Posted by Krista on August 13, 2012
Gourmet donuts, gourmet donuts. I feel like it’s still five years ago, but that’s fine. I’ll eat the gourmet donuts. I’ll play along. Even though I’m really not supposed to be eating carbs these days.
So first I went to Glazed & Infused. A good excuse for a nice walk. And I ordered my donut, a coconut one, and it was freaking $3.05. What has happened to the world when a DONUT is $3.05? It was, in my opinion, dry and uninspiring. And it was a honker. Plus there a certain smug-hipster vibe about the entire experience. And no sneeze guards. Now, let me be clear. I went to the window. I did not go inside. I think things are different inside. But really, I don’t want to pay $3.05 FOR A DONUT. The Verdict: MEH. 1533 N. Damen
And then I went to Do Rite Donuts downtown. And in contrast, the staff were perky, the sneeze guards were present, and the donuts were CHEAP. I remember it was south of $2.00. $1.67 maybe? And it was MOIST. Delicious. Sadly, I cannot remember what sort of taste it had (hey, I never professed to be professional about this), but I remember thinking “Better price, better quality than that other place up north. I’ll come back here.) The Verdict: Good. Do Rite is at 50 W Randolph.
So on Twitter, when I talked about this, everyone told me that I really needed to go to the Donut Vault. Once my bike is tuned up, I’ll be heading that way. Watch for it.
Posted in Bucktown, Chicago, Desserts & Sweets, Loop | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on June 23, 2012
Ohh controversy. I’m about to tell you that I’ve had some pretty underwhelming and crap food in Chicago lately. I’ll take the blame. I just showed up; I didn’t do any research. I just went where I was told to go and ate the food that was put in front of me. A lot of people eat like this.
But it was all crap. Crappity crap crap crap. One of the photos I’m about to post might make you lose your faith in humanity. Who does this to food? WHO? And why do we, people who live in this land of plenty, why why why do we insist on putting this processed, greasy shit into our bodies?
America, if you wonder why we’re all lard-asses, you need look no further than the nachos at John Barleycorn’s in Wrigleyville. (Look away! Look away!)
In the immortal words of Mr. Gordon Ramsay, “FUCK ME.”
Then I went to Heaven on Seven, a Chicago classic. (The original Wabash location.) I am not an expert on Canjun food whatsoever, but My fried catfish po’ boy was dry and underwhelming, and my gumbo was a cup of indeterminate brown sludge and white rice. (I checked out many gumbo images and couldn’t find anything that looked like what I had. Although I did not take a photo myself, my gumbo looked just like this one on Flickr .) What I remember most about Heaven on Seven though is how my feet stuck to the floor and my elbows stuck to the table. I am a fan of peanuts on the floor at any fine establishment but…
I did like the display of hot sauces though.
And then…pizza at Pizza Serio on Belmont in West Lakeview. While not offensive or terrible, the soft floppy crust and the mess it made of our various toppings left me depressed, when I had been so very excited about their brick oven. Also problematic: our server was largely missing for most of our meal.
So given these three meals plus a myriad of others (La Pasadita, anyone?) I’m in a funk about food and Chicago at the moment, especially after returning from a week in London where each meal was better than the next, at all points along the price spectrum. Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe I need to make better choices and do more research. Maybe it’s the economy or maybe I need to find new friends! I don’t know what it is. But something’s not right. And putting cheese and salt on it isn’t helping.
Someone, help me redeem these meals. Please.
Posted in Chicago, Lakeview, Loop, United States | 7 Comments
Posted by Krista on February 6, 2012
After a few weeks of being away from home and my regular eating habits, I start to crave vegetables in massive quantities. So it was that after I returned from Brazil, all I ate every day for lunch was salad. Luckily, even though American food has a terrible reputation for heaviness and saltiness and deep-fried-ed-ness, America does excel at salads.
