Tuna tartare

Spicy crab mini tacos

Banging sweet Thai chili chicken

Spicy salmon, kiss of fire, black diamond

*** (3 stars)

Jellyfish is divided into two distinct spaces. The inside is a long bar with facing booths. The bar is backlit with a spectacular wall of sliced geodes, and the blue lightning is very cool. Then there’s a sort of outside space that is like a solarium, with a glass ceiling that lets in the sun. It’s like sidewalk dining, but indoors.

The highlights here are the small plates, both cold and hot.

Our favorite was the tuna tartare, which was served on very tasty guacamole, accompanied by wonton chips.

The mini crab tacos were also very good.

We also tried the “bangin'” chicken with a sweet Thai chili sauce, which was fine but not remarkable.

Much of the menu consists of sushi, of course. Prices seem very high, with each individual piece of fish costing about $5. There was nothing we observed about the quality of the fish that seemed to justify the premium.

We opted for three rolls: spicy tuna, kiss of fire, and black diamond. All were fine, but none were that magic combination of flavors that would qualify them as “signature” rolls, as listed.

Service was good, as it should have been, since we were alone during Sunday at lunch. I suppose this is due to the second floor location, which makes it a bit non-obvious to the casual traffic on the busy street below.

1009 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-3111





Tea of lightly smoked fruits and vegetables (part of the tasting menu)

Beef tartare (part of the tasting menu)

Duck liver tart with buckwheat and salted ramps (part of the tasting menu)

Leeks vinaigrette with toasted oats and blue mound cheddar (part of the tasting menu)

Orange and egg white foam (one of the non-alcoholic pairings)

Roasted skrei cod with sunchokes and black trumpet mushrooms (part of the tasting menu)

Grilled leg of lamb (part of the tasting menu)

Frozen fennel chew with mint  (part of the tasting menu)

Citrus sundae with toasted milk, barley malt caramel and satsuma (part of the tasting menu)

Fireplace on the patio

**** (4 stars)

This sleek yet laid-back new restaurant offers a creative eight-course tasting menu at a very reasonable price. We particularly liked the cod with trumpet mushrooms, and the citrus ice cream. Portion sizes are modest, so you won’t leave feeling stuffed. I suggest starting with an order of the delicious sourdough bread to supplement the tasting menu.

A wine pairing is reasonably priced, but only the Burgundy impressed. However the non-alcoholic pairing knocked it out of the park. Each offering was delicious and matched the food perfectly. Highlights were a modern take on an Orange Julius, and a chilled sparkling espresso. In fact, this is the best non-alcoholic pairing we’ve ever encountered, including the original at Charlie Trotter’s.

Sadly, the reason this is a four-star review is that the noise level is simply too loud for conversation. There’s no attempt at acoustic treatment whatsoever, and all the glass and wood guarantee maximum racket. Be sure to hang onto your mini-menu, as you won’t be able to hear the descriptions of the dishes as they are served.

1350 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-1314

Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub




**** (4 stars)

It doesn’t look like much on the outside. Well, actually it doesn’t look like much on the inside, either, although it does have the usual pub appointments. And a free popcorn machine!

It’s also not particularly Irish, although there are a few dishes and brews that nod in that direction.

That all said, we really liked all the food we had. We started with guacamole (which must be Irish, since it’s green). It was obviously freshly made, chunky, and served with a mound of super fresh tortilla chips.

The chef’s salad with balsamic dressing was good, and the Chicago dogs were authentic right down to the green sport peppers and green relish (both obviously Irish).

Perhaps the best item was the chili, which was thick and rich and surprisingly spicy.

On nice days there is a large outside seating area under the trees along the river, which is really lovely.

Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub
400 N McClurg Ct
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 467-1992

La Sardine



Authentic bread


French onion soup

Salad Lyonnaise


***** (5 stars)

For a couple years I’ve been looking for a truly authentic and wonderful French brasserie in Chicago. Unfortunately, I was looking in River North, where there are quite a few choices, some good, but none wonderful. Then I stumbled upon this place. How I’d overlooked it I don’t know, since it is just off of Randolph’s restaurant row, but it is a bit of an obscure side street.

Anyway, it’s the real deal, with all the classic French comfort foods, impeccably prepared.

