Dinner Is Fun Again

A slew of new menu options makes dining out a pleasure-filled experience

One of the -- shall we say -- upsides to the current economic crisis (how many times have you heard that phrase in the past few months?) is the creative ways businesses are trying to get customers in the door. We've reported on inventive gimmicks that various Chicago restaurants have come up with before, and now we'll take a look at a variety of clever new menus that just might entice diners to put down the Lean Cuisine and pick up their debit card.

You might actually want to take out a small loan before dining at Lincoln Park's L20, one of the city's most upscale dining experiences (but, by all accounts, it's totally worth it to try celebrated chef Laurent Gras' mind-blowing takes on seafood and more). Through the end of the month, L20 is serving its "Tete a Tete" menu, which features inspired pairings of two ingredients that play off of each other to create a single note of flavor (think crystal ice lettuce with Meyer lemon and hamachi with foie gras). The six-course culinary journey is $90.

For something a bit more down to earth (and good for a group), consider the Korean barbecue special at Kohan in University Village. The prix-fixe menu is available Mondays through Thursdays and offers either six (for four people, $60) or seven courses (for six people, $90) with such favorites as Korean barbecued short ribs and bibimbap, along with miso soup, edamame and stir-fried spicy pork dishes.

At the charming Old Town Brasserie, owner Bob Djahanguiri is celebrating 30 years in the restaurant business (he formerly helmed Toulouse, Yvette and Yvette Wintergarden) by offering a $32 three-course, prix-fixe menu through April 15. Old Town Brasserie executive chef Andy Motto combines fine-dining French classics with seasonal, accessible dishes. The prix-fixe menu, which includes a choice of soup or Lyonnaise salad for the first course; grilled salmon, sake-brined pork and crispy belly or herb-roasted Amish chicken for an entree; and either pistachio souffle, peanut butter pave or Meyer lemon tart for dessert, is available Monday through Saturday evenings.

For night owls looking for a pizza fix, check out La Madia's new late-night prix-fixe. The popular River North pizzeria is featuring a nightly special from 9PM to close, offering your choice of any salad, any pizza and a glass of the WOW (the featured red or white Wine of the Week) or select beer for $27 per couple.

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