Thursday, September 13, 2007

Carnivale in Chicago's West Loop

Drove down to downtown Chicago last night to try this much talked-about restaurant and bar. The west loop of Chicago is slowly gentrifying and apartments are being built and occupied, but given that it is primarily a business area, it was eerily quiet when we were driving through around 8 pm.

As soon as we approached 'Carnivale' , that sense was quashed immediately. And this was a Wednesday night! A mini-crowd of diners and valets were scurrying around a lot of cars. Valet parking is only $5 by the way. Strains of latin music could be heard while we were outside. Carnivale has live music on Wednesdays, and when you enter, you pass through the bar and the music area before being ushered into the main dining room. We ordered a rasberry mojito and a martini.

The dining room is the highlight of Carnivale. A high ceiling with humongous red and yellow lamp shades and a multicolored tile accent dominate. Walls are painted with similar warm colors, and the place absolutely buzzes. The live music from across the bar was hopping. We even had two carnival-style dancers jiggle their firmly toned bits all over the room at one point.

I strongly recommend you to come here with a group of friends or co-workers who love to have a good time. The food is pretty and tasty. My entree of the exotic barramundi fish which you see above (from Australia) was firm and nicely flavored. I loved my dessert of the goat's cheese ice-cream.

What was slightly disappointing, however, were the drinks. My raspberry mojito seemed overpowered with the fruit. The simple mojito also lacked the personality that one would expect from a well-made mojito. It was too dilute and uninteresting.

All in all, a superb place for celebrations. Its proximity to the highway (I90/94) makes it very accessible from the suburbs. Great for latin dancing and dining, but don't expect to be bowled over by the drinks. Here's Abhijit enjoying his Arctic Char.

Carnivale, Chicago.

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