Petrossian Bar

Caviar sampler


**** (4 stars)

This is a delightful piano bar just off the Bellagio lobby, and next to the casino. Despite its location, it is neither noisy nor smoky.

Many creative cocktails are one offer. One of the most interesting items is the caviar sampler, which includes a taste of three grades of caviar, and a glass of Champagne. I suggest ordering it with the creme fraiche on the side, though, as the way it’s served it’s almost impossible to keep it from getting mixed into the caviar, which makes them all taste the same.

Petrossian Bar
3600 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 693-7111

The Barn Steakhouse





Lamb chops (Saturday special)

**** (4 stars)

This charming restaurant is indeed in an old, two-story brick barn that was a Bordens Milk plant in the distant past. The space has been nicely remodeled while saving its charm.

The Barn styles itself as a Chicago steakhouse, but there is a lot more on the menus, and none of us actually had steak. We really enjoyed the very generous ceviche appetizer. Another favorite is their famous caviar sandwich, which is also a generous serving, and the caviar was quite good for the price.

As an entree I had the lamb chops, which were excellent. Four large chops were perfectly cooked, and served in a wonderfully flavorful sauce that conatined a hint of licorice. The is a Saturday special, so if lamb is your thing, that’s the day to go.

There’s a fairly extensive wine list.

Service was friendly and professional.

Because of the brick walls, the space can get quite loud when busy, so it’s best to go early. The upstairs seating in the loft is a little bit quieter.

The Barn Steakhouse
1016 Church St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 868-8041



Steak frites

Provencal plate

***** (5 stars)

This is a delightful spot to sit outside downtown, with no noise and a great view. There are heaters and a fireplace to keep warm in winter, and clear glass windbreaks all around.

The menu offers a nice combination of small plates and main dishes. We really liked both the tuna tartare and mussel starters, and my Provencal vegetable plate was excellent.

There is a medium sized list of wines, with about a fourth available by the glass. There is also an extensive spirits list.

Service is friendly and efficient, and pricing is reasonable.

448 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 802-1770

Pyrmont Bridge Hotel

Caesar salad


*** (3 stars)

This is a classic pub with good food located conveniently to the Lyric Theatre. If you don’t want to get into the mad crush in the food court before the show, eat hear and then walk two blocks to the theatre.

The salads we had were fresh, with tasty ingredients and excellent dressing. Service was friendly and efficient.

Pyrmont Bridge Hotel
96 Union St
Pyrmont, New South Wales 2009
+61 2 9660 6996

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Steak



***** (5 stars)

When I want a great steak in Orlando, I go to Eddie V’s. In Chicago’s River North I’ve tried nearly every steakhouse, and yet, when I want a great steak in Chicago… I go to Eddie V’s.

Even though it’s a chain owned by Darden, Eddie V’s is a cut above almost every big name steakhouse in town. And even though it specializes in seafood, it’s really the steaks that are the standouts. In fact, it’s ironic that Darden’s steakhouse chain, Capital Grille, serves choice meat, but Eddie V’s serves prime.

The service is also a cut above, with gracious, personal and professional waiters delivering a supper club type experience.

And the environment can’t be beat, with a classy dining room, vibrant bar, and live jazz most nights. The Orlando location is high-ceilinged and a bit noisy, but the Chicago restaurant is perfect, with more intimate dining spaces and better sound levels.

The seafood is okay, but not really what I’m looking for. The yellowtail sashimi appetizer is excellent, and the shellfish tower is impressive. But much of the other fish is steamed or cooked in ways that aren’t my favorite. So I stick with the excellent apps, salads and steaks.

In all, a great place for a great experience.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Steak
521 N Rush St
Ste R01
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-1114

Signature Lounge

View from the ladies room

Lime, bramble, Pimm’s cup

*** (3 stars)

This is a place you go to for the view, of course. It’s a bit tired, and very crowded and noisy, but you can get a table, have a drink, and hope for a better table. Don’t go when it’s the least bit hazy, as visibility is worse than it seems at street level.

It’s certainly a better deal than the observation deck, since it’s free. On the other hand, you won’t get a 360 degree view. Since the space is divided into rooms you have to pick the direction you want to see. On the other, other hand you can get a drink while you enjoy the view. On the other, other, other hand it’s going to cost you about $16 a drink. So go on a clear day.

Signature Lounge
875 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-9596

Maple & Ash

**** (4 stars)

You enter the upstairs dining room of Maple & Ash quite dramatically, from an elevator at the rear of the building that opens out into a dramatic two-story space that is quite dazzling. Although it is a steakhouse in a city of steakhouses, the experience here is quite different. Servers are much more engaged with their guests, and there are many freebies and extras involved in each meal.

For example, before you’ve even started, there are chips and dip, watermelon radishes with salt, parmesan crisps, and even an “amuse booze” cocktail of vermouth and grapefruit. Crusty bread and butter come next. We were starting to worry we’d be full before the first course arrived.

