So far in 2010, we've had some wonderful meals at exceptional restaurants. The rule is that the establishment has to be new to at least one of us and we have a lot of fun choosing where to dine next. One of my favorite ways to find new restaurants is through OpenTable.com I've set my profile to the Chicago area, but they offer options for all over the U.S. (and in Canada, too). Membership is free and for every reservation you make and hold, they award 100 points. Get to 2,000 and you can receive a $20 dining check in the mail. I love this!
The points are great, but the part I like best is the selection of restaurants they offer. I've found so many wonderful restaurants I would otherwise never have known about. This service is *genius* and we use it as much as we can. Chicago has hundreds -- thousands -- of great restaurants. How to choose? That's why I love OpenTable.
Sunday, my husband and I were looking for a place to enjoy our "Christmas" dinner and we wanted it to be near The Redhead Piano Bar because we'd won a $50 gift certificate at the Lifeline Theatre fundraiser last year and the certificate was about to expire.
Enter OpenTable and its myriad choices. I finally settled on Blue 13, a small restaurant on Ontario, just a few blocks west of Redhead. The reason we chose this one was because they offered a Sunday night "Family Style" special - just wacky and weird enough to pique our interest. Most restaurants in that area are upscale, trendy, foodie-worthy. "Family style" in that neighborhood surprised us. So we decided to see what was up.
Wow, wow, wow.
Blue 13 is a very trendy place. From the street, it doesn't look like much - a small presence in a vibrant part of the city. But inside - it's gorgeous. Lovely contemporary decor, with a wonderful balance of dark enough to feel cozy, bright enough to see what you're eating. Small, welcoming, it instantly put us in the right mood. Paul was our waiter - extremely pleasant and attentive. The restaurant's tagline is "Now that you're an adult, dine like one." Do you love it? I do.
Although they had a regular menu that tempted us with pan-seared scallops and "Steak and Egg on Acid," we opted for the family style dinner. Dinner salad, whitefish over baby bok choy, scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts (mouthwateringly fabulous, cooked with bacon), and a dessert to share -- a blueberry creme brulee topped with vanilla gelato.
Yes, it was served "family style" and yes, there was probably more food than we needed to eat, but ... delicious doesn't begin to describe this meal. We enjoyed every morsel and already started planning which of our friends and family we want to bring here next time.
From Blue 13's website I discovered that this venture is a collaboration between two friends. I think one of them was manning the bar while we were there. Have I told you how welcoming the place is? Probably. But I can't say enough.
Blue 13 is a real find. If you're in the Chicago area, check it out.