Are these meals worth leaving the comfort of the couch?
Kaiseki dinner at Takashi(1952 N Damen Ave, 773-772-6170) What’s the shtick? Fresh off being named “Top Chef Fan Favorite,” Takashi Yagihashi has scrapped his restaurant’s Sunday-noodle days in favor of a higher-end tasting menu known as a kaiseki, offered in either seven ($73) or 11 ($100) courses, with optional beverage pairings. Who would go to this? People looking for a special-occasion meal on a Sunday night. Die-hard Takashi and/or Top Chef Masters fans. Why do this instead of watch Homeland? Yagihashi’s food at Takashi is consistently terrific. Highlights from the opening dinner on October 7: cubes of pork belly with amazingly hot mustard and winter melon, miso-glazed sea trout with a seaweed salad and a creamy sheep’s-milk panna cotta paired with a raspberry macaron with an intriguing wasabi finish. What’s not to like? Service for the initial dinner was clearly overwhelmed and some dishes fell short, which was a particular bummer in the case of the final savory course, a bland bowl of vermicelli noodles with chopped chicken.—Julia Kramer
Sunday Supper at Paris Club(59 W Hubbard St, 312-595-0800) What’s the shtick? It’s the one night of the week when Paris Club isn’t swarmed with a buzzy after-work crowd or a buzzy weekend crowd, and the restaurant has chosen to embrace the low-key vibe with a super-simple three-course dinner for two for $59. Who would go to this? Couples who like to hear each other talk. People who only eat at Lettuce restaurants. Why do this instead of watch Homeland? Because it’s exactly the kind of comfort food you want to eat on a Sunday night: The meal features a crisp-skinned, mysteriously “boneless” whole roast chicken, preceded by a large, barely dressed green salad and followed by a seasonal dessert—individual fresh-fig clafoutis on my visit. What’s not to like? When the chicken arrived with a side of asparagus (in September), it felt more corporate than farm-to-table. Seasoning throughout the meal was extremely mild. The chicken had light, crispy (but not especially flavorful) skin.—JK
Sunday TV Dinners at MarketHouse(300 E Ohio St, 312-224-2200) What’s the shtick? Every Sunday through the rest of the year, MarketHouse offers a $30, three-course “TV dinner”—complete with retro TV shows. Each month the historical theme of the dinners changes; right now we’re in the ’50s, with the ’60s (November) and ’70s (December) coming up. Who would go to this? Rockabilly enthusiasts. Geriatrics. Tourists staying in the DoubleTree Hotel. Why do this instead of watch Homeland? Because the food from the ’50s is kind of charming. A relish tray complete with cheese ball is a little confusing (wait—are we supposed to eat the ball?), but it, like the juicy turkey with stuffing, is also sort of soothing. What’s not to like? The fried chicken was underseasoned and dry, and arrived with underbaked apples. And the baked Alaska was the size of a three-month-old baby—which wouldn’t have been a problem, except it was too frozen to eat.—David Tamarkin
Le diner dimanche at Chez Moi(2100 N Halsted St, 773-871-2100, chezmoichicago.com) What’s the shtick? Chef Dominique Tougne’s French bistro offers soup or salad, a hearty cassoulet and dessert for just $27. Coming here is the equivalent of having a French grandmother feed you comfort food while tsking that you’re too skinny. Who would go to this? People using food to numb the pain of having to work the next day. Also, on the night of our visit, lots of gray-hairs. Why do this instead of watch Homeland? Sun-dried tomatoes cut through the creaminess of the mushroom soup, and garlic sausage in the cassoulet adds a welcome sharp bite. But the gâteau Breton, a dense shortbread cake that must contain two sticks of butter, is the main attraction: Even though you’ll be stuffed, you’ll be powerless in the face of its deliciousness. What’s not to like? The mushroom soup was lukewarm. And after all this heavy food, you’ll be too sleepy to watch Homeland on your DVR.—Laura Baginski