Wine, garlic, olive oil, pork, and cheese make up my food pyramid. I'm a fledgling cook at home, but a fantastic eater when we head out to try new restaurants, as well as old favorites. I'm lucky enough to say I've lived in some of the best food cities in the world: Chicago, Florence, and Melbourne, and there's nothing I love more than a dinner out that reminds me why I love food and wine so much.
Restaurant: Osteria Langhe
Osteria Langhe is one of those charming, warm little restaurants that you want to return to again and again. Don't expect huge amounts of food, this menu is meant to be eaten in the Italian way- 5 courses of perfectly sized portions. Every Monday they also do a special, all you can eat mussels and frites, grilled meats, offal...it's all been on the menu! Aldo is the most congenial host, you can tell he loves the Langhe region and he showcases it with the interesting and amazing wine list. Chef Cameron really does Italian cuisine justice as well, everything is simple and uses the best ingredients- my favorites were the ragu (hello comfort food!), and the carne cruda (the flavor shines through without being overdone-it's simple and perfect!). I absolutely love Osteria, it's a favorite and always a lovely night !
Restaurant: Tete Charcuterie
This place is perfect. My husband and I went in early on a Monday and had the place to ourselves. We were able to meet the chefs/owners and chat about their meaty vision of made-in-house charcuterie and choucroute dinners featuring guest chefs (which have so far featured Jimmy Papadopoulos of Bohemian House and Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen). And the food, good lord the food! We ordered a gorgeous ricotta agnolotti with asparagus, peas, and morels (this was the spring menu) that was so delicious, light, and perfect that we were blown away. The sweetbreads with mole sauce and veg was great as well, the sweetbreads were lightly breaded and not overly greasy or fried as so many sweetbreads can be. And the crown jewel, the Tête platter- a masterful assortment of deliciousness. I honestly couldn't pick my favorite terrine, pâté or cured meat. I can't say enough about this place, it is fabulous!
Gunshow is ballsy. Plain and simple. Kevin Gillespie and fellow chefs Joey and Andreas compose menus every Tuesday and then go to work in the kitchen every night, composing dishes and wheeling them around the dining room themselves, dim sum-style. Does that look tasty? Grab a dish! Not your cup of tea? Pass and wait on the next cart! Where can you have the chefs themselves explaining their dishes and available for questions, right at your tableside? We couldn't fathom actually saying no to any dish, which varied from fried quail legs over absolutely amazing coconut curry collards, to seared halibut, to lamb belly. This place is unique because the diner experiences a myriad of styles and compositions with each dish, and it can vary wildly from week to week, or even night to night, and from chef to chef. We ended up having everything on the menu, and our favorites (not that we could actually choose and absolute favorite) included: -Fried quail with the coconut curry collards- I'd never had collards this way and man, were they incredible. -Seared halibut-absolutely perfectly cooked. Perfectly. -Fried rabbit with sweet chili sauce- tender savoriness with a sweet pop of chili sauce, finger-licking good. -Lamb belly with pureed butternut squash and okra- comfort food, yes! -"In-N-Out"-animal-style burger- BALLSY, and worth every shameful bite. Holy cow (pun intended) Gunshow is loud, Gunshow is fun, Gunshow only serves wine and whisky, and Gunshow is damn good.
Restaurant: Mott St
Mott St is simply unbelievable. Unassuming on the outside, simple and streamlined on the inside, Mott St lets the food speak for itself. We tried almost every single thing on the menu, everything was delicious and there were some real surprises. Some things that really stood out for us were the: Grilled Leeks-simple prep with that great grilled flavor Crab Brain Fried Rice- the creamy foie gras-type crab brain is not overpowering to the dish but provides an interesting and tasty twist to my chosen comfort food. Imperial Rolls-meaty, crispy. The chimichurri creme fraiche dip is the perfect tangy touch. Kimchi Udon-the fermented kimchi with spicy, fishy cod roe is a winning combo for me. Harry's Butter Thighs-punjabi curry was a nice change Stuffed cabbage- pork butt with sticky rice boiled in kimchi broth- savory comfort food in a cabbage Calamari-wok fried with chili paste- tender and simple, with big flavor ..and the oyster mushrooms- those oyster mushrooms with thyme and miso butter were such a great surprise, I could spoon that butter onto every dish. The meaty texture of the oysters was addicting as well. Such a great, simple dish. I've read reviews from other publications selling Mott St short, but I believe the food is ballsy yet approachable. Mott St truly was the most delightful surprise for us, we loved every dish and every minute, the servers and bartenders were also extremely friendly and helpful. I recommend going early before it's too crowded and starting at the inviting bar for a few fabulous cocktails before dinner. It's a great place and I'm upset I couldn't make it back a few times before we moved out of Chicago!
Restaurant: La Sirena Clandestina
We loved La Sirena SO much, we went twice in a row! We were looking for a new spot for dinner and had heard so much praise for La Sirena, that we had to give it a try. We started out the first night sitting at the bar (best spot in any restaurant!) with some tequila cocktails (perfect, not too sweet, right amount of tequila and bitter), as well as : -the empanada special of the night (rabbit and mushrooms)- delicious, rich, but lighter because they're baked, not fried -shaved brussels sprout salad-light and a great palate cleanser -and our FAVORITE, the grilled sweetbreads. This was the most exciting dish I've had at a restaurant in a LONG time. It had the lovely crispier, grilled outside with a creamy and delicious inside, and the sauce had a great kick to counteract some of the creamy richness of the HUGE sweetbread. We literally went back the next night just to reorder this. We also had : -hanger streak with chimichurri sauce; perfectly cooked with a bright sauce and amazing olive oil -dry rubbed pork ribs- which had a crunchy quality because of the dry rub, but still fell off the bone -side of feijoada (rice and beans) We finished with cookies with dulce de leche filling and an chinato on the rocks. Perfection. There were so many things on the menu we still wanted to try that we decided to have dinner again the next night as well! We had: -the rabbit empanadas again -chicken hearts- tiny little explosions of flavor, with a spicy kick -head-on prawns- amazing flavor, and delish brains! -octopus escabeche; perfectly tender octo with peppers and olives -the sweetbreads AGAIN, because it was non-negotiable. -the cod croquettes -the pork milanese- crispy outside, tender inside, great mushroom sauce -lentils with bacon-a hearty and tasty side -kale salad- one of my favorite salads with a mustard vinaigrette, raisins, and pine nuts. After two great meals in a row, I am thoroughly impressed with La Sirena Clandestina. The service was great; we loved the bartenders, the drinks amazing, the food spectacular, and it's a cozy place to spend a pleasant night out. I can't wait to go back, AGAIN!
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