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#1
Posted January 3rd 2007, 3:42pm
As I've made some reference to on this forum, my wife is currently on bed rest due to complications from pre-term labor.

[Edited to add: Twins were born March 1, 2007. Everybody is happy and healthy now].

Traditionally, she and I go out for a great meal on New Year's Eve. This year, due to doctor's orders, that was impossible.

A few days before New Year's Eve, I e-mailed Naha advising them of the situation and asking if there was any way they could prepare a meal for carry out.

The response (from Chris): No problem at all. Just contact Michael or James that evening.

On New Year's Eve, I did call and spoke with Michael. We went over the menu discussing which dishes might travel well. We came up with a menu for the evening consisting of "duck liver", a beet salad, venison, duck, and a cheesecake dessert. A half hour later I picked it up.

The food was extremely good. The duck liver was outstanding, and the actual duck rivaled any duck that I've ever eaten. The other dishes were also very good.

Naha really came through. I've come to expect great meals there. The service provided to us that night went above and beyond though. It really was an incredible experience.
Last edited by DML on July 24th 2007, 9:17am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2
Posted January 4th 2007, 2:26pm
I've heard from several reliable sources that NaHa has an excellent catering business as well. So, learning about their carry-out proficiency doesn't surprise me one bit.

All of my experiences at NaHa have been dine-in and they've all been absolutely stand-out. I don't think the place gets nearly as much attention as it warrants. Lunch, dinner, business or pleasure they always do it right. Carrie Nahabedian has been an important force behind Chicago's Green City Market and that sensibility comes through loud and clear -- and deliciously -- on their menu.

=R=
_______________________________________

“I firmly believe that if you love restaurants for the right reasons, they will love you back.” --Steven Shaw (RIP)

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#3
Posted May 31st 2007, 9:21am
I recently had another great meal at NaHa. This was my first meal there since chef John Peters, formerly at Alinea, came on board. Even though this meal took place during a brief period of time when I ate at several higher-end places in town, it stood out and was one of my favorites. As always with NaHa, much of the food was seasonal and local. So much of what appears on NaHa's menu is identified by its source and I have come to really appreciate that over my visits there. Our meal was thoughtfully prepared, delicious and satisfying. Here are a few images I captured. In order to accurately convey the level of detail in each dish, I've transcribed the captions which appear below directly from NaHa's menu . . .


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Platter of Spanish meats (Iberico Salchichon, Salami and Chorizo, Serrano Ham, Catalonian 'Lomo' pork loin) and cheeses (Garrotxa, Valdeon and Montelerraina). Served with Medjool dates, Piquillo and Piparras Basque Peppers, garlic potatoes, green olives and Marcona almonds


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Chesapeake Bay soft shell crab, local Michigan 'Hoop House' tomatoes, 'wild-crafted' watercress and macadamia nut brown butter


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Crisp Calamari, arrabiatta sauce, and saffron aioli


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Kurobuta 'fresh bacon' pork belly, wood-grilled ramps and Anson Mills soft corn polenta, wilted spinach and fava beans.


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Organic carnaroli risotto with spring morels, ramps and dandelion, confit green garlic, reggiano parmesan and Umbrian olive oil.


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Gulf of Maine scallops dusted with citrus, spices and vanilla bean, caramelized Belgian endive, ruby grapefruit, mache and mint


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'Coddled' organic farm egg and wood-grilled Spanish chorizo sausage with a salad of Italian frisee, smoked 'Red Thumb' potatoes, French breakfast radishes, sweet garlic and herbs


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Cannelloni of Jerusalem artichoke, butter poached blue crab, candied Meyer lemon and ' sunchoke' broth


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Braised short ribs of beef, wild boar bacon and cauliflower puree with roasted late-spring root vegetables, Swiss chard and artichokes, smoked 'Manuka' sea salt and herb salad


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Roast 'Brace' of Quail, La Quercia 'Americano' prosciutto and applewood slab bacon with a 'fondant' of acorn squash, Austrian crescent potatoes, little onions and oregano

