Monday, March 5, 2012

Pro food places in Chicago

I have a couple of places in Chicago I love to go to. These are kind of random, but are nice to know about.

The first is an important place to me. Northwest Cutlery. I don't know any place else in the Chicago Metro area that will sharpen a knife like these guys. The grinder at the farmers market doesn't come close. First a well sharpened knife will stay sharper longer and with a steel will be usable a lot longer. Second, a really sharp knife will cut better. Part of why an onion causes tears is that you are crushing the onion instead of cutting it. Listen to the sound your knife makes when it cuts an onion. Northwest Cutlery is at 810 W Lake Street, Chicago. They also sell knives and other kitchen equipment. But be careful. A very sharp knife will cut you before you can feel it. They have a supply of band-aids there. I think knives are $3.50 to sharpen and they will take mail delivery. Their web is at here.

Another neat place is Issacson & Stein Fish Company (800 W Fulton Market) near Northwest Cutlery. If you are looking for the very freshest fish or need a special kind (say a whole Roughy for a special dinner), these are the pros. It is open to the public. It isn't like going to Whole Foods, but if you want the freshest, or want it cut a certain way, this is my go to place. Their web is here.

I was going to mention Edward Don Outlet, but I understand it closed a few years ago. Too bad, it was a great place to look at stuff for restaurants and kitchens. Any more I use Sur la Tabla as an expensive alternative. I wish a place for chefs were around. I guess NW Cutlery has a lot of stuff, but where can you find stuff that makes your meal into an adventure.

If you have an idea of what you think is a great dive into foodie stuff, let me know.

Vivo - Chicago

We were going to a play downtown Chicago on a Friday Night and were looking for somewhere interesting, good and pretty quick. Seems easy in Chicago. Except during Restaurant Week.

Restaurant Week is a contrived bit of city wide advertising to get people to go out on a (probably) cold and blustery week and sample some of Chicago best and better restaurants. It is wildly popular so our first choice was out, and our second and third choices. So my wife asked a friend to recommend something a little farther out of the Loop and he recommended Vivo at 838 West Randolph Street, Chicago. Randolph street used to be the market area and there are still some wholesale places in the area. But slowly they are being pushed out.

Restaurants who are participating in the week usually have a Prix Fixe menu that is usually a little less than the menu, (but actually more than we might pay ordinarily). I don't mind anything that keeps chefs and servers employed.

Vivo is a great Italian restaurant. Kind of a neat little room with one wall slowing being built of wine bottles and lots of open brick. The menu was very good high end Italian. The prix fixe menu was $33 for a three course meal. My wife selected a fish dish as well as a salad and dessert. I only got an entree (again fish for me too). The food was excellent as was the service. The room had a nice warmth to it and with good lighting (except to read the menu) and had a nice romantic feel to it.

So here is the big question, would I go again? Yes, it is a nice after work but a little more dressy kind of place. It would be a great place to take a date. And the other question, would I recommend it to others? Yes, it is a little more foodie than say Cafe Buonaro's in Naperville. The food is a higher caliber, but of course costs more. And my other question, would I take my in-laws? No, although a nice place, it would be lost on them to drive a hour and pay that much.

Valet parking $10 (and use it, there is no parking near and the neighborhood off a few blocks gets rougher). Dress appeared to be business casual on up.

In the end, the meal was about $140 for two with a prix fixe, an entree, three glasses of wine and a coffee. A little high, but it was a date night.

Their details can be found here.