Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saigon Sisters

I know you've heard me rant about Pho plenty of times, so brace yourself: another post about PHO! My Sushi 28 pho tutorial tops this one but I had to check out Saigon Sister's new location down the street and test out their pho. I mean the gals are Vietnamese, so I had high expectations. And the chicken pho was quite tasty. The owners husband stopped by and informed us of their ingredients and no MSG dishes. You could certainly taste the fresh chicken. The broth could've used a bit more flavor but over all I wanted more, which is usually a good sign. I swear it's like bliss slurping up a good bowl of pho.
And how appropriate: I went to Saigon Sisters with my lovely sister. She shared her guilt coupons and we got a couple sandwiches as well!


We each got a Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich). I got the "L" sandwich: with braised lamb, oyster sauce, curried red onions and radishes and mint. I felt the lamb was very overpowering in flavor. So unfortunatley I took out some peices of meat (sorry to waste). After that the taste was perfect and I really liked the freshness of the mint and radishes. Such a refreshing flavor combo. My sis got the hen house: caramelized chicken, lemongrass, ginger, mint, lime and peanuts. Yet another flavorful- and fresh flavor profile. This is why I LOVE vietnamese food. Mint and lime can do no wrong together. The ginger drinks we got were so yummy. It left a nice ginger-candy after taste. 

You can see Saigon Sisters at the French Market down the street as well. I'd love to come back for dinner. The menu was a bit overpriced from what I saw, but again the flavor combination's are unique to this river west clientele and I would love to come back. 
Oh yea, and the friendly and sweet owners were great!

Saigon Sisters on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 28, 2011

Longman & Eagle

A sunny Friday afternoon calls for some beer and burgers, right? So I head to Longman & Eagle for a catch-up-gossip lunch with friend, Megan. This Logan Square location is quite obscure but if you're eyes are open you'll find it at the corner or Kedzie. The website noted they have 6 rooms, "available for overnight stay, casual yet considered offerings that seasoned travelers will appreciate when looking to immerse and initiate themselves within the fabric of a bustling, vibrant urban enclave. Our rooms vary in both price and proportion, but aesthetics, comfort and function are manifest throughout". Hmm. What an interesting concept. Very European hostel-ish.

Our waiter was very friendly and when asked about the Wittekerke- Belgian white beer he offered a very enticing description. The drink menu is ample and you won't find yourself lost, and if so you can always ask some questions.  Although, is it true that Wittekerke is made by monks? Or was our waiter totally messing with me. Either way, it could have been made by a priest for all i know, it was tasty.

On to the food. I had my eye on the burger when I checked out the menu before hand. And there it stood, calling my name. Burger it is. Slagel Family Farms Burger, Aged Windmer’s Cheddar, Neuske’s Bacon on a Brioche Bun. The bacon was melt-in-your mouth delish and the Cheddar cheese was sooo tasty I wish I could make a grilled cheese sandwich from it.
My friend choose the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe, Crispy Sage and Onion, Pickled Jalapeno sandwich. The dried sage was good, although I couldn't figure out what it was until I re-read the menu. Not much flavor in the sage but the sloppy joe itself had quite a kick to it. In a good way.

Bottom line is Longman & Eagle has great ingredients that make for rich flavorful combination's. The brunch menu looks so good that I'm sure I'll be back soon to check it out. I also wouldn't mind coming back for dinner and trying the bone-marrow or a whiskey flight.

Hat's off to Longman & Eagle. Michelin star deserved!

Longman & Eagle on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 24, 2011

NYC: The Meatball Shop

A couple weeks ago I visited a friend in NYC. I've been meaning to head to the East Coast for sometime now and I feel like the further West I go, the less of an opportunity I'll have to hit the big apple. The trip was short and sweet- a two day stint in the LES with my friend, a former Chicago resident, and her lovely roommate. We hit a couple bars and feasted during the day. The first night we hit Artisanal Bistro for some fondue compliments of the lovely roomate's family. The fondue was tres magnifique. And the blue cheese olive martini's hit the spot to start the meal.
Besides Artisanal I got to wander lower Manhattan and hit some shops. Along the way I stopped into Dean & DeLuca's for some treats. The cupcakes (red velvet), chocolate chip cookies and coconut cakes were heavenly. I only wish I hadn't forgotten my camera. Boo.
Considering the fact that I was staying in the cross fires of 2 ethinic mixes (China town / Little Italy) I had to stop in China town to check out the markets. And of course wander little Italy for kicks. In China town I found a little Pho shop and just couldn't resist getting a bowl at Pho Grand.  It was delish!
For dinner I got to meet up with a Grad school friend I've been missing at Corsino Cantina in the West Village. The company was great and catching up after not seeing each other for a couple years left our waitress coming back a dozen times to see if we were ready to ordered yet, opps. The apps- flat bread pizza (amazzing) and entree's (pasta) were perfect for sharing over conversation. This meal topped the rest mostly because of conversation.