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New Zealand Barramundi with Provencal ratatouille, glazed fennel bulb, 'babaganoush' and young arugula, 'Riviera' sauce Vierge and French Burgundy snails


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Blossom honey 'lacquered' aged Moulard duck breast with glazed young carrots and turnips, broccoli rabe, Sicilian pistachios, pink peppercorns and port


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Whole roasted ranch squab with a 'tarte tatin' of cipollini onions and caramelized quince, rhubarb puree, crimson raisins and licorice


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NaHa Sundae of vanilla malt ice cream, hickory nut waffle, bananas and bourbon pecan syrup


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Valrhona 'Jivara' milk chocolate panna cotta, coconut sorbet, passionfruit 'curd' and young coconut water

We were very pleased with our meal and the service. It's fun to go to NaHa because it is so seasonally-minded. The ingredients are not only superior in quality but they're often items that are not so easy to find and that makes many of the dishes particularly distinctive. While we were there, I took a look at the lunch menu -- to which chef Peters contributed extensively -- and it looks fantastic. I don't often get down to River North for lunch, since I work in Highland Park but I do have some meetings coming up next month in the city and hope to schedule at least one lunch at NaHa.

I should also mention that we ordered a bevy of desserts but only our 2 favorites are pictured above. There were also 2 negative issues with our meal which, in the grand scheme of things, were relatively minor. First, because we were a party of 6, a gratuity of 18% was automatically added to our bill. While we did leave a little bit extra on top of that, I can say without question, that we would have left a bigger tip had this not been the case. Secondly, we waited almost 20 minutes for the valet after our meal. I know this is not actually handled by the restaurant but it's still worth pointing out, in case anyone reading this is planning to valet park at NaHa. If possible, taking a cab/pub trans or walking to NaHa is probably a better option than driving.

=R=
Last edited by ronnie_suburban on May 31st 2007, 10:42pm, edited 1 time in total.
_______________________________________

“I firmly believe that if you love restaurants for the right reasons, they will love you back.” --Steven Shaw (RIP)

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#4
Posted May 31st 2007, 9:35am
What a great looking meal. Thanks.
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#5
Posted May 31st 2007, 9:40am
JeffB wrote:What a great looking meal. Thanks.


Ditto. Naha has climbed much higher up my "to-do" list as a result of this post. Very nice stuff.

Best,
Michael
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#6
Posted May 31st 2007, 9:57am
Naha has been one of those restaurants that for too long slipped under my radar. However, after having some excellent experiences there recently, it has also moved up towards to the top of my to-go list as well.

Thanks for the excellent report.
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#7
Posted May 31st 2007, 12:33pm
We just relocated to the area from Charlottesville, VA and are just now exploring the local food scene. We ate at NaHa about a week and a half ago and thought it was really good (both food and service), but were disappointed that our proteins were a bit on the overcooked side. I had the squab and Rebecca had the salmon, and while both tasted great, they were both at the upper end of done. Not send-it-back overcooked, but definitely well done. I know people vary on how they like their fish (and poultry), but the salmon was pretty dry and the squab (normally a tolerant bird) was a bit tough and dry as well.

We'll definitely be going back as the flavor combinations and overall experience were great, but it definitely shows how an extra 60 seconds in the pan can taint one's overall dining experience.

Oh, I can't forget to mention the bread. We were served three breads, two of which were astoundingly good. One was turmeric/cumin and the other was golden raisin/whole fennel seed. The waiter told us that they get the bread from Red Hen Bakery, which we now plan to check out as well.


-Dan

edited once to remove details
Last edited by dansch on January 8th 2011, 4:42pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#8
Posted May 31st 2007, 1:33pm
I quite enjoyed my inaugural trip to NAHA a few months back. You're right about the breads...tasty. I didn't know they were Red Hen(I've always...since they were a tiny overhyped storefront in The Armpit... found their products decidedly meh).
_______________________________________

"Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
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#9
Posted May 31st 2007, 5:05pm
You know what, I completely forgot about it when I wrote that post but we did stop by the Red Hen to see if they had that raisin/fennel bread (they didn't have any, but said we could always call 1 day ahead) and ended up getting a scone just to try it. Definitely not my kind of scone. Moist, almost muffin-like. Not the mouth-drying, crumbly puck that I like.

