The recession is taking a bite out of Chicago’s most prominent restaurants. According to data published by the market research firm, the NPD Group Inc., United States restaurant traffic plummeted 2.6 percent, during this year’s second quarter – a precipitous decline analogous to1981.
Over the past three months, both older and newer restaurants have been unable to weather the turbulent economy. On Chicago’s Gold Coast, three restaurants have closed their doors: Le Lan, Tsunami, and Morton’s Steakhouse. Fortunately, with more than 1500 establishments, Chicago restaurateurs are employing enterprising methods to attract cash conscious epicureans.
Chicago Best Restaurants compiled five of Chicago’s most favorite prix fixe menus:
In the west loop, Blackbird Restaurant is reminiscent of dining in SOHO or Tribeca. Chic business types experience midday satiation from a 3-course prix fixe lunch menu. Sublime starters consist of a charcuterie plate of lamb country pate and pickled lamb tongue with black radish; duck tartare with dried strawberries; or, the chilled cuttlefish noodles with avocado. Favored standouts include an ever so succulent grilled California sturgeon, roast rabbit loin or the abalone mushroom ‘schnitzel’. Given the quality, cost ($22) and the gallimaufry of dessert options, Blackbird’s prix fixe lunch menu is well worth the value.
Kitty corner to Bloomingdale’s (Chicago) on Walton Street, Pane Caldo presents a three-course prix fixe lunch for only $19. The concise, no substitute menu is comprised of a baby spinach salad with morsels of goat cheese, followed up with risotto Milanese, shrouded in parmesan reggiano, wading in saffron broth. In the end, an orange cream tart, raspberry sorbet multitasks as a dessert and a palate cleanser.
On Wednesday’s, cost conscious foodies find several options at Feast Restaurant + Bar. Whether it’s at the Wicker Park or Gold Coast location, the Chicago restaurant offers a prix fixe dinner menu of 2-courses and a glass of wine-for only $25. Feast’s roster of dandy delicious choices include the goat cheese ravioli, panko crusted chicken breast, black bean veggie burger, and of course other options.
Located in Streeterville, the location of Chicago Fleming’s Steakhouse provides several rib-sticking alternatives on their 3-course summer menu. For $35.95, guests start with a choice of spinach salad sprinkled with smoked bacon or vichyssoise served with sautéed corn and herb salsa on a fresh-baked rosemary crostini. Feature attractions, run the gamut: filet mignon, broiled sea scallops or a roasted sesame chicken. Dessert is a sweet, buttery concoction of caramelized banana crème brulée
Every night, Hugo’s Frog Bar of Chicago’s Gold Coast assures an affordable dinner tab with their 3-course prix fixe menu ($29.50). The meal commences with a choice of three soups or a house salad. Carnivores may opt for the petite filet smothered in béarnaise sauce, alongside broccoli. Between jumbo lump crab cakes, sautéed frog legs and a grilled Norwegian salmon, seafood lovers have their pick of the draw.
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