite literally waddled out of there after sampling the best of the menu. I think that’s worth a shout out, especially since Friday is fast approaching and you may be looking for weekend dining options. Mercat’s chef’s tasting is a bargain for the quality and quantity. Trust me — when you put yourself in such capable hands you won’t be disappointed.

I look forward to going back!

Mercat a la planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
Get directions

Feb 272010
 
Chicago Firehouse

The Chicago Firehouse was built in 1905, and there's still fire polls in the bar.

The last stop on Chicago Bites’ 2010 Restaurant Week tasting tour was The Chicago Firehouse, a steakhouse located in a charming building that used to be a real Firehouse. It was built in 1905, and much of the original structure has been preserved both inside and out, including the intricate tin ceiling, the tile walls, and two fire polls in the bar.

Steakhouses are too often cut from the same cloth, from their dark wood-paneled interiors to their uninspired side dishes.  But the traditional fare at Firehouse, like the building itself, has a bit more character, and its Restaurant Week offerings reflected that.  For example, the Cesar salad starter was light and fresh, and the eight ounce CFH prime steak main dish was topped with a blue cheese crust and red wine sauce that was a wonderful complement — not at all overpowering.

We wandered off the set menu to order sides — maple whipped sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus. Both were excellent choices!

Of the two desserts on the Restaurant Week menu — key lime pie and three-layer chocolate cake — the pie is the standout.

There’s still one more day before this week’s dining deals are done, and Firehouse is worth a visit if steak is what you crave.

The Chicago Firehouse
1401 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 786-1401 | Make Reservations
Get directions
Firehouse’s full Restaurant Week menu

Oct 062008
 
The baby squid and pasta combined to make a divine dish.

The baby squid and pasta combined to make a divine dish.

We had the opportunity to see Chef Jose Garces at Gourmet Chicago last week. We were so delighted by his cooking demonstration that we decided to drop by his restaurant for a sample of what he cooked up. The octopus was mighty tasty, but how did the other dishes stack up?

Download Chicago Bites (12.8 M)

Show Notes:
00:00 – 02:18 Dying to try the octopus
02:19 – 04:04 Other appetizers
04:05 – 05:03 Best mojitos evaaaaah
05:04 – 06:15 Getting to dinner and cheese
06:16 – 08:24 Baby squid and other horizontal delights
08:25 – 09:50 Dessert
09:51 – 12:00 The insides
12:01 – 13:56 Wrap-up and sign-off

Two preparations of baby octopus, one by Chef Jose Garces and the other by his restaurant on the right.

Two preparations of baby octopus, one by Chef Jose Garces and the other by his restaurant on the right.

Mercat a la planxa
638 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
Get directions

Bridget’s Ratings Tammy’s Ratings
Food Quality 4 4
Value 4 3
Service 3 3
Ambiance 4 3
Overall 8 7

Average price per person: $70

Online buzz about Mercat a la planxa:
Refined Palate
Sky full of Bacon
The Stew

Chef Jose Garces preparing octopus at Chicago Gourmet

Chef Jose Garces preparing octopus at Chicago Gourmet