So, maybe they're just awesome at bread and not so hot on pastry and such? Back home in Virginia we used to frequent a few bakeries - one for bread, another for cookies/bars, etc.

-Dan
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#10
Posted June 19th 2007, 10:31pm
I had a very solid meal at Naha tonight, one which included perhaps my favorite dish I've sampled in Chicago this summer. This was, in my mind, a four-star dish in a strong-two, low-three star restaurant.

I dined at the bar and found the restaurant's space quite pleasing. It's not quite a fine-dining dining room but an airy, elegant one. The bar was a bit sparse, but it fit its purpose. Naha didn't win any points with me for its obnoxiously wordy menu, resplendent with even more obnoxious quotes around seemingly random menu items. It's like the restaurant's owners took a page from the Thomas Keller school of menu writing, only worse. Some words, even the occasional letter, are in printed in bold-face font, adding to the visual disaster.

Thankfully, beneath this admittedly superficial shortcoming, the dishes themselves sound amazingly appealing. Here was a restaurant where I had difficulty deciding because of a wealth of appetizing choices and not because everything seemed boring.

I sampled the [pause for a deep breath] "Coddled" Organic Farm Egg and Wood-Grilled Spanish Chorizo Sausage with a Salad of Italian Frisee, Smoked "Red Thumb" Potatoes, "Homegrown Wisconsin" Red Radishes, Sweet Garlic and Herbs. And the Gulf of Maine Sea Scallops dusted with Vanilla Bean, Citrus and Spices, Ruby Grapefruit, Caramelized Belgian Endive, Mache and Peppermint.

That was a lot of punctuation and formatting.

Thankfully it was delicious.

The egg and sausage dish was something I'd come up with but executed very well. A fundamentally simple dish but undeniably delicious. There's not a lot to say other than the fact that I'd order this again.

The scallop dish was truly a highlight. Everyone is all about scallop and citrus these days, but I thought the mint and bittersweet endive really took this dish over the top. If I could make one criticism it would be that it was slightly oversalted, but I've had scallop dishes in the best restaurants in NYC and Michelin three-stars in France that weren't this good. I was extremely pleased.

The dessert menu holds a rather obscene $25 cheese course with eight cheeses. How one is expected to eat eight cheeses after a full meal struck me as a bit strange, so I asked my waiter if the kitchen would do a smaller portion. They kindly complied and allowed me to sample four of the eight cheeses for $12, more than a fair value. The cheeses weren't necessarily at the peak of ripeness or the optimal temperature, but this was much more than a throwaway Whole Foods cheese course. Warm bread, sticky caramel-covered nuts, two jams, and some thin slices of apple accompanied my cheeses, so I was thoroughly satisfied.

Service was a bit perfunctory at the bar, but I don't really have any complaints in that department. I wonder as to the demeanor of the staff in the main dining room, as the service experience could solidify my impressions of the restaurant as being either very good or possibly excellent.

Naha is not cheap, but perhaps the only highish-end restaurant I've eaten at so far that I really want to come back to. The plate of Spanish pig products, more cheese, and a striped bass/pork belly combo are calling to me just a couple hours after my meal.
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#11
Posted June 27th 2007, 11:22pm
I returned to Naha this evening for my second visit in the past couple weeks, this time with a few others. I sat in the dining room for this meal, so I received a more thorough Naha experience. Unfortunately, my experience solidified Naha's place in my mind as a solid two-star restaurant. The service experience and depth of the menu fell short of the restaurant's obvious highs.

First, service leaves one wanting in a restaurant at this price level. Dishes were cleared before all diners were finished, a fellow diner's purse was knocked over at least five times (no exaggeration), water was not refilled in a timely fashion, and the waits between courses were rather lengthy. The back waitstaff also was not familiar with the food. None of these are deal breakers in and of themselves but on the aggregate made for a less than ideal dining experience. Perhaps most egregious to me was the fact that dishes were not brought out at the same time. In some cases we waited about a minute for the fourth diner's dish to be brought to the table and never once did everything arrive at one. At a restaurant of this caliber everything should be served at once, ideally in a synchronized fashion.

