About Fine

Photo by Kathryn Rolfes

Harlene Ellin is not just another food fanatic sitting around in her flannel jammies cutting and pasting together stories about interior design, restaurants and wine on her home computer. Admittedly, you may find her clad in pajamas, typing away in her suburban Chicago home. But that’s after she’s researched and visited the establishments showcased in Fine, eaten and eaten and eaten the food on their menus, quaffed their wines — or perhaps beers and spirits — and, very importantly, interviewed the key players who inspire these finely designed restaurants, which also serve fine food and fine wine.

Harlene is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in major publications such as Time, the Chicago Tribune and i4design magazine. She is also a working interior designer, food aficionado and zealous — sometimes overzealous — wine drinker. And Harlene is a full-time mom, sometime recreational roller derby girl (skating under the name Hellin Wheels) and a member of the writing/performance group Creative Differences.

Since childhood, Harlene has been fascinated with restaurant dining. Even then, she was impressed with the faux Cantonese décor — as well as the pressed duck — at the Pekin House, her parents’ favorite dining establishment. She has spent virtually her entire life seeking out, eating in, and recommending restaurants with notable design and delicious food.

In January 2011, Harlene launched Fine because she believes there are many others out there who love, love, love the intimate details of restaurant dining.

Are you dying to know how a dish called “pig face” got on the menu? Are you intensely curious to discover why there are gigantic, wildly painted orbs hanging from the dining room ceiling? Couldn’t you really use a lesson on what wine to pair with goat? Harlene will explore these questions and many more. So sit back — perhaps with a nice old-vine Zin in hand — and have a fine time exploring Fine.

And now for the legal mumbo jumbo. Although Fine is not technically a restaurant review site, Harlene pays for all of her own meals unless otherwise noted. Indeed, she will not argue with the house if they give her a complimentary plate of sautéed green beans or a glass of Primitivo, as that would be rude. But otherwise, this lady pays her own way.

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