Yes, River North spot Vermilion ( 10 W. Hubbard St.; TheVermilionRestaurant.com ) has diners seeing redliterally.
True to its name, the restaurant has red sprinkled through, whether it's one seat out of a set, or a cascade of red light bulbs on a wallgiving the place a seductive vibe that makes it the perfect spot for a date. ( However, the atmostphere is more than seductive, making it a spot that friends or co-workers can patronize as well. )
I previously visited this Indian/Latin American fusion spot a few years ago, and I still remembered my main complaint about the cuisine: Although everything was delicious, some of the items didn't taste like the advertised ingredients. Maybe my palate was off that nightbut there was a definite difference with my most recent visit.
The artichoke pakoras are distinctly uniquenot for their taste, but for the way they were served: on a miniature tricycle. The fritters themselves were slightly bland, although the eggplant-coconut chutney certainly saved them. The duck vindaloo ( with pomegrante molasses ) left a more favorable impression, from a gustatory standpoint, as did the cilantro tamarind paneer.
( By the way, most of the meat-based appetizers have vegetarian substitutes. For example, vegetarians can opt for portabella instead of toasted coconut shrimp. )
As for the main dishes, my friend went for the plantain-crusted whitefish and the butter chicken. The fish was probably my favorite dish of the night, with plantain and tomatillo sauce enhancing and not overwhelming the seafood. The butter chicken turned out to be a delicious choice as well, thanks to the creamy gravy.
The meal concluded with a dessert trio of shahi tukra ( nut cake ), flourless chocolate cake and mango flan. The first itemsponge cake with cardamom, topped with pistachios and almondswas a runaway favorite for me.
So grab a friend ( or a date ) and hit Vermilion. It's a wonderfully exotic experience.
Note: Restaurant profiles are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.