I started at the new Walgreen’s on State Street. I give them six months before all they offer is Doritos and Cheetos and People magazine. But in the meantime, they have a large selection of lunch salads, and they’re super cheap too. My Southwestern Chicken salad was $5.10. (+/- a few cents. I forget exactly how much.) There were only 1.5 pieces of chicken in the salad, and the tortilla chips were a bit on the stale side, but the dressing was pretty awesome. If I were on a budget, I’d eat this salad more often.
On Tuesday, I hopped over to 7th on State at Macy’s. I am a sucker for their Shrimp Tostada salad and their pretzel bread. This is not a low-calorie salad, but it is pretty damn delicious. I normally try not to eat the bread or the fried tostada that forms the base of the salad. I focus on the greens, the shrimp, and the black beans (hidden under the lettuce). This is not a cheap salad — it generally comes in around $11 bucks — but it’s pretty darn good for the price.
My favorite salad of the week has to be the Chimi Chop Salad at Native Foods at 218 S Clark Street in the Chicago Loop. Another $11 salad. But no meat! Only veg. I don’t know if it’s the “warm shaved Native Peppered Seitan” (no idea what that is) or the dressing or what, but this is a damn good salad that I think about often in my spare time. I am not kidding.
On Thursday, I popped into Au Bon Paid for their Mediterranean Salad. This came in around $7.50 or so. Meh. Ice cold and not enough going for it. A sad, sad salad. But the balsamic dressing was nice.
Admittedly, on Friday I took a break from salad. I had a craving for some Indian food, so I went to the only place I could find in The Loop serving a curry. The place is called Curried and it kinda, well, sucks. Firstly, they screwed up my order. Secondly, if screwing up my order wasn’t bad enough, when I went up to the counter to deliver my gentle, “Hey um, so I don’t think this is mine,” the guy at the counter told me I must have made a mistake. Um, no. I didn’t make a mistake, you did. Jackass. And thirdly, while the saag paneer was nice, the chicken tikka felt like it must have come out of a box.
Despite Friday’s slip up, today, I was back on the salad. I caught up my colleague Mark — he back from London, me back from Brazil — over a Winter Cobb Salad at the Atwood Cafe in The Burnham Hotel. I used to stay at The Burnham all the time for work in the old days, back when I lived across the pond. I will always have a soft spot for the hotel and its restaurant. But with or without my faded memories, this was a very nice salad. Could have used a bit more dressing, but otherwise, quite nice. Pricey though. My portion of the bill came to $24, with tip and tax. I got a lot of ingredients though, for $24. But still…sigh.
The Verdict: If I had to rank the salads, I would say…
1. Native Foods, Chimi Chop
2. 7th on State, Shrimp Tostada
3. Atwood Cafe, Winter Cobb
4. Au Bon Pain, Mediterranean Salad
5. Walgreen’s Southwestern Salad
That’s roughly $58 on salad, plus the $11 I spent on curry for $69. Wowzers. And I wonder why I have no money.
Posted in American, Chicago, Loop, United States | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 31, 2012
So many places. I really need to stop eating for a while. Or I need to only eat vegetables. Or do something about the flat tires on my two bikes. Or I need to start walking to/from work like every day. (I say this because today on my way out of work, I ran into my colleague and neighbor who has been walking home from work every day for the last year or so and he has lost so much weight…sigh.)
Bar Toma, 110 East Pearson. So firstly, I need to give them props because their location is huge (both in size and the perfectness of location) and if I were a tourist and stumbled in here, I would be very very happy. It’s casual. There’s a bar. And look…I ate some vegetables! We LOVED the charred carrots with Capriole goat cheese, almonds, and Acetaia San Giacomo balsamico. Also loved the beets and gorgonzola. Our pizza was just good, but we weren’t very creative. Just a Pizza Margherita. I tried to get my friend Aileen to have some Prosecco and she demurred. Who says no to Prosecco??? I think she’s preggars. The Verdict: Fun. Cheap. Casual.