It’s really the small details that make the difference: the warm, crusty French bread and sweet butter served before you even order; the exactly correct Dijon mustard that accompanies the country-style house-made terrine of pork pate; the croutons on your Salad Lyonnaise that have obviously just been toasted; the perfect crust of gruyere on the French onion soup; and of course the right ambiance and soundtrack to accompany a classic French bistro meal.

In addition to the delights listed above, we also tried the mussels, a new recipe for the Spring, and they were easily the best I’ve ever had, done in a cream sauce loaded with herbs and just a hint of spice from a confetti of tiny chorizo bits.

The Burgundy by the glass was top notch, and they have my favorite Republic of Tea bottled teas.

Service was not French, but definitely charming and helpful, and everyone seemed glad for our business. This will definitely become a regular hangout for us. It’s by far the best French dining experience I’ve had in Chicago.

La Sardine
111 N Carpenter St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 421-2800

Prime & Provisions


Dining room

Tuna tartare

Chicken for the table


Tomahawk lamb


**** (4 stars)

During the past two years we’ve tried nearly all the high-end steakhouses in Chicago (except for some of the chains, which I presume are more or less the same everywhere). Prime & Provisions is definitely the best we’ve encountered.

The dining room is well-appointed, with a bit of a steampunk feel to it. Lighting is well-designed.

Our server was friendly, helpful and professional, and the support staff was excellent.

The focus here is on prime meat, of course, and it didn’t disappoint, with one of the best New York steaks we’ve tasted anywhere. But there are many other highlights on the menu, as our server pointed out, and we must agree.

We started with the tuna tartare, which had a delightful mustard tang to it, and was served with fresh-made criss-cross potato chips.

We also had the fried chicken “for the table” which was the only disappointment of the meal. My chicken was quite dry (although others’ were moister) but the huge amount of very crispy crust simply overwhelmed the meager chicken within. The bourbon maple syrup was good, though.

We shared a crab Caesar salad amongst the three of us, and there was more than enough. The crab and kale added little, but the Caesar itself was very good.

In addition to the fantastic prime steak, we had the salmon, which was coated with mustard and spices and served on quinoa. It was moist and perfectly cooked, and the quinoa had a nice flavor.

But the winning entree was the tomahawk lambchops. Two large double chops were perfectly cooked, seasoned and sauced, and were frankly the best lamb I’ve had… anywhere.

But wait, there’s more. It was the smores dessert that knocked it out of the park. This is one of the greatest desserts I’ve had, ever, including in three-star Michelin restaurants. A grapefruit-sized sphere of dark chocolate is presented, and as hot chocolate sauced is poured on it, it caves in, releasing a cloud of campfire smoke. Inside is vanilla ice cream, brownie, and below are graham cracker crumbles. The flavor of the smoke, which lingers on the chocolate surfaces, was absolutely incredible. A double decaf espresso was the perfect match.

So with all this amazing food, why four stars rather than five? The noise level was absolutely deafening, rendering communication amongst the three of us nearly impossible. Admittedly we had a party of screamers nearby, who no doubt amped up the level of the whole room, but this would never be a room with reasonable noise levels when full–the curved panels that join walls and ceiling guarantee that sound is reflected right back into the room. It’s a shame, because this is a restaurant I would visit regularly if not for that critical flaw.

Prime & Provisions
222 N La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 726-7777

Davanti Enoteca


Chicken liver

Tuna sandwich and mushroom soup

Cauliflower steak

***** (5 stars)

I’ve walked past this place for two years, associating it with hotel coffee shops and the donut shop that shares its entrance. I just assumed it wasn’t noteworthy. Wrong!

We had a great lunch here. First, the decor is among the nicest of Italian restaurants in Chicago, with rich brick and wood finishes and pleasant lighting.

The lunch menu offers a variety of starters and a few pizzas and sandwiches. But the deal is the half sandwich special which includes a salad or the soup of the day, and is currently a mere $10.

My wife selected the tuna sandwich and cream of mushroom soup. Both were flat-out amazing. It was one of the best tuna sandwiches I’ve ever tasted! It’s unusual, because the tuna is topped with giardiniera, a pickled mixture of peppers, carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables. And it’s served in what looks like pita bread, but is a light consistency like focaccia. The soup was great too, but very rich.

Speaking of rich, I asked for the Pate Vasi off the dinner menu, which they graciously made for us. It’s a jar filled with a delightfully creamy chicken liver pate, served with perfectly grilled slices of bread. The two of us shared half of this, and took the rest home because it was too good to get away.

