I am an entrepreneur who enjoys the "old school" pleasure of doing business over a great meal. Other joys include tournament poker, improvisation comedy and bike trips.
Restaurant: Siena Tavern
I'm starting to warm up to the small plate sharing thing within the context of a biz lunch. Resistance is futile, as so many of the tastiest and newest places have gone in this direction. But I really only recommend Siena for entertaining those clients who have also crossed over into Friend status. It's a little too hip, casual, and "after hours" in my opinion for a traditional Power Lunch. And the service is spotty. That said, I enjoyed Siena with two biz contacts who also happen to be Friends (you know who you are!), and within that comfort zone and without the need to clock watch, Siena was fun and very tasty. Broad and interesting menu; we enjoyed the mussels quite a bit and recommend sampling one or more of the excellent pasta dishes.
Incorporate one or more pasta dishes into your small plate sharing experience.
A Power Lawyer introduced Power Lunch to Sunda yesterday, and now I am excited to recommend this one for entertaining the right kind of customer: sophisticated, modern and energetic... which happens to also be my description for the decor and atmosphere. It's the sharing thing, so be careful and only bring the cool client who you know will enjoy a multi-plate experience. Do venture beyond the sushi (which is excellent), and consider some unexpected offerings. As reviewer Jen T wrote, "brussel sprouts salad (x 5)" -- and I thank my counselor friend for suggesting this as well. I look forward to returning and trying the Bentu box and more; the menu at Sunda is too broad for a full review based on one visit.
Sunda clearly wants to be Sushi+. The best "+" item I can recommend so far is the unexpectedly tasty "Crispy Brussel Sprouts Salad."
I'm writing this moments after returning from BellyQ, in a euphoric food high that has inspired me to, just this once, break from my focus on biz lunch reviews. Since biz was discussed with a powerfully fun and successful friend, I'm stretching to make this work within my Pen Name. Heck, who am I fooling? Just eat here. This place is a triumph of flavor. The sauces dazzle, the fresh ingredients melt in mouth, and the experience is seemingly over too fast. This former pickle factory and One-Sixty Blue location has a light, modern, eco-friendly vibe and facelift. The service is knowledgable and helpful. But this place is all about the food. If you like un-boring, Asian inspired meals, I really don't think it gets better than BellyQ.
Chinese Eggplant "little bite" with basil. Thai spiced Chicken. Then, the BBQ yourself BellyQ beef (Korean style cut) with three amazing sauces. Small portions designed for multiple selections and sharing.
Restaurant: GT Fish and Oyster
I'll start the New Year off with a review of a personal after work favorite that, for the right client, can double as a very cool biz lunch choice. I see that GT Fish And Oyster has been reviewed quite frequently already by other Mafia members, a clear sign that this place is awesome... so I'll just add my two cents as it relates to the lunch experience. Unlike a date or a group dinner outing, sharing dishes at a biz lunch is awkward and I recommend against it. Those who know GT's dinner style understand that small dishes and sharing are part of that experience. Thankfully, GT seems to understand the biz lunch issue and offers very satisfying stand alone choices such as the Lobster Roll and Fish Tacos. GT is an outstanding selection when you truly know your client already, and want to please the hip guest who will enjoy a diversion away from the center Loop and common lunch dishes.
An exception to the no-sharing over a biz lunch is the excellent Baja Shrimp Brushetta. I recommend getting this for the table first and then everyone getting their own entrees from there. Also pre-entree: if your guest is into Oysters, obviously get a selection to start.
Restaurant: Cantina Laredo
When asked for the cuisine style to avoid when planning a biz lunch, my first response is Mexican. I usually associate this style of food (which I love, by the way) with casual evenings, drinks, and very un-biz like atmosphere. Enter Cantina Laredo, a very Power Lunch worthy selection. Very modern decor with a youthful yet sophisticated vibe. You know I'm all about the atmosphere. This will be a treat for the client who may be tired of the "same old" choices. The only complaint you might hear is that this is one of a chain. True, but it's new to Chicago. Cuisine choices are flavorful, less greasy and more expensive versions of the stuff we love, such as enchiladas, tableside guacamole (a must), fish tacos, etc. See below for my favorite. This is state of the art Mexican and worth the price; of course, money is never a consideration anyway when entertaining a client. Remember that.
Chile Relleno, taking this basic dish to a new level of tasty with almonds, raisins and beef filling, covered in a very nice ranchero sauce.
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