Lula Cafe, 2357 N Kedzie: I dragged my friend Amy here one afternoon after New Year’s and I think she hates me now. Lula’s was packed. We got two seats at the bar and were promptly ignored by anyone and everyone. We eventually placed our order and we were promptly ignored again. And then we ate our food — my butternut squash soup and salad were good but not swoon-worthy — and we asked for our bill and (surprise!) we were both promptly (or impromptly) ignored again. It was all rather tiresome, and we left very tired and very grouchy. The Verdict: Hard to focus on the food when the service was so terribly terribly terribly abysmal. (You can imagine my Madonna accent — yes the UK one — as I’m saying that.) I liked the decor though.
The Southern Mac & Cheese Store, 60 East Lake Street. Even though my one and only experience at The Southern in Bucktown was nothing to write home about, I really liked my Artichoke Spinach Mac & Cheese at The Southern’s newish retail outlet. Crispy where it needed to be crispy, with plenty of artichoke and spinach, only two of my favorite things. I was surprised the shop wasn’t more crowded on the day we were there. Personally, I think they need to offer half portions because of the perception of mac & cheese alone. A lot of mac & cheese is NOT good for the waistline. Somehow a sandwich of the same caloric value doesn’t have the same perception. The Verdict: I liked this, but I can’t eat like this all the time. I’ll be back once a quarter.
I think I still have more to catch up. The more I eat, the less I write. I’m okay with that.
Posted in American, Chicago, Italian, Logan Square, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Modern European, United States | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on November 23, 2011
Rootstock, Humboldt Park: I dropped into Rootstock with my friend Amy one drizzly Sunday a couple of weeks ago. I love it here, and I am mad at myself for not biking over more frequently over the summer. It’s a very low-fi place, and they serve brunch til 4 pm on Sundays, which is pretty awesome. My only complaint is that once 4 pm rolls around, they really really want you out.
Having been a Webster Wine Bar fan for many years, I can tell there’s a connection between the two places. The furniture, the wall color and decor…it’s all very similar. All I had here was a bowl of butternut squash soup, but it was very very nice and I would be pleased to go back to try more of the concise menu. I like concise menus.
Cantina Laredo, River North: Popped into here for a big work lunch a few weeks ago. Our group was big enough that we were given their private dining room, which is a very nice space with lots of natural light. My colleague Mark, who is from Texas, thought the food was the best Tex-Mex he’d had in Chicago. I thought my fish tacos were dry and flavorless. This place is HUGE so I’m sure it’s good for convention traffic and large groups on the weekends.
Rudy’s Bar & Grill, The Loop. “Home of the Milkshake Martini.” I don’t want a milkshake martini, and can’t imagine anyone else does either, but the burgers are okay. They toasted the bun, which always gets points in my book. They sat me next to the mop closet though, which subtracts points in my book. I liked the idea of my burger–a Mexican burger, with poblano strips, chorizo, pepperjack cheese, pico de gallo, serrano mayo and “avacado spread.” But all I tasted was avocado, and the burger was not medium–it was closer to medium-well. And the fries were soggy. Plenty of people would like it here, and the Christmas decor made for a happy environment. But I don’t know if I’d seek this place out again.
Posted in American, Bar Food, Chicago, Humboldt Park, Loop, Mexican, River North, United States, Wine | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on November 4, 2011
Besides the fact that it’s slightly blurry.
I ordered a half dozen oysters at McCormick & Schmicks for lunch. Now let me start by saying the bar area at McCormick & Schmicks could use a good power-washing. And then let me say that it was about 10 minutes before my server acknowledged me. He brought me a drink and a menu immediately but then it was another ten minutes before he took my order. (I was sitting AT the bar. I was hard to miss.) And then another ten minutes later (plus?), I got this. Yup.
And no napkin.
The lobster bisque was nice though.
