Chicago Restaurant Week(s) Kicked off by First Bites Bash

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Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 10:20pm

Yes, Chicago Restaurant Week has begun.  Well, Chicago Restaurant Weeks, since the “event” last for two weeks, from January 24 through February 6, 2014.  For those unaware, Chicago Restaurant Week is comprised of many opportunities to have prix fixe lunch for $22 and/or dinner for $33 and/or $44 at over 300 Chicagoland restaurants.

Since even the toughest of us need a good reason to leave the house in these anti-tropical conditions, these restaurants are offering three- and four-course meals for very reasonable prices.  Two weeks to get to those places that are usually out of budget range, or just out of geographic range.  A mere $22 is a pretty good excuse for a gourmet lunch.  And is another $11 or $22 really that much more?

No it is not.  A four-course meal at a Michelin starred restaurant for $44 is an opportunity that only comes around once a year, during Chicago Restaurant Week(s).  Two weeks doesn’t last long and the most popular restaurants’ reservations are booked, so get on it, diners of Chicago (link for reservations here, darlings).

How do I know Chicago Restaurant Week is worth it?  I was invited to attend First Bites Bash, the Chicago Restaurant Week launch party hosted by Paul Kahan.  Yes, Paul Kahan, James Beard Award winning chef of so many revered Chicago restaurants including Blackbird, which is participating in Chicago Restaurant Week for lunch.  Also, he is the latest inductee into the Chicago Chefs Award Hall of Fame.

First Bites Bash included tasting portions of dishes from a large sampling of Chicago Restaurant Week participants.  “Tasting portions” was interpreted differently by each of the restaurants.  You would think this would lead to a complaint about chintzy portions; quite the opposite.  Because some of the restaurants served too much delicious food, I was unable to sample more of the delicious food.

Fifty restaurants, a wine distributor, a (formerly) local beer company, a couple liquor firms, and, for propriety’s sake, some bottled water folks were present to give attendees an idea of what Chicago Restaurant Week has to offer.  While I tasted a lot, I didn’t even get to half of the 50 restaurants before I had so much food that I considered doing something that people with eating disorders do (other than eat too much, that is).

Some highlights: Elk and guajillo chili from the Signature Room at the 9th®, oatmeal cookie sandwiches from TABLE fifty-two, chia pudding from Beatrix, and crispy Thai shrimp from Standard Market Grill.  

Two weeks to try one of these or any of the other over 300 participating restaurants.  Get on it.  Chicago Restaurant Week lasts through February 6

ShazamChi's picture
Suzanne White Montiel
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