Preview: Where to eat for Chicago Restaurant Week

Amber Gibson, Columnist

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Chicago Restaurant Week is back with a vengeance.

From Feb. 1 to 10, you can enjoy $22 three-course prix fixe lunches and $33 or $44 dinners at nearly 250 locations throughout Chicagoland. Even a few of Evanston’s more upscale restaurants are participating. For anyone who enjoys gourmet food but can’t regularly afford to dine out, this is a great chance to try a new place at savings of (often) more than 50 percent. Plus, the beauty of prix fixe menus is you won’t feel like you should skip an appetizer or dessert to save money. It’s already included in the price, so you’re given permission to properly indulge.

Most restaurants have vegetarian options available for Restaurant Week as well. Make your reservations now, or risk missing out. The three Evanston restaurants participating are all fantastic choices:

Bistro Bordeaux, 618 Church St., is a cozy French bistro located just steps from Whole Foods. They are only open for dinner and have quite a generous Restaurant Week menu for $33, including some of their classic dishes like steak pommes frites and steamed mussels. For dessert, try the pain perdu au Calvados, a brioche French toast served a la mode with housemade vanilla ice cream.

Quince, 1625 Hinman Ave., is just a few blocks from Hinman dining hall. Seriously, people — you can get all gussied up, wear heels and walk there without getting a blister. I am salivating over the squash pierogi with fig, pear and sage appetizer on the $33 dinner menu. It’s a toss-up between scallops with risotto and black garlic or mushroom ravioli with sugar snap peas and ricotta for the main course.

Oceanique, 505 Main St., is widely regarded as Evanston’s best seafood restaurant. They are offering a $44 dinner menu that includes a chef’s surprise amuse bouche, seasonal sorbet and chef’s pastry selection, along with your choice of a starter and entree. Scottish salmon with butternut squash, elote (Mexican corn on the cob), turmeric and poblano catches my eye, and I can confidently recommend the calamari and shrimp starter with candied ginger, Meyer lemon, daikon and sake.

Oceanique is also participating in Chicago Originals Restaurant Week, an indie version of the main event, with fewer restaurants. Chicago Originals takes place Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, and at Oceanique you can receive four courses for just $29.13. The menu is nearly identical to the Restaurant Week choices and costs $14.87 less.

If you take the intercampus shuttle to Chicago for work, classes or fun, there are plenty of great options within walking distance of the Ward building in the Gold Coast. For lunch, Bistronomic, Le Colonial and David Burke’s Primehouse are all delicious choices, depending on if you’re looking for French, French-Vietnamese or steakhouse fare. For dinner, Markethouse serves the best comfort food in town, including heirloom squash risotto and their signature butterscotch bread pudding. Mercadito, known for tasty Mexican food in a party environment, has structured its Restaurant Week menu so the table will share a variety of bites. Consider going with a group to maximize your fun.