Posted in Chicago, Loop, United States | 6 Comments
Posted by Krista on November 2, 2011
A big bowl of miso ramen at Noodles by Takashi in the 7th on State food court at Macy’s. I wouldn’t mind a bit more braised pork, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if they were open for dinner. I’m not a huge fan of their fried rice…that’s a lot of money for fried rice…but I’ll shell out the $10 for a big bowl of ramen. Especially at this time of year, when the days are so much shorter and you can feel that winter is approaching. Steadily.
Posted in Chicago, Japanese, Loop, United States | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on October 30, 2011
Native Foods, Wicker Park: I want to like Native Foods because I want to feel virtuous all the time. And you know, as a lover of food of all kinds, I can get down with veganism once or twice a year. But my Soul Bowl at Native Foods was two-thirds cardboard. (The Soul Bowl is made up of Southern fried Native Chicken (i.e., not chicken), red beans, rice, steamed veggies, and kale dressed with ranch and BBQ suace and served with cornbread.) After eating half of this dish, I came to the sudden realization that I do not really like kale. The Native Chicken was pretty good, for not being chicken and all. I might go back here for my twice-yearly “I need to feel virtuous” visit but otherwise…meh.
DMK Burger Bar, Lakeview: I refuse to go back to Fish Bar, so after my last hair cut, I dropped into DMK for a burger. They have a weird space issue going on…it’s like the space is just a little too big for them. But service was pretty cheerful and helpful and I liked my roasted hatch green chili, fried egg, sonoma jack and smoked bacon burger. My only complaint was the usual one: SOGGY BUN SYNDROME. I really need to remember to ask restaurants to toast my bun for me before serving. I really liked the lemon alioli they did with the sweet potato fries. Everything is served on small little plates though. That’s weird. I would still go back here though.
Siam Rice, The Loop: Dropped in here one afternoon for a quick work lunch. We got here on the early side, and for that I remain grateful. Because by the time we left, we couldn’t even get out the front door, so crowded was it. My Thai green curry — a standard by which I measure most Thai restaurants — was watery and missing its zip. I was very disappointed. I would not go back here. Or if I did, I would not have the green curry.
Hot Woks, Cool Sushi: Another quick lunch during the work week. I love the idea of a bento box, but in this one, the only thing worth eating was the vegetable tempura. (With one battered shrimp thrown in for good measure.) The chicken teriyaki was dry and flavorless and the California rolls were oddly assembled. I would not go back here.
I am still way behind. More Chicago, plus Mexico City, Doha, Tel Aviv ahead. Stay tuned.
Posted in American, Burgers, Chicago, Lincoln Park, Loop, Pan-Asian, Thai, United States, Wicker Park | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on October 14, 2011
That’s $3.33 worth of cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. All they had left at 8 am this morning was vanilla with vanilla (mine), vanilla with chocolate, chocolate with chocolate, chocolate with vanilla, and red velvet with vanilla. No interesting flavors. And the queue was a stressful mess. (I did a lot of sighing and rolling my eyes. Sorry.)
I found the icing cloying. My mother’s is better. Maybe that’s nostalgia talking. But I feel pretty good about nostalgia. Cheaper too.
Posted in Loop | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on August 6, 2011
When life’s got me down, I head on over to the 7th floor of Macy’s — yes, the food court — and I order myself some of Rick Bayless’ shrimp tacos. Truly delicious. Why more Chicago taco joints don’t add shrimp tacos to the menu, I have no idea. (Well, it’s probably a regional thing.) These shrimp tacos don’t come quick, but they’re worth the wait. You should get some. (Tip: eat lunch at 11 am. Avoid the 12 noon rush or you will be there FOREVER.) Also good? If AT&T’s wireless network’s got you down — seriously AT&T I hate you — the food court has free wifi. Go.
Posted in Chicago, Loop, Mexican, United States | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on July 22, 2011
151 W Adams
Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The Victims: Gals from work
The Damage: I put in $35 for my $8 soup and my $14 ravioli and my Arnold Palmer that had to have been less than $4. So let’s say $26. Plus 10% tax and 18% tip equals
$30.68 max. $33.28.