Since this was a semi-business dinner I wasn't able to sample freely from my colleagues plates, something I normally do when dining with friends. For myself I had an asparagus canneloni (not as delicate or pretty as pictured above), black bass and pork belly, and the Naha Sundae. We also shared the plate of Spanish pig and cheese products before our appetizers officially came out. It should be noted that all the food was quite good but somewhat one-dimensional. The canneloni was neither not delicate enough to stand alone and therefore needed some kind of base flavor note or richness. The pork and bass dish was much the opposite. It was one-dimensionally heavy with salty, caramelized, smokey, and bitter flavors. None of these were objectionable but the dish needed some lightness or acid to bring it back into balance. The sundae was fundamentally very tasty but perhaps too simple for my tastes--I don't hold this against the restaurant, as I don't expect any more in an ice cream sundae.

I should also note a couple weird timing issues with the kitchen. First, they fired two orders of the scallops when we only ordered one. I'm not complaining that we got an extra order of a $21 appetizer, but it spoke to a lack of organization in the kitchen. A similar thing happened with our mains, when our server informed us that one of the dishes was "not prepared to the chef's satisfaction" and all four were now being refired. I'm not sure if she simply forgot to call for the order the first time around or something actually did go wrong in the kitchen, but it again spoke to roughness around the edges that prevents Naha from being an excellent restaurant.

All in all, a very solid meal, but I must admit I was expecting more based on my one experience at the bar.
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#12
Posted June 27th 2007, 11:44pm
Hmm, sounds like you caught an off night. I've been there several times and had none of the service or kitchen related gaffes you mentioned. Oh well.
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-Josh

I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
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#13
Posted June 27th 2007, 11:55pm
BryanZ wrote:It was one-dimensionally heavy with salty, caramelized, smokey, and bitter flavors. None of these were objectionable but the dish needed some lightness or acid to bring it back into balance.


Having not had the dish, I should probably hold my tongue....but.... That first sentance describes some of my favorite things in a dish. Actually, it sounds like a piece of bacon.... can there ever be enough baconey flavor? I don't think I have ever used the words "pork belly", "light", and "delicious" in the same sentance though, so take what you will. Now I can easily see that such a dish may not be seasonal buy I would consider wearing long underwear in July for a good piece of pork belly. :wink:
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#14
Posted June 28th 2007, 11:01am
I should add that the pork belly part of the dish was very small, just a very small square. I love pork belly more than almost any cut of meat, and I'm not saying the dish was offensive, it was simply too rich, especially considering the fish, and lacked depth. A hint of sweetness, spice, or acid would've certainly elevated the dish.
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#15
Posted July 23rd 2007, 10:44pm
i stopped by naha last friday and had the egg/chorizo salad -- it was wonderful. reminded me of the endive salad at blackbird. i had the chocolate tart for dessert -- also amazing. my entree, the squab, was so-so.

the service was as memorable as the food. my friend, who let's say has minimal fine-dining experience, responded to the waiter's greeting by immediately placing his order. the waiter and i had a small laugh. my friend continued his order by asking for a caesar salad, to which the waiter replied, "this isn't bennigans." the waiter was joking but my friend didn't appreciate the comment. after sensing some hostility from my friend, the waiter brought us two glasses of grenache.

this post is meant to praise naha but also mention an entertaining dining anecdote. i am curious as to how other reader's would have responded though.
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#16
Posted July 23rd 2007, 11:11pm
I had lunch at NAHA last week, and it was really a superior meal, one of the best I've had in the city for what it was.

Rilette of duck confit, with crispy bits of skin, succulent shredded duck...mmm, mmm, mmm.

We split a mezze platter for starters, which even with all the terrific middle Eastern food I've eaten in Chicago, this still stood out as very enjoyable.

