April 20, 2009

Dine (NOT)

There are LOTS of Hawai'i posts to come, because we ate a ton of good stuff out there. But tonight I am in Chicago, having flown directly here from the islands for work, and I was too tired to go out for dinner -- and I KNOW I'll be eating at Perez at least once for lunch this week, so even walking three blocks didn't seem strictly necessary, and I figured I'd try out Dine, the 1940's-brasserie style restaurant here in the hotel Crowne Plaza at Madison and Halsted.


OMG, I haven't had a restaurant meal this bad in years. YEARS. Shudder. I am eating Trader Joe salty chocolate almonds right now to get the taste of old, stale, jarred garlic out of my tongue.

Breadbasket consisted of a pretzel roll and a sesame roll, which seemed promising, but they were both pretty bland and probably either parbaked or industrially sourced. Oniony butter wasn't too bad. Both were about what I was expecting, to be honest, and so I wasn't prepared for the next two dishes.

A roasted asparagus salad with shaved parmesan and a roasted-garlic lemon sauce had nice enough asparagus, fresh and tender and not too charred, and a boatload of cheese and chives, but the sauce was somehow off. I couldn't quite place it, but it tasted funny and detracted from the otherwise perfectly acceptable asparagus and cheese. In retrospect it was probably the garlic...

...because the second dish had the same problem, 10 times worse. A tepid, faintly gelatinous braised veal cheek without much flavor was on a bed of "caramelized cauliflower puree" -- which should be delicious -- that was so nasty I couldn't bring myself to eat it. Not only was it reekingly sharp with the stale jarred garlic flavor, but it was strangely pasty and runny at the same time, overprocessed to a deranged smoothness. There was a "parmesan broth" that didn't manage to make much of a dent in the overall effect of EEEEEW.

I finished the salad, leaving as much sauce behind as possible (and those of you who know me know that i will lick sauce from plates at the least provocation), and I finished the veal but couldn't do more than a few forkfuls of the cauliflower, and that honestly only to make sure I'd accurately identified the nature of the ick.

Good grief. This place has been open well over a year, I can't imagine how they can still be this far beyond the pale. At 7:15pm on a Monday, the place was deserted, and the handful of diners were all hotel guests from what I could overhear. No wonder, really, given that Chicago has plenty of good restaurants and lots of them even within walking distance -- but I figured at worst I'd be getting a pedestrian but adequate meal, not the unmitigated horror that arrived. How can it stay open?

Posted by foodnerd at April 20, 2009 09:12 PM

Strange: I've walked past that place a number of times going for lunch from work to Greektown, and it's never tempted me to stop and try it. It may have something to do with it always being empty. Anyway, my condolences on your experience. And thanks for sharing--curiosity probably would have gotten the best of me eventually.

Posted by: Steve at April 21, 2009 05:48 PM
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