The Background: It’s nice to get out of the office. And NOT talk about work. We’ve been trying to do that, so last Tuesday’s field trip was to The Florentine, the newish Italian in the downtown Marriott.
It’s one of those things…I work in The Loop, but I rarely stray more than three blocks from the office when it comes to lunch. And I rarely if ever go south of Monroe. So to go to Adams…WOW. Big news.
The Entrance: The Florentine is on the 2nd floor of a soulless cookie-cutter US Marriott. Hey, I’ve stayed in a lot of Marriotts. They’re fine. People who probably don’t stay in a lot of hotels probably think they’re great. For me though…they’re big and soulless. So I’m somewhat surprised when we enter The Florentine and it’s LOVELY. It does have soul. The light is entering the windows JUST SO and there’s a happy buzz about the place.
The Food: It took us a while to flag down our server and place our orders, but after that, things went remarkably quickly. Almost too quickly. My tomato soup was HUGE and very good. I should have just had this. But no, I had to order a main as well.
I had the ravioli…English Pea Ravioli with oil cured tomatoes, garden peas, and fiore sardo. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And looks pretty too, right?
Too bad the pasta was served practically RAW. As in crunchy. I really should have sent it back. Really.
The Verdict: Liked the setting. Liked the soup. But the pasta…meh.
Posted in Chicago, Italian, Loop, United States | 7 Comments
Posted by Krista on July 19, 2011
I can tell I haven’t been traveling lately because my apartment looks like a tornado hit it and I have no dirty laundry. At all. It’s a strange feeling, but this is what comes with an international job when the rest of the world takes off nearly all of July and August. Sigh. America, we’ll get there someday.
I can also tell I haven’t been traveling much because I’ve been eating out a lot more in Chicago lately. But there are some places that I just can’t get a full post out of. So here’s a round-up of some of the Chicago places I’ve visited lately.
Mercadito: I thought I’d written about Mercadito a few years ago but I can’t seem to find the post. My friend Chris was in town from London for the night and my colleague Mark was a bachelor for the week so we headed over to Mercadito to fulfill Chris’ request for Mexican. (I know, I know. We could have gone someplace more “authentic” but we needed to stay local for various reasons. And my guess is that a good portion of Mercadito’s kitchen staff is Mexican anyhow, so “authentic” is a non-starter.) The margaritas were great, our server was awesome, and Chris was extremely pleased with the tacos. The noise-level was deafening and the restaurant is too dark to take photos in, but this is a fun place with tasty food that I will gladly revisit.
Bandera: I stopped in here around 2:45 pm on a Friday afternoon in the hopes of having a good lunch salad. (My employer very graciously grants summer hours between May and September, so you might notice I take myself out to eat a lot on Friday afternoons when I’m in town.) The “Hacked” chicken salad was really really good. Oddly — but this is America after all — after my first bite of salad, I thought to myself… “Oh, there’s real chicken in here.” None of those frozen chicken breasts. This was a real roast chicken hacked up into bits, and it was dark meat, my favorite. Loved the dressing, which was a bit of lime and a bit of peanut. I thought the service was a bit stand-offish, but for a salad, I’d go back here.
Emerald Loop: I dropped into Emerald Loop with a few colleagues to have lunch and watch the women’s US soccer team beat France in the women’s world cup. It was kinda exciting to see so many people out to watch the women. Sadly, my Southwestern Chicken salad was nowhere near as exciting. In fact, it was pretty bad. Frozen chicken breast that still tasted like refrigerator and an over-dressed salad. Meh. Not for me. Service was generally good though, but we did wait for ages for our food and the check.
Coming up…Shaw’s Oyster Bar, Mana Food Bar, The Florentine, and Blue Star Wine Bar.
Posted in American, Chicago, Loop, Mexican, Michigan Avenue, River North, United States | 5 Comments