Food is powerful. It has the ability to turn strangers into friends. My world revolves around food. I love trying the newest restaurants in the city and baking cakes in my own kitchen. I have an adventurous palate and will try anything once. I write a food blog called Caviar & Cookies. I grew up in a restaurant and love all aspects of the business. www.CaviarandCookies.com
The beauty of the restaurant is displayed through the decor and continues with the food. Each plate is presented with artistry. We begin our meal with a house favorite and server recommended, Pickle Tots. The dish combines two favorite bar foods in a balanced and tasteful manner. The tots are placed on top of a red onion yogurt which adds a pop of color. On top of the tots is chicken breast bresaola. The dish was a great introduction to our meal which is meant to be shared. We each tried different alcoholic beverages to compliment our meals. The restaurant offers specialty cocktails, beers and an exclusive wine list. Props on the wide variety of wines offered by the glass especially the sparkling red! It’s nice to have such a good variety. Our next dish was the Brandade. It’s a salt cod and potato patty topped with a quail egg. Pieces of Asian pear surround the patty which was accented with a light sauce. The Fried Chopped Liver was equally enjoyable. Now the idea of fried chopped liver may not sound very appetizing, but the presentation masks the nature of the dish without losing any flavor. The diced liver pieces were deep fried into bite size portions. It was served with an egg yolk jam, apple and my favorite-kohlrabi; this added a refreshing crunch to the bite. Props on using an overlooked vegetable. Our server recommended two entrees which we tried. The Milk Braised Pork Shoulder was served in large pieces. The outside skin was crisp while the meat was tender- absolute perfection. It was served with brown butter spaghetti squash. For a lighter fish dish, we tried the Hake. Wow. The piquillo pepper broth was poured at table side and gave off the most pleasant aroma. It was light and zesty. The fish was perfectly cooked and served with leeks and hazelnuts. To finish our meal, we ordered the Cider Donuts. The donuts were served with pumpkin seed brittle and ice cream. The presentation for this dish was quite amusing as there were two donuts and a long scoop of ice cream. Food porn anyone? After a quick giggle, we dove into the dessert and within seconds it had disappeared. The donuts capture the comforting tastes of Fall.
pickle tots, fried chopped liver, milk praised pork shoulder, hake
Restaurant: EL Ideas
Tucked away on the corner of absolutely nowhere and the ghetto is a restaurant where imagination has no limitations and rules are meant to be broken. The dead end road leads to an eclectic space with exposed brick, cork drapes and an open kitchen. The 18-seat restaurant creates a unique experience where every table is essentially a chef's table. Welcome to EL Ideas where guests are encouraged to walk around the kitchen, interact with the chefs and have fun. Getting a reservation was fairly simple, but I did have to wait about a month for an available spot which gave me plenty of time to get excited. This BYOB spot constantly changes their menu so I sent an email two days before our dinner asking for some beverage recommendations. I was guided to different pairings including a bubbly, white and red. The suggestions were all available at Binny's, tasted amazing and paired beautifully with each course. We were invited to dine at 7:30pm as there is only one seating. All the dishes are prepared and served together. Every dish was an experience. There were modern interpretations of classic dishes and fun surprises in others. The flavors blended seamlessly with one another and had us craving more. Before our first course, I joked about not having any silverware and eating with our fingers. When our first course was served, we were instructed to pick up our plates and lick them. No silverware was to be provided and using your fingers would be frowned upon. Amazing. Thank you for making fine dining fun and playful! After giggling to ourselves, we picked up our plates and liked them clean. I'm not very graceful with licking my plate, and I managed to get caviar on my nose. Fun times. Here's a little of our journey through EL Ideas: Roe: coconut/goji/carrot Shima Aji: cucumber/matsutake/plankton Hamachi: apple/leeks/black garlic This next course made my mouth sing hallelujah! Pop Rocks are used in the dish to create a tingling sensation. Love. Foie Gras: autumn olives/muscat/pistachio I wish Sunday Funday served buffalo chicken like this! This was an amazing interpretation of a classic favorite. Chicken: buttermilk/hot sauce/dill I wanted to eat everyone's spoon full of this delicious bone marrow raviolo. Raviolo: marrow/marmalade/egg Pork: etouffee/parmesan/guanciale Cruciferous: brocoli/kohlrabi/cauliflower Duck: study in purple Surf and Turf: crab/salsify/horseradish Pumpkin: pear/date/rooibos Take 5: peanut/beer/chocolate Overall, it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone! Don't wait for a special occasion... just go eat here!