Really interesting actually...you know, a lot of times when high-end places try their hand at more humble foods (like the criticisms often levelled at Frontera or Arun's) you think, "Huh, I could have just gone to X (more humble restaurant)." Not so here. The hummus and eggplant were both excellent, and with a unique flavor profile (sorry can't be more specific at this remove). A delicious cucumber salad with good tomatoes and excellent feta. Some thinly sliced, slightly dry basturma....good tomatoes and basturma are the little touches that make it worthwhile ordering this in a high-end place. Really surprisingly satisfying.

And the chocolate tart, wow!, this was a great desert that I didn't really have room for. Served with hazelnuts, homemade ice cream, macerated cherries, grains of paradise (I think)...this was decadent, rich, chocolatey, but perfectly balanced.

I was extremely impressed with this meal, and I'm probably disappointed about 75% of the time I dine at this price point. Excellent service and laid back atmosphere to boot.

Kudos to NAHA.
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#17
Posted July 24th 2007, 7:38am
shakezula wrote:the service was as memorable as the food. my friend, who let's say has minimal fine-dining experience, responded to the waiter's greeting by immediately placing his order. the waiter and i had a small laugh. my friend continued his order by asking for a caesar salad, to which the waiter replied, "this isn't bennigans." the waiter was joking but my friend didn't appreciate the comment. after sensing some hostility from my friend, the waiter brought us two glasses of grenache.

this post is meant to praise naha but also mention an entertaining dining anecdote. i am curious as to how other reader's would have responded though.

Well, since you're asking for responses...I'm trying to imagine the playlet above fitting into the concept of memorably good service, since you were there and I wasn't and you found it so, but there isn't a context or tone of voice in the world that could make me hear "This isn't Bennigans" as anything other than sickeningly condescending. I think I would have encouraged my friend to get up and walk out of the restaurant with me at that moment, and two free glasses of grenache wouldn't have been enough to change my mind.

There had to be a better way for the waiter to react. One might be, "I can certainly take your order now, but you might enjoy lingering a bit over the menu or a cocktail." Or, better yet, how about the waiter just graciously taking the order, uncustomary as that might have been, since that's what your friend wanted? If you found your friend's actions "inappropriate" for the setting, you could have suggested he delay ordering. I think the waiter should have either allowed that suggestion to come from you, or, in the absence of any such suggestion from you (an absence which would have indicated that you supported your friend's wish to order), the waiter should have just taken the order, hold the humiliation.
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#18
Posted July 24th 2007, 8:44am
I have to agree with Riddlemay.

I am a huge fan of Naha (I started this thread after all) but if a waiter had done that, there is no question that I would have walked out. You don't insult my guests.

Edited to add: What the waiter should have done: Looked at what the person ordered to see if it made sense as a meal. The waiter should know that certain courses just won't work together. If the choices seemed coherent, take the order and hold it. Come back at the appropriate time for the rest of the table. If the early ordering guest changed his mind, the change could be made. No harm, no foul. Work with the guests. Treat them like they belong.

On a somewhat related note: My wife and I had dinner at Les Nomades "on the eve of the Millenium." We were probably the youngest people there that night. Marybeth Liccioni came over to our table a few times to offer us pointers about the food (and in at least one instance, how to eat it). Her advice except for the one instance, wasn't really necessary, but she offered it in such a kind manner that it came off as sweet or thoughful rather than condescending. The food that night was as good as it gets, and her attention to our table was charming. She made the comments with the genuine attention of helping us enjoy our meal. That is the way it should be done. What a way to start a millenium.
Last edited by DML on July 24th 2007, 11:36am, edited 2 times in total.
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#19
Posted July 24th 2007, 9:09am
I'm really happy to see this post high in the forum. It's for the longest time been almost overlooked by everyone but fellow chefs and some media. I was amazed by a pork chop a few years ago and if I had more moolah would make it my go-to place.
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#20
Posted July 24th 2007, 9:15am
I've posted on NAHA and certainly enjoyed my last meal barring a couple missteps.

as per "This isn't Bennigans"

an anecdote:

ca. '94 I was visiting friends in Hotlanta and they took me to a burrito palace of some renown...

