Dillmans, Chicago

Posted by Krista on September 18, 2013

IMG_6415I went to Dillman’s for lunch the other day. It is all dark and cozy with chandeliers. My server said “for sure, for sure” a lot. It was distracting. Also distracting? The rose was listed under “Whites” on the wine list. Less distracting? The chicken liver and lovely toasty warm brioche. A very generous, tasty and satisfying portion at $9.95.

Best part? COWSHED PRODUCTS in the bathroom. SOHO HOUSE CHICAGO, I am coming for you.

The Verdict: Go for the chandeliers! And wash your hands with all the Cowshed! Have the chicken liver with ALL the toast. For sure.

Dillman's on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Chicago, River North, United States | 1 Comment

Tanta, Chicago

Posted by Krista on September 15, 2013

IMG_6385I like meeting people from the Internet. People like Francis who says to me one day, “I’m going to Lima by myself. You should come!” And I say things like “Francis, you can’t say things like this to me because I will actually come with you.” And before you know it, Wendy and Maureen are coming too and Francis turns out to be the TRAVEL MASTER ORGANIZER and has an agenda for us and everything and we eat all the fruit and drink all the pisco sours and leave Lima very very happy.

Francis proved to be the master organizer yet again when he marched us little ducklings off to Tanta, the new Peruvian place in Chicago by Peruvian chef Gaston Arcurio, whom some may be familiar with from World’s 50 Best Astrid & Gaston. (Almost wrote Gastrid and Ashton there. Whoops.)

I’m worried about Tanta’s location. Although it’s in River North, it’s in a bit of a desolate stretch of Grand close to Lasalle. Signage is also a little discreet for River North, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I can imagine the tourists walking by…”Should we go here? I don’t know…Tanta? What does that mean? Do they have steak here? Do you think I can put ketchup on it? I hope they open at 5.”

But once inside, I love the space. I love the bar and would happily come back here to dine solo. I love that it’s not too uber-stuffed with tables and chairs. There’s an appreciation of personal space here that is just really nice.

That being said, personal space is on overdrive at the back of the restaurant at our table, which is too wide and too long for our party of five. I am the fifth wheel. And the restaurant is LOUD and my hearing is not as bionic as it used to be. I am alone at the end of the table, but the lovely and gracious Mr. Stashwick is a wonderful table-mate.

Enough babble. Let’s talk CHICKEN. I cannot profess my love of a full roast chicken enough. Roast chicken is one of my absolute favorite things to eat and to make. (Yes, you read that correctly…to make!) While I hate restaurant chicken breast entrees (too frozen Restaurant Depot for me), I love a pick-at-it-all-day-and-all-night-long roast chicken. And Tanta’s is probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The presentation is awesome…so many sides and lovely crisp potatoes that are even crisp the next morning when I polish them off as leftovers for breakfast. Seriously, this is very good stuff, very excellent, supremely competent stuff.

The Verdict: I will be back here soon. You should go too. Maybe we should go together and drink all the Pisco Sours together.

P.S. It’s perhaps worthy to note that we received special treatment the night we came in because Francis was super-excited about the restaurant’s opening and had been in touch with Gaston Arcurio and staff. The chef came out a few times to talk with us, along with some of the other senior staff. Also, we were comped a few dishes; my apologies but because I was not in charge of the bill, I’m not sure what exactly we were comped but it was a small amount in relation to the overall bill. We tipped as if we had not been comped, of course.

Tanta on Urbanspoon

 

Posted in Chicago, Latin, River North, United States | Comments Off

Beatrix, Chicago

Posted by Krista on August 27, 2013

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Long-term readers will know that on Fridays during the summer, I can leave work early if I want to. And I’ve been trying to do that this summer, trying to get out there and explore places and do things and see things. Someone told me that I would love Beatrix so I went to Beatrix on one of my Friday afternoons. Because I am trusting like that.

And I did like Beatrix. Sort of. I mean, I liked the chairs. There are a lot of different chairs at Beatrix. It’s one of those new-school/old-school all day free-wifi restaurants with lots and lots of chairs for people so you can sit down or you can stand up or you can stay for 20 minutes or you can stay for EIGHT HOURS (like the people across from me did). Lots of interesting, different chairs. Really, there’s something for everyone. Really, it felt like a total ripoff of London’s Hoxton Hotel.

“Have the burger,” some guy at the bar urged me. “I just did and it was really really good.”

Apparently that man has never had a burger in HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

Because the burger was shite. Super shite. Overcooked sawdust.

And the fries were undercooked.

And the pickled vegetables were still too raw.

When I left, I was angry at myself for wasting my Friday lunch here. Very angry.

All that being said, they were jackhammering the road outside the restaurant and you never would have known it inside the restaurant. That’s some good sound-proofing they’ve got going there.

The Verdict: But no.

Beatrix on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Chicago, River North, United States | Comments Off

Siena Tavern, Chicago

Posted by Krista on July 21, 2013

IMG_6301I had in my head this idea. That I wouldn’t go anywhere for July and August. That I wold stay in town and try to enjoy Chicago. This is my second weekend of that, and frankly speaking, I’m doing a terrible job with all this. Instead of relaxing and exploring, I’m finding myself at Home Depot, Target, the Post Office (!!!) and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Worst bit? I REALLY want to go to IKEA. NOOOOOOOO.

