Pippin’s Tavern



Chicken quesadilla

Nachos supreme

Double dog

*** (3 stars)

If you’re expecting a traditional Irish pub, there are a couple of things you need to know. The first is that all the food here actually comes from the hot dog stand next door, so it leans toward hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and so on.

Second, it’s the sort of place that makes Irish coffee using instant coffee. So… yeah.

Anyway, other than that, the ambiance is nice, there is an extensive beer list, and lots of TVs.

Pippin’s Tavern
806 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-5435

Chicago Chop House


Cold seafood sampler for one

10 oz Wagyu NY Strip

Creamed spinach

**** (4 stars)

In a city seemingly overflowing with steakhouses, Chicago Chop House has a few unique things to offer.

First off is the ambiance. Located in a 120-year-old townhouse, it’s definitely cozier and more historical than the competition. And if you’re into Chicago history, the walls are covered with more than a thousand old photos, stock certificates and other ephemera, many with labels denoting their significance.

The third floor, called the “skybox,” is the quietest place to sit. It’s divided into small spaces that work well for intimate conversation. The ground floor bar is by far the liveliest space.

The menu offers the fairly unique option of ordering nearly identical steaks handled differently. There is a section of wet-aged meat (usually my preference), dry-aged, and also American Wagyu.

I tried the Wagyu New York Strip, and it was just okay. It was thinner than the other steaks, and wasn’t as tender or fatty as I would expect from Wagyu. Perhaps that was the result of it being cooked closer to medium well than the medium rare I ordered.

Far better was my wife’s dry-aged New York Strip, which was very tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked.

We started with a cold seafood assortment for one, which was actually enough for the two of use to have a bit of tuna and crab, and to split the oyster and shrimp according to our preference. Then we also shared a Ceasar salad, which was more than enough for two.

Sides are also large. We shared creamed spinach, which was a bit more to the cream side than I prefer, but tasty.

There’s a nice wine list, with a few older gems that are reasonably priced for Chicago.

Service was friendly and attentive, and we enjoyed our very relaxing and intimate meal.

Chicago Chop House
60 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654
(888) 592-8471




Shaved Foie Gras

A Winter Salad

Hawaiian Rolls

Guitara pasta



Lemongrass Semifreddo

Chocolate pudding and amaro daiquiri

***** (5 stars)

I was excited to try this latest offering by Boka, and it did not disappoint. The decor is beautiful, and it has a high energy vibe without being deafening. There is a smaller side room that overlooks the kitchen which is a bit quieter.

We tried the eight-course tasting menu, which is a collection of dishes offered on the regular menu, but in smaller sizes. It’s a perfect way to sample many of the menu highlights, and is very reasonably priced compared to other tasting menus around town.

We enjoyed all of the courses, but the stunner was the salad, of all things. It was an intensely complex combination of almost innumerable tastes and textures that came together with a different experience in almost every bite. Sadly, since it’s called the Winter Salad, it probably will be off menu when you read this.

The other highlight of the meal was the accompanying wine pairing. It was priced freakishly low compared to the extensive wines by the glass, and every single wine was a superb match with its course. I always worry about wine pairings, because so often, even in high-end restaurants they seem like really weird finds from a bored sommelier. Not so here! Although the selections are indeed mostly obscure, that was part of the fun discovery process, and every one was a superbly balanced old world gem. And the final selection, an amaro daiquiri, perfectly matched a complex dessert.

Each of the wine selections was presented by the sommelier, Jamel Freeman, who carefully explained the background of the wine and why it had been selected to accompany that course. His encyclopedic knowledge and engaging manner was a real treat.

The rest of the service is provided by a well-orchestrated tag team of servers, runners and bussers. It’s an impressive organization, but I couldn’t help wishing we’d had a bit more interaction with a dedicated waiter who would play host as well as Jamel did with the wine.

Bellemore is definitely another winner, and I look forward to future visits.

564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 667-0104

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery



Nachos (no beans)

Rib eye


**** (4 stars)

Based upon the name I was expecting sort of a dive bar, but it’s actually quite modern and nice inside. The menu offers a broad range of sports bar food, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good our selections were.

The nachos were actually better than any I’ve gotten in Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. They were spread out in a thin layer over a huge rectangular tray, so they stayed nice and crisp. We ordered them without the black beans, just our preference.

I had the ribeye, and it was a pretty darn good steak for much less than half what it would cost in any of River North’s steakhouses. About half of it needed to be trimmed away, but that’s what makes a ribeye so tender and juicy, and this one certainly was.

Service from our original server was a bit spotty, but the bartender and manager filled in nicely during her unexplained absences.

I was definitely favorably impressed, and will return.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
One West Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-9339