now, one of our party has some noted social eccentricities which arose during the ordering process in which you queue up in a long line and supposedly peruse the giant blackboard menus hung above the open kitchen while you wait to place an order...

my friend gets up to the register and proceeds to hem n haw over "can I get this with this and substitute this and yadda yadda yadda..."

having had enough, the cashier in an amusingly-petulant, drawn-out, Southern, gay drawl dismissed him from the line with, "this aiiiiiiiiiin't Taco Bell, honey."

that dismissal's become shorthand for dining out in certain situations
_______________________________________

"Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
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#21
Posted July 24th 2007, 11:05am
shakezula wrote:the waiter was joking but my friend didn't appreciate the comment. after sensing some hostility from my friend, the waiter brought us two glasses of grenache.


Grenache? Why not white zin?

IMO the waiter was way out of line. This is an expense account place, your friend could have been a client.

There was a conference in town once, and I invited an important client to Spiaggia. The client was a buyer for a large city in California, and was at the conference with about 10 of his staff . The client very politely asked if his fellow employees could come with, since they'd rarely have a chance to eat at such a nice restaurant. I said sure, with the amount of money we were making on this account I would have treated 100 of them.

Anyway, some of these folks weren't the most sophisticated diners by any means. Their requests for things like steaks and cokes weren't greeted with smirks or Bennigan cracks or rolling of the eyes from the service staff - quite the contrary, they were treated with the utmost respect and graciousness. Everyone had a great time, and I left a massive tip in appreciation for the way the staff read the situation and their professionalism.

The last thing I need when I'm entertaining is a smartass waiter embarassing a client.
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#22
Posted July 24th 2007, 11:10am
shakezula wrote:the waiter was joking but my friend didn't appreciate the comment. after sensing some hostility from my friend, the waiter brought us two glasses of grenache.


My guess is that, by offering two glasses of wine on the house, the waiter probably later realized his misstep and was attempting to atone. We're all human. Perhaps his comment was an isolated incident blurted out in a moment of frustration, stress or even as a poor attempt as a joke. Whatever. Hopefully server learned to be less boorish, and friend learned that not all restaurants are like Bennigan's. :)
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#23
Posted July 24th 2007, 11:25am
shakezula wrote:i am curious as to how other reader's would have responded though.

I hate to say it because I too am a fan of NaHa but this was totally inappropriate. As was posted above, the server could have been insulting a customer or loved one of yours.

Since you asked, what I would have done was speak to a manager about it before I left the restaurant that night. Regardless of the 'make good' the server provided, I doubt very seriously that such comments are sanctioned or encouraged by management. My guess is that they'd be aghast if they knew it happened. Perhaps this was just a 'one time' gaffe by the server but it also may speak to a lack of FOH training. As such, I believe that notifying management about the incident would be the very best response to it. And of course, the best way to make sure it doesn't happen again is to let someone at the restaurant know about it. Posting here is certainly appropriate but, I believe, should be the step you take after you notify management about the incident and receive their response.

=R=
_______________________________________

“I firmly believe that if you love restaurants for the right reasons, they will love you back.” --Steven Shaw (RIP)

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#24
Posted March 2nd 2008, 10:33pm
Visited NAHA during Restaurant Week. Some thoughts:

One of the best dining experiences I've had in a long time. All three of us sampled the Restaurant Week menu rather than going a la carte. The meal:

Two of us had the squash soup with hickory nuts and maple syrup. Nice combination of textures with the creamy soup and some crunch from the nuts, vaguely sweet but with some woodsiness as well. Third member of our party had cured trout w/ door county caviar and "mosaic of nicoise garnishes." I was hoping for a taste but didn't get one. The plate was truly wiped clean, but I have no other info about it.

Entrees sampled were "whitefish with a warm salad of hoop house spinach, wood-grilled bermuda onions, roasted turnips, chervil and red wine lobster sauce"; and "quail with a fondue of Anson Mills soft corn polenta, North Country slab bacon, cavolo nero greens, confit garlic, cured tomatoes and tarragon."

