My wife and I met friends for dinner in RL on a Friday night. The experience was impressive. The place is on Chicago Avenue just west of Michigan Avenue -- the Magnificent Mile -- so you can imagine how crowded the area was at the start of a weekend. Fortunately, there was valet parking. Starting with the valet, everyone -- the maitres 'd, our waiters, the bus -- greeted us with warm smiles as though we were frequent diners there but this was only our second visit. The dining area itself was upscale with interesting pictures on the walls. We could converse in moderate voices though every table was occupied. The other diners impressed me too: diverse Gen X and Gen Y, well-dressed and well-mannered. Items on the menu appear to have been selected to please Chicagoan appetites: no unique combinations and every item explained. For starters my wife had Lobster bisque and I had New England clam chowder, somewhat different from other versions of this soup and interestingly, it harbored a clam in a shell. At the recommendation of our host we ordered lake perch as our entrees. The perch were prepared in Japanese panko the way we like them. Plentiful and wonderful. Though our host recommended the key lime pie for dessert, I chose the crepes suzette which were so good I shared some with my wife. As we left my wife commented we'd been dining for two-and-a-half hours but that's the kind of place RL is. There's also outdoor dining -- every table was filled there too -- and I wondered why anyone would want to dine on a Chicago Avenue sidewalk with all the cars, busses and trucks and commotion but she reminded me that's the way Parisians dine too.
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