Puccini's La Dolce Vita

Puccini's La Dolce Vita is Bloomington's fancypants Italian restaurant. I've been there 2-3 times and have never been super impressed. This time the food was good, but it wasn't excellent. And from this type of restaurant (and their prices) I expect better. When Christine and I went in to get seated they asked us whether we wanted Italian or Ethiopian food. This was confusing. Apparently half of the restaurant is now Ethiopian? Are they owned by the same people? Is Puccini's doing so badly that they had to rent out half of the resaurant? I don't know. But it's weird.

The ambiance is certainly nice. We ate outside on the patio, which is lovely on a nice evening. The restaurant also has a reputation for very formal, attentive service. We didn't get that either. The service wasn't bad by any means but it also wasn't much different than the service you'd get at somewhere like Olive Garden.


Upland Brewing Co.

Upland Brewing Company is a great local restaurant that serves a variety of pub food as well as some really creative entrees. They also make really fantastic beers on site. My favorite by far is the Wheat, it's basically perfect. Spicy and citrusy, they serve it with orange wedges which are delicious after they've been soaking in your glass of beer for half an hour. If you're into hops, you'll love the Dragonfly Pale Ale. It's too bitter and floral for me. I also like the Amber and if you like thicker, heartier beers, the Bad Elmer's Porter is good. Upland has a really nice patio, which is usually packed on weekends. Inside it can get really loud and seating can be kind of uncomfortable because a lot of the tables are very close together. Who likes to sit in the middle of a giant, loud, room feeling all exposed? But the food is good and the beer is even better, so it is usually worth it.


Casa Brava

If you're looking for Mexican food in Bloomington the Casa Brava/La Charreada mini-chain is the way to go. They have three locations; Casa Brava on the West Side, La Charreada on North Walnut, and the brand new Casa Brava on the East Side. There are also locations in Bedford and Indianapolis. The menus are roughly the same at all three Bloomington restaurants. Aand it is huge, like 8 pages. They have tons of varieties of Enchiladas, Burritos, Chimichangas, Fajitas and pretty much any other Mexican specialty you can think of. There is also a large selection of combination platters and a la carte items.


Finch's Brasserie

Finch's Brasserie recently replaced Trulli Flatbread on Kirkwood, reopening with a new name, owner and chef. I only went to Trulli once, and it was pretty good not super special. Christine, Ginny, and I shared a flatbread (fancypants pizza) with roasted asparagus, leeks, and mushrooms. We ate outside on the patio which is quite nice and great for people watching. Finch's keeps the patio as well as the extensive beer and wine selection and the flatbreads, now called pizzettas. The inside is nice, contemporary but with lots of warm woods and rich paint colors. Prices are pretty flexible, you can get away without spending too much by ordering the pizzettas or pastas. The entree prices are pretty reasonable as well, ranging from around $13 to $30. If you're familiar with Bloomington restaurants, I'd say prices are more than Uptown but less than Farm.


Chicago : Tsunami

Mariann introduced us to Tsunami last spring when we were in town to see Arcade Fire. The sushi was delicious that first time and has been equally satisfying on the several occasions we've visited since. Tsunami is a fairly swanky spot in the Gold Coast area of Chicago. It's much larger than it appears, with back rooms and seating on the 2nd floor. They also have a nice patio with doors opening to the main dining room. It is a bit pricey, but in line with other Japanese restaurants of similar caliber. Tsunami has a nice selection of vegetarian and seafood rolls as well as a full menu of other Japanese specialties. The reviews on Yelp are rather mixed, but I definitely recommend it if you are looking for sushi in Chicago.

There were five of us so we ordered a bunch of rolls to share. The best thing about ordering sushi in bulk is that they bring it out on a big boat!

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