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Industry Experts Discuss 2010 Restaurant Breakups

Great Lake got dumped for making people wait for it to get ready
Great Lake got dumped for making people wait for it to get ready
Photo: Slice

As 2010 comes to a close, Eater surveyed a number of industry types, writers, eaters and more. We asked the group eight questions, everything from Restaurant Standbys and Top Newcomers to Single Best Meal and Best Dining Neighborhood. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we check out today to ring in the New Year.

Q: Were there any restaurants that you broke up with in 2010 -- eg, places you stopped going to?

Chandra Ram, Plate: It’s tough to go to Great Lake now that I no longer live around the corner; waiting two hours for take-out is a pain when you can’t run home in between. I wouldn’t call it a break-up, though, more that we are seeing other people while we pretend to work on our issues. Sometimes we wind up back together after a few drinks, but it’s not exclusive.

Carly Fisher, The Feast: Handlebar, for one. Also, I know Longman & Eagle is wildly popular for some reason, but I've never really got that place, sorry.

Alpana Singh, Lettuce Entertain You and Check, Please!: Sprinkles cupcakes and I are on a break. My addiction to them was entering dangerous territory so I had to put a temporary end to it. My gym is across the street from them every day I have to remind myself to be strong and keep walking.

Michael Nagrant, New City: I definitely spend a lot less time at “authentic” taquerias since Big Star launched.

Michael Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon: Not a restaurant but a category of them-- I find it harder and harder to get lured downtown, to the Loop or the Mag Mile. I can feel the pain of the extra bucks for rent and property taxes in every menu item, and I'll accept that if it's transcendently good. But there are so many really good places out in the neighborhoods, even Michelin had to pay attention and get off the tourist strips and tell people from France or Japan or whatever to get their butts up to Bucktown or Logan Square to really eat in Chicago. To me that's such a strength of our scene, it is almost Parisian or Italian in that honest high quality cooking is being done just down the street by chef-proprietors of modest places, not just in the glitzy commercial center. So I almost feel like it's a mission to honor those places, and not paying for parking and overpriced cocktails is just a side benefit.

Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: Mado by necessity (RIP), Salam by choice.

David Hammond, LTHForum and Sun Times: Grape Leaves in Oak Park, a standby for years, but not visited in a while, has over time precipitously declined. Baba ghanoush spiked with vinegar (WTF?!), chicken pita studded with big chunks of lemon, it was a dazzlingly bad acid trip, a tummy bummer I will not risk repeating.

Rodrick Markus, Rare Tea Cellar: Gino's East and Giordano's

Liz Grossman, Plate: Bongo Room, just couldn't deal with the wait anymore.

Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: I had to stop eating at Epic Burger. I would see people who worked there around town, and they'd be like, "You look familiar. Do you eat at Epic Burger a lot?" Not healthy.

Nick Kindelsperger, Grub Street: That’s a tough one. There are so many places I'm trying to visit, I often never get the chance to return to a place for a second taste. That said, the last Italian beef I had from Mr. Beef was a disgrace. How it beat Al’s #1 on Taylor in Food Wars is beyond me.

Heather Sperling, Tasting Table: Not a breakup, but one restaurant and I are on a break (until they change the menu and stop overdressing salads).

Penny Pollack, Chicago: Gioco
Mizu, Wishbone, Green Zebra, Duchamp, Mixteco, La Bocca della Verita

Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Great Lake. I don’t have the time.

Natasha Liberman, a la card: Do first dates that will never get a second date count? There were two highly hyped restaurants that I found shockingly bad. Sorry, not saying which two...

Great Lake

1477 W Balmoral Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 773 334 9270

Bongo Room

1470 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 489-0690 Visit Website

Big Star

1531 North Damen Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 235-4039 Visit Website