Whitefish was cooked perfectly, spinach was the most flavorful I've had in a LONG time, and the sauce was exquisite. I would have appreciated a bit more mushroom and turnip, though; I didn't really feel they were integrated well into the dish. Greens in the quail dish were also pronounced to be wonderful, and the bones were picked absolutely clean.

Desserts were a pineapple tart with almond and coconut, and a dark chocolate cake with black forest ice cream and pinot noir. The dark chocolate cake was very nice but not transcendent, though the pinor noir and the black forest ice cream were brilliant. The pineapple tart was more strongly coconut than pineapple, and was very much enjoyed.

Two of us sampled wines: I had the house Au Bon Climat pinot noir as well, which was perfectly medium-bodied and balanced. Mom had a glass of zin, don't remember which one, but one that elicited a response of "this is exactly why I enjoy zinfandel."

Service was friendly and present, but not overbearing. Everything had a vaguely "woodsy" characteristic to it, including the room, but it worked better than one would expect given such a descriptor. I will be finding an excuse to go back and drop the big bucks on a full meal.
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#25
Posted June 8th 2008, 11:00pm
A big congrats to Chef Nahabedian -- and the entire NaHa family -- on her big win tonight, capturing the 2008 Beard award for Best Chef Great Lakes . . .

Nahabedian, in a post-award interview, told [Chicago Tribune's Stevenson] Swanson she was convinced that she wasn't going to win this year, the third straight year Nahabedian and her River North restaurant, Naha, have been nominated. "Chicago is such a powerhouse that I thought the award would go to someone in another city this year," she told Swanson.

Grant Achatz wins top Beard honor, Outstanding Chef; Nahabedian grabs Best Chef: Great Lakes

=R=
_______________________________________

“I firmly believe that if you love restaurants for the right reasons, they will love you back.” --Steven Shaw (RIP)

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#26
Posted June 13th 2008, 8:49am
So last night we ate at Naha. Why on earth this place got an award at all is so far beyond me. The service was laughably bad and the food was just ok. We got there at about 8:30 or so without a reservation but the dining room was only about 1/2-3/4 full. We asked if there was room for us and they said absolutely. We sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually our server dropped the menu and took our drink orders, which nicely enough were returned with lightning speed. OK, looks like it's going to be ok, or is it....?

Then we waited...and waited....and waited... to place our orders. OK, as an aside, I know we had a conversation about using quotation marks on a menu in a forum down below, but Naha is completely insane. We counted two dishes that didn't use quotes in their descriptions. Listen, if you're going to call it "Korobuta" pork then I'm going to assume you aren't really using Korobuta pork, especially when your waiter is completely flippant about it when I ask.

Fine, we get our orders taken, two appetizers... and then we wait. With an empty glass in front of me we wait...and wait, and finally I've had enough and I flag down a waiter and ask to see the manager. Our food is finally dropped right as the manager comes by- at this point I was ready to send our food back and walk out. The manager made no apologies for the wait on the food and told us that the chef was unhappy with our food and it had to be remade, that's why the wait was so long. First, I call complete and utter bullshit on this- one of the appetizers was soup and the other was a pretty simple gnocci. Also, my gnocci came out luke warm- so if this is the best they can do this is terrible. I mentioned to the manager that if that was the case then someone should have told us so we weren't sitting there with empty drinks just waiting.

So what would have been the obvious reaction to this from any decently trained manager? Apologize and either take a drink order yourself or send a waiter over right away to take another drink order, or even better yet, send something over to the table. Nope, gotta wait another 20 minutes or so to see a waiter. The next waiter comes over, asks how things were and laughs about how it took so long to get our appetizers. A laugh? Really? We just talked to the manager, do you think we find this really amusing?

We finish our apps and wait...and wait...and wait and I flag down the waiter again and ask him to drop the check. He does so with our second set of apps which were just ok. Again, my food was served luke warm.

I left a 10% tip (something I NEVER do) and walked out. The manager caught my eye as we were walking out and couldn't be bothered to get up from his glass of wine at a table to apologize.

