I decided to take my wife out for a “special” dinner at Allgauer’s (On the Riverfront) the Wednesday before New Year’s Eve. In the spirit of Full Discloser: 1) I hadn’t been to this restaurant in years. My wife had never been there, before our dinner; 2) My Motivation: a $20 coupon for a free entrée, and many good memories.
For those of you who don’t know, Allgauer’s has been around for 35-plus years. It used to be quite the restaurant, long before Hilton took over i.e., it was a North Shore destination, known for its great food, outstanding service and lovely dining room. You could make a good argument that for a romantic dinner or a special occasion, Allgauer’s (just “Allgauer’s,” long before “On the Riverfront”) was one of the better restaurants in the Chicago area.
Fast forward to last Wednesday evening: We had a 7:30 dinner reservation. As I expected, there was plenty of seating in the dining room, given the day and the usual lull between Christmas and New Year’s. The hostess took us to a very nice window table, with a view of the wooded “river” grounds, nicely manicured with holiday lights and
ice sculptures. Very nice beginning.
An attentive waiter, Artiro, took our drink order, and we spent a few minutes enjoying our drinks, and some warm roles, while examining the menu.
Now for “The Results:”
My wife had the Baked French Onion Soup. It was good, but a bit on the salty side.
I started with the Classic Caesar Salad. It was very good. (Although, I did note that the waiter did not offer fresh, ground pepper to either of us.)
My wife ordered the Asian Seared Tuna. It was OK. Nothing all that special. We’ve had better tuna prepared at home. The same for her wasabi mashed potatoes and the scatter of Brussels sprouts and green beans.
I had the Sautéed Duck Breast & Leg Confit with Sweet Mashed Potatoes & Blackberry Demi Glace. Before placing the order, I did ask the waiter if the duck leg was prepared crispy. He said yes. It wasn’t. But that was not the real problem: The sautéed duck was not properly done; it was on the rare side of done. My wife had a taste. She said to send it back. Well, I’m not one to send anything back, unless it’s completely not edible. She said it was not. I have a stronger stomach, so I ate it! Along with the potatoes – nothing special – and my own scatter of Brussels sprouts.
We told the waiter about the duck. He apologized and brought us a couple glasses of wine on the house. He was very understanding, and did a nice job of listening and making the best out of a bad food experience.
Allgauer's is still a lovely place. It has been well-maintained and still has some of that "old special feel" to it. However, dining out is, and will always be, about the food. And when it comes to the food, if our experience is a good indication of what you might expect from Allgauer’s kitchen these days, don’t expect too much. Don’t expect anything special. Don’t expect a real fine dining experience.
We won’t be back to Allgauer’s again, until Hilton management corrects what’s wrong in the kitchen, and can deliver on a menu that brings back what used to be a first-class dining experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC