A Chicago Restaurant Week Review
Today marks the end of Chicago’s very first restaurant week. Was it a success? Well as you know, the answer can never be simple as a “yes” or a “no”.
To define success in this matter you need to take into account a number of perspectives: that from the restaurateurs and restaurant employees, that from the city, and that from the patrons. I’ll gladly speak from the terms of a patron, but all other measures, I simply cannot address.
My definition of success, as a patron, is as follows:
Was I able and encouraged to experience a restaurant I have never tried before?
Was I able to experience this or these restaurants at a subsidized cost?
The very idea behind restaurant week is trying something new. The restaurants gain exposure, and the patrons gain experience. Everyone wins, if you ask me.
But another outlying factor is of course, price. Did I get the most bang for my buck? Did $31.95 for a three course meal allow me to experience something ordinarily much more expensive? After researching all of the participating restaurants, $31.95 quickly became apparent as the floor price across each menu. In other words, some restaurants were offering $75 meals for only $31.95, and others simply picked choices that would naturally add up to the same value.
My opinion is that the point of restaurant week is to subsidize. For one week out of the year, let patrons that ordinarily cannot afford a higher priced meal afford a higher priced meal. $31.95 is still not cheap, but at least its more accessible for a three course meal at some of these high caliber restaurants, and I thought that was the point.
But as I called each restaurant to find out their menu, I realized many of them were being a bit stingy. While at first glance, going to a restaurant that charges $47 for a steak might seem like a steal, the only Restaurant Week choice they might offer is chicken or fish, the cheaper options. Steak was almost impossible to find on any of these menus, as these restaurants did not want to serve their higher priced items.
There are two restaurants I’d like to give honorable mentions to those that went above and beyond and offered decent options in their Restaurant Week menus: Primehouse David Burke, and 17 West at the Berghoff. Their menus are as follows:
Chilled Seafood Taster
shrimp cocktail, 1 east coast and 1 west coast oyster
cocktail sauce, mignonette, lime soy sauce
green apple essence, lobster spring roll
Baby Arugula Salad
truffle smoked tomatoes, pinenuts, goat cheese fondue, white balsamic vinaigrette
Petite Southside Bone-in Filet
basil whipped potatoes, tempura green beans
Baby Delmonico Steak
truffle asiago skins, asparagus and shallots
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp Benedict
potato cake, quail eggs, chili oil tapanade
Dessert Sampler: mini slice of prime, cheesecake lollipop, milkshake
1st Course: Applewood Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Strudel or Potato Pierogies
2nd Course: Mixed Grill (grilled lamb chop, pork medallion, & chicken kabob), Wiener Schnitzel or Rib Eye Steak un Poivre (brandy peppercorn sauce with pommes frites and vegetables)
3rd Course: Black Forest Cake, Apple Strudel or Dark Chocolate Dome Terrine
By all means, there were others with fantastic menus but I thought these three really got at the heart of restaurant week. Unfortunately, the best of the best will always be booked up so I was unable to get a reservation at a time that I could make for the above.
Instead, I chose Kiki’s Bistro (the menu you see above) because of its menu’s charm and relaxing atmosphere. Not to mention, I had heard great things so I thought restaurant week would give me a great opportunity to try it out.