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Best Earth Day celebration

Evanston, Food & Drink No Comments »

Bistro Bordeaux

They love to celebrate at Bistro Bordeaux in Evanston. Owner Pascal Berthoumieux, a Bordeaux native, demonstrates how to open  Champagne with a knife and wine without a corkscrew through videos uploaded to YouTube. And they have lots to celebrate. Earlier this year, L20 vet Johnny Besch came to helm the kitchen as executive chef from his last, sunnier post working under famed chef Alain Ducasse at MiX on the Beach in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. The restaurant regularly finds other reasons to raise a glass, including on Earth Day, when they host an annual sword-tap-on-the-shoulder of all things green. A “wild spring bounty” menu this past April 22 featured chilled watercress soup, ramps and peas. While Besch may change up his Earth Day 2012 menu, the unique ambiance on which Berthoumieux perennially insists will be repeated. For Earth Day dinner, unnatural light is turned off completely in the dining room and hundreds of small glass balls are hung from the ceiling with fishing line. Because the lines can not be easily seen, the balls appear to be floating in air. Each “floating” ball seems to be holding its own tea light, like Earth Day vigil attendees, each one clutching a candle. “It looks like a room full of floating orbs of light,” Pascal says proudly.

Bistro Bordeaux
618 Church, Evanston

Best of Chicago 2011

Best new restaurant (opened in the last year or so)

Audience Choice, Food & Drink, Gold Coast, West Loop No Comments »


We didn’t agree with many of the Michelin Guide’s new ratings, but the two stars they awarded to Ria were pretty spot on. Impeccable service, one of Chicago’s best sommeliers Dan Pilkey, and inspired dishes like lobster with a chestnut sabayon, fennel and orange make this the best Chicago restaurant opening since L20.

11 East Walton at the Elysian Hotel

Audience choice:

Girl and the Goat
809 West Randolph

Best fake reason Laurent Gras left Lettuce Entertain You’s L20 after it was awarded three stars

Food & Drink No Comments »

Lettuce Entertain You owner Rich Melman refused to modify an employment contract awarding Gras a lifetime supply of M Burgers and Wow Bao dumplings.

Best of Chicago 2010

Best locally made bread

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Lincoln Park, Ukrainian Village No Comments »


Technically you can’t really take this stuff home, but the only things better than the seafood at this Michelin three-star temple are the creamy pain au lait, micro-baguettes with chewy crumb and rich crunchy crust, mini-anchovy-stuffed croissants and bacon-infused bread twists made in L20’s Pavailler, a steam-injected stone-floored oven that ensures a quick airy rising crumb that doesn’t dry out.

2300 North Lincoln Park West

Audience choice:

D’Amato’s Bakery
1124 West Grand

1332 West Grand

Best of Chicago 2010

Best new restaurant (opened in the last year or so)

Audience Choice, Food & Drink, Lincoln Park, Logan Square No Comments »


L20 is probably what you’d get if you threw Napa Valley’s French Laundry, New York’s sushi dream theater Masa, TRU and Alinea into a blender and poured it out in the old Ambria space in the Belden-Stratford Hotel. Featuring the best fresh-bread service in Chicago, the most exciting sommelier in Chantelle Pabros and Chef Laurent Gras’ super-duper micro-managed attention to kitchen detail, this restaurant will be tough to surpass for some time.

2300 N. Lincoln Park West

Audience choice:
Urban Belly
3053 N. California

Best of Chicago 2008