An extensive wine list has a range of offerings at moderate prices but includes a page of under $50 bargains.

We opted for the “I don’t give a f*@k” tasting menu because it let us sample much of the menu. It’s a bargain at $145. These were the courses:

Seafood platter, not chilled, but rather roasted, featuring lobster, shrimp, scallops, and clams. The was served in a pool of butter which was later used for a tableside preparation of pasta.

Beet and watercress salad.

Rosemary fries with Hollandaise and aioli.

Meatballs with garlic cheese toast.

Bone in ribeye steak served with ricotta agnolotti, roasted squash, and mashed potatoes.

Ice cream sundae tower with three kinds of ice cream and 12 toppings to choose from.

We enjoyed the experience, and particularly our server. I can’t say there were really any home runs, and the steak was definitely not the highlight, as it wasn’t particularly tender. Overall it was a very rich menu, with little respite from heavily buttered dishes. The best items were the dip, the mashed potatoes, and the sundae.

Despite the large size of the room, noise levels were surprisingly pleasant (until a large drunk party was seated next to us) and the background music track is particularly chill.

If you are looking for a steakhouse-type experience that is a little out of the ordinary, it’s worth checking out.

Maple & Ash
8 W Maple
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 944-8888

The Berkshire Room


**** (4 stars)

This is a chill bar for craft cocktails, but they could up the food quality. The main draw is the “dealer’s  choice” selection of cocktails where you pick the spirit, the style and the glass and leave the rest to the mixologists. They are obviously really into it (just look at the extensive list of spirits), and it’s likely you’ll get something you really like.

I instead opted for a couple of the cocktail menu selections. The Continuous Negroni was one of the better Negronis I’ve had, intensely bitter, and quite complex.

The highly touted Weston was an interesting mix of bourbon, coffee essence and tobacco. I found it boring, but maybe it was because I had just had the negroni.

I tried all three of the dips on the menu, which were part of the “pick three” bar snack menu, and cost a very reasonable $8. The smoked whitefish was good, the onion was just okay, and the bean was not that great.

I also had the Reuben sandwich, which was nicely prepared, but contained huge hunks of very fatty “bacon” in quarter inch thick slabs. It wasn’t very good. The accompanying slaw was very bland, but the potato chips were excellent, super thin and very crispy.

In all, this is a great place for craft cocktails, but I’d skip the food entirely.

The Berkshire Room
15 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 894-0945

Untitled Supper Club

**** (4 stars)

Untitled isn’t exactly a supper club or a speakeasy, but it does have some elements of those. You enter down a broad staircase into a foyer off of which large rooms extend in all directions. One room is a large lounge that serves over 500 whiskeys, another has a stage for live performances (there was a very good Jazz quintet playing the night we visited) and a third room is strictly for dining, and features private alcoves for six all around the edges. This last room was most to our taste, as the live band was audible but conversation was still possible. Decor throughout is romantic and 1920s inspired.

The menu contains a nice variety of shareable plates, and a selection of full-size entrees. We loved the Mussels, which were served in a green curry broth that tasted like Tom Yum Goong. There were a LOT of mussels in the bowl for a very reasonable $16.

We also vaporized two other small plates, deviled eggs, and bacon fat fries. Yes, you read that right–write, BACON FAT FRIES! They were as good as you would imagine.

Well after all that, we could only share a salad as our main dish, and our server’s recommendation of the asparagus salad was a great one. Raw, pickled and grilled asparagus were combined with mixed greens and an excellent green goddess dressing.

An interesting cocktail list includes smokey, bitter and other exotic flavors. A nice variety of wines by the glass is on offer, along with a limited bottle list that seemed a bit pricey.

Service was amazing (as was our server’s dress). Her recommendations were spot on. Note that many of the hostesses and servers were scantily clad, and apparently things get bawdy as the evening progresses.

It’s a bit hard to describe the concept here, because they are trying to be several things at once, and are doing so pretty successfully. I can see it as a place for business over whiskey, for cocktails, for a romantic dinner, or a late night show. And by moving from room to room, you could actually do several on the same visit.

Untitled Supper Club
111 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 880-1511

Flights 101 Club Lounge

**** (4 stars)

This lobby lounge offers a surprisingly intimate atmosphere in the evening, with low lighting levels that make it easy to watch the flight traffic in and out of SFO. In fact, the lobby area is a much better choice for dinner than the adjacent restaurant, which is lit up like a coffee shop. And the lounge offers all the same food, plus bar food.

The chicken quesadilla was really more like a flauta, and it was fine. But the fish tacos were truly delicious: three larger servings of nicely seasoned fish topped with slaw and a piquant sauce.

During the course of our meal we were tag-teamed by six different servers, yet there was perfect continuity, and they were all very friendly and helpful. If traveling through SFO I would definitely eat here again.

Flights 101 Club Lounge
1800 Old Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 692-9100