As my entree I had the cauliflower steak appetizer, a large slab of cauliflower nicely browned, served atop an olive tapenade and covered in a slightly sweet white sauce. I didn’t care for the crispy garbanzo beans on top, but the rest was good, the primary flavor being the tapenade.

Service was attentive and friendly. As the name enoteca implies, the wine list is extensive, both by bottle and glass.

Overall this was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a while, and I won’t walk past this place the next time I’m in the mood for Italian food!

Davanti Enoteca
30 E Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 605-5900



Table greens

Amuse bouche



Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup

Rabbit rillette

Greens for rabbit three ways

rabbit three ways


Blood orange

Rooibos custard

7 year aged cheese smoked

Foie gras ice cream


***** (5 stars)

What a wonderful addition to Chicago’s fine dining offerings. This restaurant, created by two chefs who met at Les Nomades, is closer to being a mini Alinea, with its beautiful, welcoming modern decor and just as beautifully plated 11+ course tasting menu.

In fact the only thing missing from a mini-Alinea experience is the precision team of synchronized waiters. Here, the service is more personal and less affected. Our server, Jeremy, did a wonderful job of playing host and making sure our meal was delightful.

Highlights of our meal included the wild mushroom consume, rabbit three ways, venison two ways, and 7-year aged cheddar served in a smoke-filled dome. We’re not really dessert eaters, but the four dessert courses were among the best we’ve had.

At $110 for the complete meal the price is very reasonable. And a five flight wine pairing was also worth every cent at $95. In fact, this may be the best wine pairing I’ve ever had, with a generous pour of five really outstanding wines that perfectly matched the food. The Rene Geoffroy Champagne, Nuits St. Georges 1er cru, and 2010 Chave Hermitage were stellar.

This was a very impressive meal for a new restaurant. It will be exciting to see how this menu evolves with the seasons.

933 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 697-4961

Weber Grill Restaurant



Wisconsin burger

Half pizza and salad

*** (3 stars)

The concept here is exactly what you might guess, with the majority of items cooked on actual weber grills in the kitchen. Most are charcoal driven, although a couple are gas.

The main room is long and narrow, with booths along one side and an open kitchen along the other. Despite this, it’s not noisy, and had a nice woody/clubby feel to it.

Our server was bubbly and informative, and made the dining experience a pleasant one.

We started with Caesar salads, which were excellent. Since it was lunch time I had the Wisconsin Burger, essentially a bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings, served on a pretzel bun. The patty had a nice char to it, as you would expect, and was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Unfortunately, despite this, the meat seemed somewhat dry and flavorless. I was also not a fan of the relatively flavorless bun, and discarded it before it could self-destruct.

My companion had the half pizza and salad combo. The pizza is a bit odd, with a very thick crust that has been grilled. On top of that were slices of whole tomatoes and melted mozzarella cheese, and some basil leaves. Although it wasn’t what she was expecting, she liked it except for the crust.

Overall I’d say Weber Grill is a possibility for lunch, but I would select different entrees next time.

Weber Grill Restaurant
539 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 467-9696

AMC Dine-in Theatres Block 37

Sesame salmon bowl

**** (4 stars)

I love the large reclining seats and spacious theatre aisles at the DIne-In theatres. I’ve been to the one in Orlando many times. This on is a bit different design, with individual swinging tray tables at each seat, which I like even better.

The menu here is definitely themed, with the theme being “unhealthful.” There are almost no food items on the menu with calorie counts that can be expressed in three digits. In fact, one DRINK has over 1600 calories!

That said, on my last visit I had a sesame salmon bowl, which contained stir fried vegetables and a teriyaki-like sauce. It was superb. I had them substitute quinoa for the rice, which made it even better. I suspect it even had a reasonable calorie count, and I would definitely get it again.

The service is always friendly and efficient, and is not intrusive during the movie.

AMC Dine-in Theatres Block 37
108 N State Street
Ste 434
Chicago, IL 60602

Dao Thai



**** (4 stars)

This is a good choice for traditional Thai cuisine, better than the River North options.

The interior is open, and very nicely decorated, with conventional tables and also ones where you can pretend you’re sitting on the floor (although you’re not).

We tried the Vietnamese spring rolls, gyoza, Massaman curry, Pad Thai, and a beef and mushroom dish. All were good.

Service was friendly and attentive.

Dao Thai
230 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-0000