Friday, October 7, 2011

Grand Lux Café Chicago—the Rich Relative

Dining Room as Seen from the Bar

      We've dined at the Grand Lux Cafés in both Las Vegas and Chicago for the past decade and have always found them to be memorable and a great value.  When we met our friend Monica in Chicago for dinner on a recent Friday night, we hadn't made reservations so decided to stop in the Grand Lux on Ontario Street to inquire about the wait. It was only 20 minutes (incredible for a Friday night).  Waiting at the bar we introduced ourselves to Ola, a retired Chicago school teacher, and regretted that our conversation ended so soon when our table became ready.  (Chicago is a friendly city, you know.)

Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich
Braised Pot Roast
      We had a lot of catching up to do with Monica and our server was more than happy to comply.  When we were ready, Monica ordered the Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich, Carolina BBQ style.  Eric and I both chose the Braised Pot Roast because it's not something he typically serves at home.  Monica praised her sandwich and the fries that accompanied it.  She asked that the peanut cole slaw (usually served on top of the pork) be put on the side.  In spite of that, she chose not to sample it, so sorry—no comment.  We both enjoyed the pot roast.  It was tender, although not the most mouth-melting that we've had.  The mashed potatoes were creamy and the vegetables were nicely steamed.  We couldn't resist the long list of desserts, some of which are baked to order.  The Banana Vanilla Wafer Pudding was our pick.  The presentation was unexpected and the flavors brought us back to our childhoods.  The accompanying chocolate-peanut dipped frozen banana made it over the top.  News on the street was that the New Orleans Beignets are phenomenal also.

Banana Vanilla Wafer Pudding
      Grand Lux Café is the younger, more affluent sister to the Cheesecake Factory.  That's not a typical business move for national chains, one that is usually kept to the more local chef circuits (i.e. LA's Wolfgang Puck and, for Cincinnati, Jean Robert and David Falk).  But it translates seamlessly in this instance and is well worth putting on your shortlist while touring downtown Chicago.

While Neil and Eric were at the Grand Lux Café in Chicago, I decided to relax a little on my grand lux pillow.  Looks like a grand lux time was had by all.

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