This restaurant should be completely and utterly ashamed of itself, it's staff and management. Maybe they are already resting on their laurels from their award. In any event, this should be avoided at all costs.
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is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
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#27
Posted June 13th 2008, 8:56am
jpschust wrote:This restaurant should be completely and utterly ashamed of itself, it's staff and management. Maybe they are already resting on their laurels from their award. In any event, this should be avoided at all costs.

So, how were the portions?

Attribution to Jeff B
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#28
Posted June 13th 2008, 9:01am
G Wiv wrote:
jpschust wrote:This restaurant should be completely and utterly ashamed of itself, it's staff and management. Maybe they are already resting on their laurels from their award. In any event, this should be avoided at all costs.

So, how were the portions?

Attribution to Jeff B
Now that's funny!
_______________________________________

is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
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#29
Posted June 13th 2008, 9:31am
jpschust wrote:So last night we ate at Naha. Why on earth this place got an award at all is so far beyond me. The service was laughably bad and the food was just ok. We got there at about 8:30 or so without a reservation but the dining room was only about 1/2-3/4 full. We asked if there was room for us and they said absolutely. We sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually our server dropped the menu and took our drink orders, which nicely enough were returned with lightning speed. OK, looks like it's going to be ok, or is it....?

Then we waited...and waited....and waited... to place our orders. OK, as an aside, I know we had a conversation about using quotation marks on a menu in a forum down below, but Naha is completely insane. We counted two dishes that didn't use quotes in their descriptions. Listen, if you're going to call it "Korobuta" pork then I'm going to assume you aren't really using Korobuta pork, especially when your waiter is completely flippant about it when I ask.

Fine, we get our orders taken, two appetizers... and then we wait. With an empty glass in front of me we wait...and wait, and finally I've had enough and I flag down a waiter and ask to see the manager. Our food is finally dropped right as the manager comes by- at this point I was ready to send our food back and walk out. The manager made no apologies for the wait on the food and told us that the chef was unhappy with our food and it had to be remade, that's why the wait was so long. First, I call complete and utter bullshit on this- one of the appetizers was soup and the other was a pretty simple gnocci. Also, my gnocci came out luke warm- so if this is the best they can do this is terrible. I mentioned to the manager that if that was the case then someone should have told us so we weren't sitting there with empty drinks just waiting.

So what would have been the obvious reaction to this from any decently trained manager? Apologize and either take a drink order yourself or send a waiter over right away to take another drink order, or even better yet, send something over to the table. Nope, gotta wait another 20 minutes or so to see a waiter. The next waiter comes over, asks how things were and laughs about how it took so long to get our appetizers. A laugh? Really? We just talked to the manager, do you think we find this really amusing?

We finish our apps and wait...and wait...and wait and I flag down the waiter again and ask him to drop the check. He does so with our second set of apps which were just ok. Again, my food was served luke warm.

I left a 10% tip (something I NEVER do) and walked out. The manager caught my eye as we were walking out and couldn't be bothered to get up from his glass of wine at a table to apologize.

This restaurant should be completely and utterly ashamed of itself, it's staff and management. Maybe they are already resting on their laurels from their award. In any event, this should be avoided at all costs.

It's a shame about your experience there, because it really is a great restaurant and I doubt they are resting on their laurels. I just had a great meal there a few weeks ago. Regardless, that does not excuse the poor service you received. I think everyone has had incidents like that -- even at fine restaurants (I know I have) -- and as a result we won't return to such places. But maybe that's our loss if these are very rare and atypical experiences at the restaurant. I would write them and let them know . . . give them the chance to make it up to you.

As for your complaint about their use of quotes with Kurobuta pork, I think you're being a bit too picky. Naha is in fact one of those restaurants that goes crazy with quotation marks, and yes, they often use them incorrectly (reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Elaine and the exclamation points). But fault their use of punctuation on the menu, and not their cooking (except for perhaps this one very bad evening for you). But I'd be shocked if they are not really using Kurobuta pork.
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#30
Posted June 13th 2008, 9:35am
I don't think the punctuation thing is picky. Kurobota means Kurobota. "Kurobota" means definitely NOT Kurobota. I would never take it to mean "We really, really mean Kurobota."

"The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." --Mark Twain
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