The favorite NYC food (this trip) would have to be at The Meatball Shop in the lower east side neighborhood. The place screams of character, just like the neighborhood it's in. We went on a very snowy afternoon and all the tables were filled. So we opted for the bar. Which I really don't mind, in fact I'd much rather sit up top and check out the view in the kitchen. And the staff was certainly a reflection of the owners of this little shop. Everything= meatballs. Seriously, this is a dream for most foodies. And why Chicago hasn't caught on is perplexing to me. Who doesn't love 'em some balls?
We ordered two kinds of sandwich's - a special / and a standard ball. You can also get naked balls, sliders, what they call heros, or smash ( 2 balls smashed together). The menu is meant to be customized and fit to order. We also got some cream soda's. The sandwich's were delish!! I want one in Chicago! The diner next to us was eating solo and from the looks of his belly he's a frequent visitor, he informed us this place brings in like $80,000 a week and they are in the works to open another location. Maybe just a little west? Like say- Chicago?

So all in all NYC trip was a food success. I wish I took more pictures but I was sort of in a trance of the city. Maybe next time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Next Restaurant

Psst. Have you heard about Next? I only found out about this place while driving down Fulton (my hood) and noticed construction taking place at the old Fulton Lounge. I often curse Fulton Lounge for closing down,  I've had some fond memories there and really enjoyed their drink and music selection. It's hard to find something comparative to Fulton Lounge.

Anyways, while glancing sadly at the former space, and almost running into a fish delivery truck, I noticed construction underway. I wondered what was going to fill this lovely location. Seriously, I love my neighborhood. I'm in walking distance to the Publican (which I still haven't been to, scratch that I went to publican the day after I posted this for happy hour drinks, oysters and pork rinds. But forgot my camera!) and all the amazing restaurants on Randolph street. What was this mysterious construction going to produce?

Check it.
Chef Grant Achatz and the creative team behind Alinea are creating a new restaurant where you buy tickets ahead of time (instead of making reservations). Sort of like going to a show.  Buying tickets in advance is new to Chicago and already he's creating buzz.

You'll be paying for a 5-6 course meal that includes food, beverage pairings and service. Depending on the menu and what day/time you dine you'll be paying around $40-$75. Wine and beverage pairings begin at 25$. Yup, coming from the  man that brought you a $195 meal (excluding the pairings of course), a much more reasonable and equally imaginative menu I'm sure. Oh yea, they are also opening a bar next door called Aviary. I can't really find much out about Aviary but here's what their website says , "The Aviary is neither a bar nor a lounge exactly. Or perhaps it is a bar without a bar or bartenders. Or a lounge without the attitude of a lounge. It is our version of where we want to go for drinks on a Thursday evening with friends who care about what they are drinking and eating."

Um. Is that a riddle?

I swear they are just trying to mess with us. Darn it. It's working because I really want to go!!
BTW it's still not open.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicago Restaurant Week 2011

The extensive list for this year's Chicago Restaurant Week is available on their website! A great opportunity to try a restaurant you've been eyeing for a 22$ lunch or 33$-44$ dinner prix fixe. The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) produced this event to celebrate the world-class dining that Chicago has to offer. It has over 200 participating restaurants and last year it proved to be very successful with 117 restaurants and over $11.6 million in revenue. Personally, it just gives me another excuse to eat out and try somewhere new. It also helps on the wallet. A 22$ lunch menu at a place that normally goes for higher seems like enough of an excuse for me! Check out the list for yourself and don't forget to make reservations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Southern

Happy New Year!! After the festivities nothing cures a hangover like bloody Mary's! So we headed over to The Southern on North avenue for some brunch and 3$ mimosa's and bloody's on New Years Day. Yum! This place used to be chaise lounge and I've been eying it for sometime now. I can't wait for warmer weather bc the outdoor space looks so cozy.
The interior is somewhat like a lumberjack interior designer decorated it. Stylish and rugged. Make sure you wear flannel, have a pixie hair-cut if you are a girl and facial hair if you're a guy. Oh yea, hipster glasses too. Just kidding, our group had none of those but I counted at least one hipster per table. Nothing wrong with that.

