In one word – Sociable
Location – 5260 N. Clark (Clark and Berwyn)
Food – I had a bunch of friends getting together, so I thought that Lady Gregory’s would be the ideal venue to catch up over food and drinks. We started with Goat Cheese, Basil, Tomato Flat Bread (ah-maze) and then the sweet potato fries, which frankly weren’t that awesome (go to Hopleaf for their curry fries instead). I wasn’t super hungry after that, so I had Cavolo Nero soup, which had white beans and kale. Loved loved loved it. And, it was a very generous portion. My eating partners had the portobello mushroom sandwich (got good reviews), the Gastro Burger (which is like eating 3 burgers at once) and the macaroni & cheese (which looked like a heart attack on a plate…in a good way).
Drink – This place prides itself on its beer and whiskey selection. The whiskey list alone is an entire book.
Service – Our server was named Laura, and she was fantastic. The group I was with was energetic and sociable, and she indulged us in conversation and quality recommendation.
Scene – Like Branch 27, Lady Gregory’s is modeled after a library. The library vibe wasn’t too strong where we were sitting, but it did feel like a social English pub (which I liked). The place was full despite it being a Wednesday night during the holidays. And, I appreciated that they allowed us to sit despite not all of our party being present when our table was ready.
Occasion – This is a fun place to catch up with friends, no matter the size of your group.
Price – I spent $37 for my soup, my share of appetizers, 2 beers and a generous tip (because Laura was really exceptional).
If you like, try – Wilde (same owner), Duke of Perth
Location – 5420 N Clark S (between Balmoral Ave & Catalpa Ave)
In One Word – Unexpected
Food – In Fine Spirits Lounge is an extension of the In Fine Spirits wine store that’s right next door. Rather than the “In Fine Spirits Wine Bar,” “Lounge” seems appropriate because the menu boasts just as many unexpected, creative cocktails and craft beers as it does delicious wines.
IFSL is mainly a place for drinks, but they do have a small plates menu that offers foodie nibbles. While I mingled at the birthday party hosted in IFSL’s private room I sampled the House Flatbread ($11) which was served with slices of salty, pungent blue cheese and spicy apple preserves, and complemented my sweeter cocktail very nicely.
Drink – I was surprised by IFSL’s expansive cocktail list that included both classics and imaginative originals. I tried the Poire Rose ($9) which was a crisp rose champagne with dry vermouth and Poire Williams liquor. It was served in a very tall champagne glass and garnished with a fat lemon curl. I thought the tartness of the grapefruit juice balanced the honey-ed pear taste of the Poir Williams nicely, but my Trusty Sidekick thought it was far too sweet for him. During the party he tried the Cloister ($8), which was gin with grapefruit juice, orange bitters, and chartreuse. It was a great cocktail because it was strong but had subtle flavors and ended with a delicious spiciness. After the Cloister he moved on to a juicy South African Pinotage ($6.50).
Service – The service was great for a private party. The bartender was quick and friendly; she took our order and invited us to sit down while she made our drinks, then brought them to our table. I appreciated the fact that we got to spend more time chatting with friends rather than wait around the crowded bar.
Scene – The décor is vaguely Pier 1; simple, contemporary, and a little commercial. Because IFSL’s interior doesn’t have the strong personality that lounges like Violet Hour have, it makes for a much more casual night as far as “happening lounge experiences” go. If you’re on a date, this would be a great after dinner destination.
Dress –We’re in Andersonville, not Wicker Park; with IFSL’s more laid-back feel there’s no need to gussy up. Go with jeans and a t-shirt. You could throw on a statement necklace to show that you made an effort, or not; this is not a stuck up crowd.
Cost – $30 bought us three large drinks with tip, and because it was a party the nibbles were free. Not bad!
If you like, try… Joie de Vine, Bin 36
written by hungry yuppie
My previous awesome experience at Anteprima was completely tainted last night. We had to wait 30 minutes to be seated despite having a reservation. Our server was just plain rude and completely distracted from ensuring we had a pleasant dining experience. And, I found the tagliatelle to be a bit too salty and dry for my liking. My eating partners were very disappointed by the short ribs. The only thing that redeemed the trip was that they are still offering their $30 Restaurant Week menu to patrons.
Location – 5316 N. Clark (Clark and Summervale)
In one word – Compensating
Food – I felt like I had a true gastronomic experience at Anteprima! We started with a plate of appetizers brought out by the owner (more on why later): Roasted peppers with breadcrumbs (fab!), marinated olives, caponata, cannellini beans, faro, and sweet and sour onions. Then we sampled the most gourmet bread on a stick I’ve ever had–prosciutto and a salted breadstick. That was all to start! Some of my eating partners chose an additional starter to share. They said that the polenta, mussels and radicchio were all stunning. The cheese with the radicchio was especially notable. For my main, I chose a half order of ricotta and chard ravioli. I have to say that the brown butter and sage combination on top of the pasta made me euphoric. And the half portion was just right. One of my eating partners tried the braised beef. It was so tender that it flaked off like pulled pork! How my eating partners had space for dessert is beyond me. They had the apple fennel bread pudding and could only say good things.
Drink – We were reunioning, so it was a sort of celebration for my group. We chose a couple great bottles in the moderate price range and everyone was happy.
Service – So here’s the story. Our reservations were at 8:30. By 9:15, we were still waiting at the bar to be seated. One of my eating partners put up a huff. Here’s what I appreciated–the owner of the restaurant responded accordingly. He gave us complimentary appetizers, which showed me that he appreciated our patronage. I understand that unexpected problems come up when running a restaurant. All I ask is that restaurants are apologetic when mistakes happen and Anteprima did exactly that. Kudos to them!
Scene – The scene was super sociable here. All the couples/groups came to talk over great food and wine. Being in Andersonville, the vibe was casual.
Dress – We were all wearing jeans and sweaters and fit in perfectly.
Cost – For all of that food and wine (appetizers were comped), we each paid $58 including tax and tip. I thought it was such a deal!
If you like, try…Spacca Napoli
Location – 5058 N. Clark (Clark and Winnemac)
Food – I had a great experience at TM. The meal started out with a little veggie salad with a fresh ginger salad. Then they brought outmiso soup (complimentary). I just have to say that this was one of the best miso soups I have ever had (fresh seaweed, substantial broth). Then we ordered age dashi (fried tofu in a sesame sauce) – Delish! For our maki, we ordered the Windy City maki (not my favorite), Kaiware maki (the total dark horse of the night) and avocado maki. I really liked the Kaiware maki, the kaiware daikon added a nice crunchy touch to the roll. I felt special when the server brought out watermelon slices for us to eat at the end of the meal. Fresh and a great finale to a good meal.
Drinks – They have your Sapporo and Kirin beers. What else do you need with sushi?
Service – We were well attended and they offer those nice extra touches (the veggie salad, miso soup, watermelon). They get thumbs up on service from me.
Occasion – The setting here is very casual. Couples, friends, a larger group and a family all were sitting around us. Perhaps if you’re looking for an inexpensive, good quality dinner inAndersonville at a place other than the Hopleaf, come here.
Dress – It’s so casual, anything and everything would work. There were tshirts and suit jackets, dresses and jeans.
Cost – With tip, I paid about $16. Love that I could get full sharing an appetizer, 3 makis and one large beer.
If you like, try…Wakamono