The Ritz-Carlton has undergone a radical change.
Walking around the 12th floor of the hotel, the renovations are strikingfor example, the opulent fountain that was present is no longer there. Another alteration is the Italian steakhouse Torali ( 160 E. Pearson St.; toralichicago.com ), which combines stately elegance with the service one would expect at such a restaurant.
Unfortunately, my dining companion and I came to the conclusion that the food didn't uniformly meet the standards that Torali's appearance ( as well as the celebrity-and-socialite crowd ) set. ( I'm pretty sure I saw former pro-baseball player Mike Piazza thereor maybe it was just a lookalike. )
Things seemed to start promisingly, with huge polenta fries arranged artfully in a Jenga-like pattern; however, we agreed that the fries were exceedingly saltynot the last time that would happen during our lunch. Conversely, the meatballs ( veal, lamb and mortadella, with bread crumbs and ricotta salata ) were absolutely sublime.
The same went for my entreea seemingly simple dish of spaghetti and shrimp that was accompanied by summer squash, grana padano, basil and olive oil. And my friend said that his filet mignon was incredibly tenderbut, again, it was salty, sadly.
The dessert, however, elicited oohs and aahsan apple-themed piece of artwork that arrived looking exactly like the fruit. Even more gratifyingly, it managed to taste just as good as it looked.
Also, a shout-out has to go to the server, George. Not only did he provide exquisite service, but the longtime Ritz employee ( 30 years! ) regaled my friend and I with tales about meeting everyone from Whitney Houston to Sylvester Stallone.
I would recommend checking out Torali. While there were a couple disappontments in the menu, the offerings are worth checking outas are the hotel's renovations. ( BTW, the dishes are more affordable than you might think, being no more expensive than those at some trendy River North spots. )
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.
'Wrapped' brunch Dec. 10
Boystown restaurant Wood, 3335 N. Halsted St., will host the "Wrapped in Red Drag Brunch" beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Guests are invited to don their most vibrant crimson ensembles as they enjoy a brunch with local drag queen Wanda Screw as emcee.
The special ho-ho-holiday menu will consist of dishes from Chef Ashlee Aubin ( Alinea; Salero ), like mascarpone-frosted cinnamon rolls, homemade corned-beef hash, pumpkin-spiced waffles, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, and more. There will also be a special holiday cocktail, the Wanda Screwdriver.
See WoodChicago.com .