During our recent Christmas trip into Chicago, we spent some time on Christmas Eve doing some window shopping along the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave. For the day before Christmas, it was still pretty busy with a lot of people getting last minute gifts. I was certainly glad we didn't have to be running around looking for gifts.
We decided to go get some lunch at the Rosebud on Rush - a well-known Italian restaurant in Chicago (see map). Actually, there's a number of Rosebud restaurants in the Chicago area - nine of them, all told. Plus there's two others under the Rosebud umbrella - Carmine's and Ballo. Each of the Rosebud restaurants are unique unto themselves, which makes them very different from a typical chain restaurant. (Picture courtesy Planet99.com)
The original Rosebud was opened in 1977 by Alex Dana in the Little Italy section of Chicago on Taylor Street (see map). The original name of Rosebud was "Bocciola della Rosa", which means "Bud of the Rose" in Italian. But Dana's customers couldn't pronounce the name so a year later he just changed it to the more simple "Rosebud". (Picture courtesy Planet99.com)
Over the years, celebrities and dignitaries - including a number of notables from the Chicago underworld - flocked to Rosebud. Frank Sinatra said it was his favorite restaurant in Chicago and would always go there when he'd come to town.
In 1992, Dana opened his second location - Rosebud on Rush. It kept a lot of the old world charm his original restaurant had on Taylor Street. And it became a favorite of people who were in the downtown Chicago area for business or shopping.
There are now a number of Rosebud's in the Chicago suburbs, each of them serving the great food Dana made famous from years before.
We've eaten at the original Rosebud on Taylor Street a few years ago for Cindy's birthday. It was quite the culinary experience. We made a pact to go back again sometime, but with all the eating options in Chicago, we've never made it back.
Now, I'd read in the Chicago Tribune that one of the best burgers in the Chicago area is the one they serve at lunch from the Rosebud on Rush. Since we were right near the restaurant around 1 p.m. we decided to head in for lunch.
The Rosebud on Rush location is actually a little more elegant than the original Rosebud on Taylor. Being that it is in the downtown area and kitty-cornered from the very chic, 5-star Peninsula Hotel, I'm sure they get a higher end clientele in the place.
We went up the stairs and were seated at a table in the about 1/3 full restaurant. There were families in the restaurant, no doubt taking a break from shopping or sight-seeing on the day before Christmas.
We were handed our menus and I immediately began to look for the burger. I couldn't find it. It was the regular dinner menu. I really wanted the lunch menu, so I motioned for our waiter. I said, "I understand you guys have an outstanding hamburger on your menu, but I can't seem to find it. Did you give us the wrong menu?"
He explained that on weekends and holidays they only serve the dinner menu all day. "And we consider Christmas Eve to be a holiday," he said.
Well, I was hungry, but not THAT hungry. We were planning on going out to eat for dinner before our annual Christmas Eve movie and that would be in about five hours. So, it was back to perusing the menu looking for something light.
One of the specials they offered that day was a Chilean sea bass. Cindy thought that would be light enough, so she got that. Eric got the fettuccine Alfredo with grilled chicken chunks. I agonized over a couple three different things on the menu and opted for the veal piccata. It came with a side of pasta, but I figured that it wouldn't be too filling.
More people began to filter in while we were eating lunch. I don't know how crowded it gets during the regular working day, but I would have to say it was about half-full by the time we got our lunch served.
Of course, the portions were too large for lunch. Eric's big bowl of fettuccine Alfredo was too much food. I had four good sized pieces of veal on my plate. And Cindy's sea bass filet was a huge cut.
My veal was - well - OK. I haven't had a lot of luck with veal lately. It seems I seem to get a lot of tough and overcooked pieces when I order it. Two of the pieces of veal were wonderful - flavorful and tender. The other two, however, were tough and lifeless. It was a 50 percent proposition, at best. I'm just going to have to get something else other than veal for the next few meals at an Italian restaurant.
Eric liked his fettuccine, but it was too much. He ate all the grilled chicken out of it and left over half of the fettuccine noodles in the bowl.
Cindy's bass, however, was unbelievably great. She gave me a bite of it and I immediately knew that she got the best meal at the table - again. The fish was light, tender and flaky. It was seasoned with a nice blend of spices that enhanced the taste. It was very, very good.
Because they were serving from the dinner menu, our lunch wasn't all that cheap - it came to over $100 with tip and tax. Cindy's sea bass was $34.95! Earlier, Eric asked what the term "market" meant on the menu next to the lobster. I said, "It means that if you have to ask the market price, you probably can't afford it." Well,it was the same with the specials menu. The waiter didn't give us the price and Cindy got sucked right in. But I'll have to say once again, it was very, very good.