A Sucker for Restaurant Week

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Mexique on Urbanspoon                 Perennial Virant on Urbanspoon

February 17-26 was restaurant week in Chicago – and I am totally a sucker for restaurant week and when I say sucker, I mean it!

In Denver, menus for restaurant week include two 3-4 course entrees for $52.80 (those not from Denver, there are 5,280 feet in a mile and Denver is after all the mile high city.) In Chicago, it’s a little more pricey, $66 for three courses, a couple.

I am definitely all about getting a great value and of course trying new food, so I always seem to jump on the chance to go to restaurant week. However, (like many of you) I end up spending way more than great value that lured me in. I mean whynot, get a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and another feature dish to share.

I ate at Capital Grill, Perennial Virant and Mexique

Restaurant number 1 – Capital Grill, Friday night, 9:30pm

Now as you may or may not imagine Capital Grill would not typically be on my list of must try foodie places. For one – it’s a chain and secondly its menu is pretty typical for most steakhouses. That being said, we have a dear friend that works here and mentioned to us that Capital Grill is a great place to go during restaurant week, as it’s a really great deal. She was right! For $33 I got house-made New England Clam Chowder, creamed spinach, an 8 oz, filet mignon (medium rare) and a slice of flourless chocolate cake – If I were to order those thing separately, I would looking at upwards of $60+. Of course, we had good wine and probably some of the most amazing lobster mac and cheese I have ever had and I don’t say that lightly (Brittany, would be jealous). While I do love a good steak and wine, the most pleasant surprise came from the spinach – it was full of spices, or at least some nutmeg, which was delightful.

Overall, really excellent service and a good meal. I know Capital Grill wouldn’t be branching out to most, but for me it was a good change of pace. I could do without the paintings of the old local men.

Restaurant number 2 – Perennial Virant Sunday night 5pm

Some of you might remember Chef Virant, when he appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America (versus Chef Morimoto!). His restaurant in the old town has a simple elegance and is just the right size to still feel intimate but also have a buzz about it.

Brian and I started the evening with beer, a Sophie for me and an Ommegang  Abbey for him, despite leaving the mecca of craft brews in Denver, Chicago does have some good options.

Overall, it fits the bill for a place I would recommend. However, I was not super impressed with the white fish; the fish itself was nothing note worthy and the sauce, a tomato base with olives did not add a lot of value. The favorite – a tie between the gnocchi (I know I’m going through a phase) and Boston crème pie tart with a lemon curd… yum.

Restaurant number 3 –  Mexique Wednesday night 6:30pm

Our real estate agent raved about this place, but said that they don’t take reservations so it’s hard to get in. So even if we didn’t get a great deal (the three courses by them self would have been $36 a person) we did get a table without waiting a few hours or going at 10pm.

The restaurant is more of a neighborhood treasure than a whole in the wall, but either way you wouldn’t assume such a delicious and cute restaurant would be on Chicago Avenue in Noble Square, among its discount retailer neighbors.

Chef Carlos Gaytan has a French, Mexican flare. His French recipes and cooking techniques are inspired by the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860’s.

My restaurant week meal:

  • French Onion and Roasted Poblano Soup, Gruyere Cheese and homemade croutons. I was definitely a fan of the peppers with this traditional French dish.
  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Poblano Polenta Cake, Zucchini Sofrito,
    and Mole Teloloapan. I have never had such a rich cocoa mole before; it was the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
  • Chocolate enchiladas, or really Crepes Filled with Chocolate Ganache, Toasted Walnuts, Ancho Chile-Choco – these were seriously  good!
  • Dessert Guacamole –  Avocado Pastry Cream, Strawberry Compote, Crispy Tortilla.

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