They are known for their family style chickens (order ahead of time for a fest for 22$ a person) and brunch. For the app we had the mac n cheese with gouda cheese and sausage. A couple of us ordered the fried chicken with biscuits and it was tasty! We could have done with more gravy but chicken was delish, and hit the spot on a cold hangover day like that. I ordered the Southern Ma'am, open face pork sandwich with a fried egg on top. Mmm! Finally for dessert we had this pudding cake. Not our favorite, between the spice and thickness of the bread it tasted a bit like stuffing? 

All in all I would come back and try some other options. The flavor combination's are nothing new yet a step up from your typical bar grub. The bloody Mary's could use some work, but for 3bucks you can't really be picky. 

Oh yea, I loved the booths in the corner I left like I was in a lodge. :) 
The Southern on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Chambord and Champagne pre-nye 

2011, sounds odd.
This year flew by and brought about a lot of change for me, as I'm sure it did for you. After looking back on 2010 (the highs and lows) we all seem to set goals and deadlines for what we want out of 2011. This year I have no New Year's resolutions. I only vow to enjoy myself for what is going to be (tentative) my last year in Chicago. The 5th and final year. I'm moving toward the Pacific Ocean, in due time, and I want to enjoy it here as much as possible. That means no limitations of chocolate, pho, a good pale ale, pulling out my camera at the dinner table, or anything else that makes me smile.

Happy New Year.


Takashi was my favorite meal of 2010. The boyfriend and I decided to do a Christmas dinner instead of traditional presents so we found Takashi on the Michalin list and decided to try it. This place is so inconspicuous you would never notice it is a restaurant and not a residence. The outside is so cute! The inside is even better, decorated minimally and beautifully. We were seated in the upstairs loft-style space. I felt like I was in someone's chic attic.

We opted for the 6-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Our wonderful waiter gave us approval and I am so glad we picked not only the tasting menu, but the winepairings! 

First up was the amuse bouche- oyster with ginger dressing on top of mushrooms. Paired with an Avinyo Brut Champagne. The Champagne was perfect with the crisp seafoody taste of the oyster. I got more of the ginger sauce then my date but the consensus was all smiles. The perfect amuse bouche !

Then came the maguro tataki seared big eye tuna with brussel sprouts and pickled salsfiy. It was paired with a Riesling. Another fresh and light flavor combination. The crisp of crackers on the tuna was a nice contrast.

For #2 was the shrimp, squid, scallop and octopus ceviche. I love ceviche , and in my eyes you can do no wrong with it. Indeed this was amazing! Takashi is not selfish with the portions either, the large peices of fish really made it feel like a meal in itself. This was eaten with the Riesling as well. 

#3 was sauteed Maine scallops and gnocchi. the root-Parmesan foam on top was a perfect addition and the scallops were cooked to perfection! Paired with a reserve Chablis. This was our favorite wine! 

#4 was the soy-ginger pork belly served with a pickled daikon salad and steamed buns. This was almost a loosely translated deconstruction of the open face sandwich. The pork was nicely cooked with a sweet finish. Paired with a pinot noir. 

#5 was the grilled bob white quail with pancetta. I've never had quail and loved the flavor. Darker meat but certainly delicious. I loved the  port wine reduction . This was paired with another amazing red wine. 

And finally for #6 was the chocolate macadamia nut cake with a bittersweet ganache and vanilla ice cream! Paired with a port a perfect sweet touch to the end of an amazing meal.

On our way out we spotted Takashi himself. He actually was standing at the hostess booth greeting people coming in! How authentic was that! I loved that and we were able to tell him how much we loved his food, even better. I would love to come back to this place or even check out his noodle only shop at the Macy's on state street. I heard his ramen is bomb. Who! 

Takashi on Urbanspoon