Everyone can uncross their fingers now! There’s somewhere new and exciting to eat in Gold Coast. That’s right! There’s a hot, new, trendy restaurant that screams sexy. It’s time to welcome Jellyfish to the neighborhood. Just off of Rush Street, an elevator leads you upstairs to the second floor where all the magic happens. The slick and sexy interior reminds me of Miami or maybe I feel like I’m underwater. Either way, I love it. Rocco Laudizio, Slick + Design, is the mastermind behind this masterpiece. White washed wood plays off the white leather booths while blue LED lights line the ceiling and create a mystical yet energetic ambiance. A rectangular blue stone is situated against a white textured wall and serves as the centerpiece for the bar. It immediately captures my attention as I make my way through the cocktail menu. The cocktail menu is playful and inviting. The signature drinks use unique flavors like bbq bitters, lychee or coriander. Since this is a pan-Asian restaurant, I look for something with sake. To my liking, there’s a signature cocktail with sparkling sake. I already feel like I’m winning. The Tea-Chee Spritzer Zipang combines sparkling sake, lychee, fresh lemonade, organic tropical tea and lemon bitters. The drink itself is beautiful and refreshing. Once finished with our cocktails, we make our way to a booth in the atrium. A soft breeze flows through the open windows. Our server greets us and is extremely attentive throughout our entire dining experience. He suggests a great bottle of sake for us to enjoy. Fortunately, we were able to snag the last bottle that evening. It’s light, crisp and exactly what I had wanted. His recommendation was superb for what we were asking. It’s always nice to have a knowledgable staff. To start, we ordered the Rocco Taco. Three mini (and crunchy) wontons were filled with hamachi, radish, red onion, citrus and ponzu. What a great introduction to our meal! They were beautifully presented on a white plate with minimal garnishes. The tacos themselves had so much color and flavor. Next came the sushi rolls. Between the two of us, we ordered four rolls. The rolls were big so lets start with the Big Chicago Roll: fresh mizuna, tuna, salmon, tamago, yellowtail, Japanese pickled cucumbers. Wow! This roll lived up to its name. The different fish were so fresh. It was my favorite roll of the night! Unless you want to embarrass yourself, I wouldn’t attempt to eat this in one bite. If you like sushi rolls with a little bit of a kick I suggest the Kiss of Fire. It’s appropriately named and has spicy tuna, jalapeno, white tuna, salmon and wasabi sauce. This was a treat for me! It was the perfect amount of kick or should I say fire? The Black Diamond included shrimp tempura, Alaskan crab mix and black caviar. Lastly, we tried the Lobster Mango Roll. It was rolled with lobster and sea salted crab. On top were mangoes and flying fish roe. The mango was such a nice treat, and kept me reminiscing of summer. Again, the flavors were simple, clean and fresh. Too often, sushi restaurants try to do too much and lose the essence of sushi. Jellyfish captures the natural flavors of the fish and accents them with fresh ingredients. They’re creative and true. It’s sushi done right. I cannot recommend this place enough! Whether you’re looking for a fun cocktail, quick bite or an exceptional dinner, this is the place. If you’re not a huge sushi fan, Jellyfish also offers main entrees. The service is exceptional. The drinks are carefully prepared, and the food is made with passion. I am so happy Jellyfish has found its way into my neighborhood.
