My first taste of Armenian food... and it's on a completely different continent. But it was great. Armenian food has a lot of Turkish influences, which is a good thing, and a little bit of Russian, which is not such a good thing. The result for Sayat Nova is an excellent mix of lightly flavoured dishes, and a few heavy meat dishes for the big eating carnivores. The food was of a very high quality, and there was even real Armenian beer to swill it down with.
The restaurant is dark and cozy, and the prices are very good. It's convenient for shoppers on the Magnificent Mile, but far enough away to avoid dragging in too many the idiot tourists, like me. It's also conveniently near the City Centre Hotel where I stayed, making it the perfect choice for the first jetlagged night in the city.
We had a small VT get together at Sayat Nova on a chilly Wednesday evening. We picked Wednesday because it was supposed to be hookah night but besides us there was only one occupied table and no mention was ever made of the hookahs.
For such a dead night, I thought the server didn't really have much personality
Favorite Dish: Armenian food is similar to several other cuisines such as Turkish, Croatian or Greek, different dishes reminded each of us of things we had tried at other ethnic restaurants. Although I prefer Chicago's Turkish and Greek restaurants to this one, if you are in the tourist area, this is an OK alternative.
We started off with a couple of appetizers, the cheese puffs in phyllo dough with green onions were good but the portion size is very small (one puff per order).
I ordered a kebab combo, the sausage was good, the chicken and beef lacked pizzaz. Other members of the group seemed happier with their choices.
We all ordered dessert, I tried a milk custard with a honey nut sauce, the custard didn't have much flavor but the honey and nuts made the dish
Note:Katja took the photo of the four other VT members
This is the first time that I have gone to a VT dinner that I am not able to "rave" about the food. On a cold Wednesday night in January, we met at the Sayat Nova, an Armenian restaurant in the heart of the Magnificent mile.
I brought my daughter Jill (Jillzi) to her first VT dinner/meeting, and wouldn't you know it, the food was not incredible as most critiques had said it would be. Erik (Erik707), Kristi (Dabs), Katja (Pedersdottir), my Jill (Jillzi), and Dee (deecat) came out on this winter night for some food and conversation.
It's an interesting place located just steps from Michigan Avenue in a small building behind the GAP at Ohio. It's been here since the 1970s! The decor is unusual with a row of semicircular alcoves along one wall. They are not large booths but will probably seat four, but two would be more comfortable.
We sat at a table. There's a dark wood bar and lounge-like area toward the front of the restaurant.
We were not impressed with the service. The young man who waited on us was somewhat curt in his replies and attitude.
My food was probably the best, but Kristi's was not good, and Erik's dish did not look too appetizing to me. Jill's food was average, and Katja did not comment about hers.
Favorite Dish: The Sayat Nova specializes in East Armenian cuisine or a slightly earthier variation on Mediterranean.
I enjoyed myTaboule, a light salad of diced tomatoes, green onions, cracked wheat and parsley with fresh lemon and olive oil. I practically "licked my plate"! My main dish was really an appetizer of Plaki, which is great northern beans and sauteed onions that are slowly simmered in a light tomato and olive oil sauce. It was good but not fantastic.
We ordered desserts that were rather mundane, and I have little or no recollection of what they were, but I remember that none of us were impressed.
I just hope that this was an off night for this restaurant because all the reviews that I had read were quite positive.
Sayat Nova. Ever had Armenian food? I hadn't either, until I tried this place. I was wonderfully surprised--it's fabulous, filling food served in a small, romantic restaurant just off Michigan Avenue. If your taste buds want a charge, come here! Not too expensive (lunch entree is around $8), and generous portions. Plenty of vegetarian options, which are marked on the menu.
The cutest little alcove dining tables cut into the walls. It's not a very big place, so I'd recommend reservations for dinner if you're going on a weekend. Not needed for weekday lunchtime. The atmosphere is subdued and elegant, but there's no dress code.
Favorite Dish: Dessert! :) Especially the paklava (with either pistachios or walnuts, both great). The spinach and cheese boereg is fantastic, too. And if you're into VERY strong coffee, try their Armenian brew. Unlike any other coffee I've had--It'll give you quite a buzz!
See my other Sayat Nova tip for a description of the food and atmosphere. Here's the picture of the outside so you can find it, since it's easy to miss!