Ruxbin, Ukrainian Village. I finally went to Ruxbin. Yes, it’s right down the street from me and I’d never been. But Shanna Quinn was good enough to prompt me out of my rut. (Take-out Chinese, the exercise bike…not together, but you get the point.) We were the second to arrive on a Thursday evening, and we were granted a sunnny table by the window. For what was to be a lovely, lovely meal. Starters of flat bread and calamari were generous portions, but still amazingly light. Allowing much space for the beefy goodness of what was to come. Hanger steak and chimchurri don’t come much better than here. You know if I eat my leftovers for breakfast, that’s an excellent sign. I liked it here. The no-bookings policy irks me a bit because it is so close and I do want to go often, but the advance-planning…I become less of an advance-planner as I get older. The Verdict: In short, go. Photos over here on my Facebook fan page. Note: Don’t be scared when you go to the bathroom. No one can get in. Really.
Prasino, Wicker Park. I enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch here with my friends Irina and Mohan a couple of weekends ago. The place is HUGE. It’s a pretty space, but the type of space I expect to be all scuffed-up and worn looking within the year. Is that bad of me? Yes. But seriously…how will they afford the upkeep? I had the roasted turkey club with turkey, bacon, swiss, arugula, tomato, avocado, and Parmesan aioli on a pretzel croissant. It was fine. It was just messy to eat, and I had one of those “America, this is why you’re fat” moments. And then our server took forever to do anything remotely server-like, and I was disappointed. The Verdict: Good, not great. But the outdoor seating on a nice day is ace.
Blue 13, River North. (Well, sort of River North, because it’s like close to the expressway.) My old grad-school friend Holly and I had a good catch-up here over lobster pizza and pork chops. Firstly, it’s a nice space but by the end of the night, I couldn’t hear myself think. And it’s not a bar. It just has terribly poor acoustics. Also, the tables are very close together. I don’t mind this in France because, well, it’s France. But going to the bathroom at Blue 13 if you’re sitting on the banquet side…a chore. Back to the food…the lobster pizza was flabby in the middle. The pork chop was as big as my head…tasty but BIG. I ate it for THREE DAYS afterwards. Do I need to say it one more time…America, this is why… The Verdict: Good.
What next…GT Fish & Oyster, I go to Mexico, and then I go to the richest country in the world. The country that’s going to own our asses soon. If they don’t already. Qatar. Amazing.