Chicago Roll, Rocco Taco,
Being a huge fan of Roots, I was more than excited to be invited to an event at Homestead. This farm-to-table restaurant sits atop Roots Handmade Pizza. Walking to the roof is like walking into a lush garden with over 100 plants growing alongside the walls and patio. Lights are strung across the space and add a romantic finish to the simplistic and rustic rooftop. Are we still in Chicago? Chef John Wayne Formica has previously shown his expertise at Sunda, and his talents are executed with perfection up here. His food inspirations can be found on his blog Traveling Cowboy Chef. For the Grey Goose event, he prepared bite size portions of some favorite menu items. I may or may not be lying when I say I helped myself to seconds and even thirds. The first bit we tried was a goat cheese and beet bite. This combination has always been a favorite of mine. Next came the Mozzarella Roulade. The house cheese was rolled with meadow mix, arugula and basil. It was topped with a cherry tomato and sustainable spanish extra virgin olive oil. This was absolutely delicious and refreshing. The texture of the mozzarella contrasted well with the filling. Now I love tartar, and I am a huge fan of steak tartar. However, I have never tried Lamb Tartar. That being said, I am a lamb fanatic so having them together was quite the treat. The Colorado lamb was mixed with bulgur, mint, scallion, parsley, tomato, cinnamon, lemon, cucumber, apple wood smoked sea salt over a sesame aioli. As if that wasn’t enough to make your mouth water, it was served on chickpea crisps made in house. Keep passing the yum! The Two Way Potato melted in my mouth. What I believe was a cannoli shell was stuffed with potatoes blended with prairie fruit farm goat cheese and truffle oil. It was topped with a piece of Italian summer truffle. I thought I was over the truffle craze until I tried this dish. The Crispy Vegetable Tempura offered a nice variety of unique vegetables. One of my favorites were the Seared Scallops. Bay scallops were served with a sun choke puree, capers, chives and house-pickled tomatoes. They were then topped with free ranched Kentucky paddlefish caviar and finger lime caviar. This was another new taste for me. The lime caviar added a nice twist to the dish. Last but not least were the Spicy Chicken Wings. Now this might sound a bit messy, but the taste is worth the mess. This chicken is prepared with soy, turmeric, ginger and lemongrass. It’s served over a bed of kale kimchi and accompanied with a chili sauce. Go ahead… dig in. These might give chicken wings a whole new meaning! The menu is meant to be ordered in a sharing manner. So grab a couple of friends and enjoy the ambiance, cocktails and delicious food!
Restaurant: Table fifty-two
I’ve heard rumors about this cozy spot, and I had to put them to rest. Turns out, the rumors are true. Table Fifty-Two has the best brunch in Chicago. Brunch is only served on Sundays from 10:30am-1:30pm which was a huge dilemma since I normally work on Sundays. I am so happy I finally have Sundays off. My mouth is still drooling over our delicious, Southern breakfast. This rustic restaurant is full of charm, and we easily find ourselves sitting outside. A few benches are nestled on the sidewalk. It’s perfect. Our server was witty and played along with our crazy antics. To continue our festivities, we order up a couple of mimosas. A delicious loaf of sweet potato bread is brought to our table. We enjoy the bread and butter while we try to get our minds together. What to order? The menu is tantalizing, and I want to try a bite of everything… maybe even two. I already knew I was going to order the Fried Chicken & Waffles. Most of the rumors stem from this sweet and savory menu item. The dish, as anticipated, was immaculate. The golden waffle was topped with a mound of deep fried chicken. On the side was a fun sized jar of real maple syrup. The syrup alone was quite the treat! It took my a few minutes to figure out how to attack this dish. I pulled the chicken from the bone and drizzled maple syrup all over the combo. What happened next was love. I took my first bite and fell in love, and with each bite I fell more and more in love. The second dish we ordered was the Crab Cake Benedict. A flaky biscuit was served with a giant crab cake on top. There was a perfectly poached egg resting on that and hollandaise poured over it. The hollandaise was the right balance of butter and lemon. A refreshing green salad accompanied the benedict. You could taste the passion between each bite. Table Fifty-Two is a destination for any local or visitor. Chef Art presents a delectable menu. The service is attentive and friendly, and the ambiance is enough to bring a quirky smile to your face. So go ahead, order another mimosa and indulge in the best brunch in town.
chicken fried waffles
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