The pre-registration deadline for the former is approaching, and Mike Titelbaum (Wisconsin) points out to me that, although coming to Chicago in February may seem an odd choice to make, the APA will coincide that weekend with the start of Chicago's restaurant week. Blackbird, Cafe Spiaggo, The Gage, Japonais, and Topolobampo are all very good indeed, and Atwood Cafe is a nice choice for lunch. (Topolobampo can be impossibly hard to get a reservation at.) Good but not great Italian restaurants are Tuscany on Taylor (Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood) and Osterio.
Many readers were kind enough to offer tips about dining before our trip earlier this month, so permit me to offer some recommendations of my own, now that the trip is done.
In Amsterdam: the Convent Hotel is very nice (four stars), and has some fabulous deals (we got a room for two for under 90 Euros a night--booked it on-line--it's part of the Accor group of hotels). Rooms were small, but well-appointed and comfortable. Great location too, within walking distance of Central Station, Chinatown, the Anne Frank House, and even the Red Light district. The Van Gogh museum is very well-done, organized chronologically with informative written material to accompany the paintings. We only had one dinner in Amsterdam, and enjoyed it at Nam Kee in Chinatown.
In the Hague: the Hilton was fabulous, and I imagine rather pricey (the conference host was paying). And just across the way (on Noordeinde) are some very good restaurants: Bojangles (Spanish) and Maharani (Indian) were the two we enjoyed. The Escher Museum is fun, and nice for kids too. And, yes, one must go to Madurodam, the "miniature" Netherlands. Amusingly weird!
Business sense like this is probably hard to teach: Ms. Travis owns the McDonald's here in Hyde Park/Kenwood (52nd and Lake Park, for locals), where last week a member of my family purchased a Big Mac, consumed it, and then became violently ill for hours afterwards (obviously food poisoning). We complained to McDonald's. Ms. Travis, in response, offered to give us a free Big Mac. Seriously.
We'll see her in court, though if her legal sense is as good as her business sense, this will not be a protracted litigation.
...but the arrival of a decent sushi place (not great, but good enough that one would gladly go back) can not pass unnoted and without a sense of gratitude. Not as fancy (or pricey either) as our two legit high-end restaurants here (Park52 [also relatively new, and good] and La Petite Folie), but a nice alternative to pizza and Harold's chicken. Now if only a decent Chinese restaurant would appear....
The readership has been generous in the past with restaurant advice, and I plan to offer some here on a more regular basis, starting with this self-proclaimed Catalan tapas place. Having been several times to the Catalan region (Barcelona, Girona, various towns on the Costa Brava), I must admit to being a huge fan of the cuisine in this region. If I ate nothing else for the rest of my life, I'd be "wretchedly content" (as Nietzsche would say). Mercat is a very pale imitation of the original. Their steak and their garlic shrimp are quite good, everything else is middling--sometimes due to ingredients, sometimes to preparation. To make matters worse, the prices are out of sight (the prices on the present website are out of date). How outrageous they are isn't apparent until you see the portions. I never imagined fuet could be cut so thin. On the plus side, the service was attentive and efficient.
If you're desperate for tapas, and on an expense account, this is a reasonable bet. Otherwise....
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)