Chicago – 7/24/16 – Nico Osteria

I swore I was going to cease Nico Osteria posts as there are already too many of them and it is well established as one of my favorites in Chicago.  But evidently I can’t stop plus there were many new menu items. We loved the new formaggi dish that we tried and the burrata salad I have admittedly had again since this particular visit!
Aperol spritz

Gorgonzola cremificato – cows milk, financier biscotti, apple, blueberry balsamic

Madai snapper – kohlrabi salsa verde, basil & wild king salmon – fermented chile, black lava salt, cherry

Burrata – mission figs, grilled kale, treviso, pecan pesto, flat iron steak

NYC – 1/29/16 – Nico Osteria

A trip to Chicago never seems to feel complete without a visit to Nico.  When it opened this quickly became one of my favorites and there is rarely a weekend I am in town and don’t end up here.  Just consistently fantastic.

Kanpachi & snapper crudo
 Brussels Sprouts Bruschetta – stracciatella cheese, lemon honey, trufflebert hazelnuts
 Seared Tuna salad – avocado, pistachio, orange, basil, poppyseed vinaigrette

Chicago – 10/3/15 – Nico Osteria, Green River & Alinea

Nico Osteria
I’m pretty sure I swore I’d stop blogging about my trips to Nico because there have been way too many.  But I just can’t help it.  Still my favorite brunch in Chicago with consistently fantastic crudo, pasta and cocktails.  And it is always lovely to see familiar faces.

Rock fish crudo
 Rigatoni with a northern ragu
 Gem lettuce, caper berries, fig-balsamic vinaigrette, parmesan
 Salumi & Cheese – La Quercia ham, mortadella, milano salami, goat cheese

Green River
This was only a brief stop for pre-dinner cocktails which of course were fabulous.  More comments on our lunch two days later in a future post.  

I’m fairly certain that I’ve been to Alinea more times than any other restaurant.  First world problems my brother would say.  I suppose I am fortunate but also need to stay home long enough to become a regular anywhere in NYC.   Still my favorite restaurant in the US and I can’t imagine that anything will knock off black truffle explosion as the best bite of all time.  On every visit I’m completely blown away by something and wonder how they will top it the next time, but they always do.  This meal Chef Davies’ trout dish was my favorite hands down.  I can’t wait to see what Alinea 2.0 has in store.

Peach – basil, murray river salt
 Bocadillo – bread, jamon iberico, manchego
Gilda – guindilla de ibarra, anchovy, olive
Jamon iberico – cantaloupe, salt, espelette
Tortilla – potato, onion, egg
Patatas Bravas – paprika, chile, garlic
 Strawberry – tomato, pumpernickel, burratta
 Char Roe – english pea, olive oil, chamomile
 Brook Trout – uchiki kuri squash, thai banana, blis
 Graffiti – matsutake, maitake, parsley

Unagi – pickled plum, white sesame

Corn – uni, nori, togarashi

Totoro Kombu – hamachi, ice fish cracker

Percebes – smoke, seawater, ash

Chicken – shishito, lily, kombu
 Hot Potato – cold potato, black truffle, butter
 Wagyu – matsutake, ginger, black garlic

Black Truffle – explosion, romaine, parmesan

Olive Cake – extra virgin olive oil, black pepper
Lamb – caper leaf, grapes, olives

Bacon – butterscotch, thyme, black pepper
 Parsnip – honey truffle, vanilla, orange
Balloon – helium, green apple (missing a photo)
Tropical Fruit – rum, vanilla, kaffir lime

Chicago – 12/1/15 – Nico Osteria

My Chicago Nico posts may have eclipsed my NY Nomad ones and it might be a problem that I have dined here probably far more than any of my Chicago friends.  It certainly helps that I often stay at the Thompson but regardless it just quickly became one of my favorites.

Madai Snapper, kohlrabi salsa verde, nasturtium

Stracciatella Fett’unta – Brussels sprouts, lemon honey, trufflebert hazelnuts

Bistecca al’Nico – braised beans, arugula, pecorino, fried egg

Tagliolini – clams, leeks, chile



Chicago – 1/2/15 – Nico Osteria, the lounge @ Sixteen, and The Berkshire Room

Nico Osteria
How completely predictable to find myself back here again. But when you have friends who haven’t been it’s the perfect justification.
Madai snapper – kohlrabi salsa verde, nasturtium

Endive salad – butter lettuce, hazelnut, pear, ribiolina

Bar Harbor Mussels – vermouth, almond butter

Rigatoni -northern ragu

The lounge at Sixteen
Sixteen is at the top of my to-do list as soon as spring hits Chicago and it is warm enough to at least set foot on the terrace. But even in winter this is the best view in Chicago. The absolute perfect evening to be enjoying a glass of Dom Perignon with the best possible view of one of my favorite buildings in Chicago. Thank you Doug for taking such good care of us!




Berkshire Room
Definitely one of my Chicago favorites! A great evening catching up with friends old and new!


Chicago – 12/30/14 – Nico Osteria and Next

I’m not sure I could even count on one hand the number of meals I have had in a hotel in all of my travels. For the most part I do my best to avoid the restaurants and the suggestions of every front desk clerk and concierge that offers to make me reservations. But its too difficult to pass up Nico Osteria when staying at the Thompson, especially when you don’t have to put on a coat and brave the frigid Chicago temps to get there. The minestrone photographed poorly but this was the best soup I have had all winter and is one of those dishes I could eat everyday until spring. And a salad that rivals the aesthetics (and taste) of Nico’s crudo. The perfect pre-nap meal.

Minestrone – poached egg, pancetta, Parmesan

Marinated beet salad – salami toscano, frisée, clockshadow caprino, mint


As this was my second time having Next’s Trio menu I won’t re-post photos. I will just say this menu moves fairly close to the top of my rankings of all of them. And in 2016 could we please do a Greatest Hits menu????

Chicago – 8/8/14 – Nico Osteria, Balena, Aviary

Nico Osteria
Nico has quickly become one of my Chicago favorites. I have stayed at the Thompson a few times on previous trips so it is certainly convenient for breakfast but is actually excellent at any time of the day.

Blueberry Cobbler – blueberry Death’s Door gin, citrus, honey, Amaro Cardamoro

Black Bream, lemon cucumber, pumpkin seed, almond oil

Striped Jack, citron vinegar, bird chile, radish, mint

Heirloom tomato salad, tonnato, farro, olive, lemon vinaigrette


Bar Harbor mussels, vermouth, almond butter


Artichoke autostrada, burrata cheese, pine nut-mint pesto


Tiramisu, marsala zabologine, aged lady finger crunch, white coffee


It has been far too long since I’ve been to Balena. And it was an added treat to unexpectedly find one of my favorite people working there!

Buffalo milk cheeses – Blu di Bufala, Caciocavallo, Casatica


Grilled zucchini romanesco, Calabrian vinaigrette, mint, almond


Shishito peppers


Orecchiette, kale, lemon, bread crumbs, chili


Rigatoni, pork ragu, porcini mushrooms


Glazed carrots, ginger, honey, mint



Amazing new stuff on the current menu including perhaps my favorite porthole since Aviary opened.

IFL Science – honey, blueberry, ginger, scotch




Monkey Tail – 1/2 frozen daiquiri, 1/2 brown & stirred


Heart of Stone – pistachio, fresno, peach, lapsang, whiskey