Nemo’s Nibbles, A New Feature

December 6, 2006 |

We’re proud to welcome Nemo Lacessit, a Chicago boulevardier and bon vivant. Nemo will periodically review notable New York, London and Chicago restaurants for the edification of DailySpec readers.

My Credo: Food and restaurants have nothing in common; if you’re looking for one you won’t find it with the other. If you seek food as sustenance you have no business in a restaurant — go to the grocery story, fast food joint, buy something and eat it. The language of restaurants can be used to accentuate life. Among many things restaurants can be sensual, strict, joyous, pragmatic, irreverent, as well as conformist. They can provide a source of importance escapism and giving us pause from our daily life. My attempt here is not to review restaurants in the neo-classical way but to leave the reader with the theme of the establishment against the backdrop of its cuisine.

DeLaCosta (312-464-1700) 465 E. Illinois Street, Chicago

If one were lucky enough to date a Brazilian supermodel the first dinner would have to be here. Chef Douglas Rodriguez (who neither knows me nor I him, but I decided to drop his name in a vain attempt to gain gastric legitimacy) must have a “sexiness ratio” for waitresses as part of his business plan. The 12,000 sq. ft., three-sectioned rectangle consists of two ceviche bars, a solarium and private cabanas (each with its own bar and bartender). The idea is Vegas plus Miami lounge with a restaurant sprinkled in the middle; all set on Brazilian tigerwood flooring with marble/glass separations. A little like Ian Schrager meets Giselle Bundchen on their way to Victoria’s Secrets.

Cocktails are irreverent by design: mojitos, sangrias and martinis are the staples, followed by variations on the same themes. On the higher end are various champagnes and pinots that have made their way to “Latin fusion” restaurants everywhere. Again I revert to the Brazilian supermodel’s basic needs: fruity expensive liquor, small portions of “unique” foods, and sexy ambiance. The food is mostly tapas-like and ceviche, with more substantial fish plates (oil poached halibut and adobo rubbed tuna) as well some meat dishes found in the southern provinces of Brazil/Argentina.

If you had a bad day, DeLaCosta is where you want to be afterwards. In town, but wanting to get away from Chicago’s meat & potatoes centric fare, this will give your palate a change. For business types, leave the ties behind and have a caipirinha and a mojito, smile at the waitress (yes, they smile back!) and don’t spoil the mood by talking about whatever it is you think you do. This is not the best business/power dinner spot in town. You can eat a full meal at this restaurant but what’s the point? You are really there for the ambiance. And what a wonderful one it is.





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