I did have a very nice morning at the Wicker Park Farmer’s Market last Sunday though, helped by some Divvy bikes and some classical music. (But then…stressful…Divvy didn’t show that I had ever returned my bike. They’ve still got some kinks to work out there, apparently.)

Where I’m going with all this is that for the first time in ages, I did take a bit of a break and finally took advantage of work summer hours on Friday and met @Zimmerino for lunch at Siena Tavern. I was a bit nervous about this lunch because Siena Tavern is one of those cavernous River North places with filament flightbulbs and cheap bathrooms. (Not even a soap dispenser. Seriously. Just a container of Softsoap.)

And I was somewhat right to be nervous. Because here’s how this all went down.

Me: “Hi, I don’t have a reservation but I’d like  table for two if you’ve got one.” (It was 1:30 pm on a Friday, close to the end of the lunch rush.)

Them: “We’re all booked in the restaurant right now, but you can find a table in the bar area. It’s first come first served.” Fine.

Me, sitting at the bar, about 15 minutes later, “Hi, we’re going to move to that table over there that just opened up if you don’t mind.”

Bartender: “I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that. Have you asked anyone if you can do that?”

Me: “Um, I guess I’m sort of asking you. The front desk said it was okay, so maybe we can just close out our tab and move over…”

Bartender: “Well, I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that but if that’s what they told you at the front desk, I guess you can.”

Urrrggghhhh. Thanks.

IMG_6300And then we ordered some food that took ages and ages to arrive. The brussel sprouts salad was rough and dry, and the coccoli, which everyone raves about (dough puffs slightly bigger than golf balls, prosciutto di parma wrapped around stracchino cheese, “drizzled” with truffle honey) was okay, but for me, the honey ruined everything. Too sweet, too cloying. Then the waitstaff disappeared forever and ever. And then we had some gnocchi that I can only describe as overcooked wet blobs of something in a decent cream sauce, and then a prosciutto, pear and arugula pizza where the pears had been “drizzled” with powdered sugar. I don’t want powdered sugar on my pizza. (But the arugula was very good and fresh, and the pizza crust itself was nicely done.) Ah, and then the waitstaff disappeared again and us and the table next to us spent a lot of time trying to flag someone, anybody, down.

Best line? Our waitperson walked by with two very fine looking beers on her tray, stunning in color with fine foamy heads. I had just gotten a beer, but it wasn’t anywhere near as nice looking as the two she had on her tray. “What are those? I asked her.

“Beers,” she answered.

The Verdict: Inconsistent cooking and flavor combos that didn’t work for me particularly well. Too much sweetness. In general, not my scene. But many people will like it here.

P.S. I hate the word drizzle.
Siena Tavern on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chicago, Italian, River North, United States | 2 Comments

I Love Escalivada

Posted by Krista on November 24, 2012

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You know when you have something once, and you think it’s great? And then you have it again, and you think, “Boy was I totally right that first time or what?? This stuff is freaking delicious.” So it is with me and the Escalivada at Tavernita in Chicago. It’s like crack. Not that I know what that means.

Can I tell you something? I don’t want to like Tavernita, really. Tavernita requires that one weigh 30 lbs less than one does. And also, that the length of one’s skirt hem pass no further than one inch from one’s bottom. Also, cleavage. Tavernita seems to require a lot of cleavage. And maybe a divorce or three.

But no matter. I can shut out the world and all its problems when I’m snarfing down a plate-load of Tavernita’s Escalivada. This time, it was free thanks to a social media wine dinner with Darkhorse, a Gallo brand. (Gallo has a hand in more wine than you think it does.) I love hanging out with wine makers, and Darkhorse winemaker Beth Liston just made you want to be her best friend. The Chardonnay was a party-pleaser and can be found at Trader Joe’s for under $10 a bottle. It paired really well with our first few courses of hamachi crudo and then of course the swoon-worthy escalivada.

A little Google’ing has found me Tavernita’s recipe. Worth trying someday as a little snack (or a big snack) before dinner, specially if you possess a charcoal grill:

4 small eggplants
4 small onions, halved
4 red bell peppers
2 Roma tomatoes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the vegetables
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
Salt
1 small baguette, sliced, slices grilled
Zingerman’s Creamery Lincoln Log goat cheese (or other slightly aged goat cheese)

You can see the specific instructions regarding assembly, cooking, etc. over here on Time Out Chicago.

The Verdict: Go for itAnd feel free to invite me over.

I was a guest of Darkhorse and Tavernita and did not pay for this meal.  I also received  one $20 Trader Joe’s giftcard and two bottles of Darkhorse wine — one Chardonnay and one Cabernet — in thanks for my attendance. I preferred the Chardonnay to the Cabernet, and would definitely consider picking up a bottle of Chard next time I’m in Trader Joe’s. (The cab was too jammy for me.) Darkhorse is being stocked exclusively by Trader Joe’s at the moment, only one of my favorite places in the entire world.

I’ve written about Tavernita before. Over here.

Tavernita on Urbanspoon

Posted in Blogging, Chicago, Recipes, River North, United States | 1 Comment

An Open Letter to Chicago Cut

Posted by Krista on November 9, 2012

Image borrowed from Mashable.

Dear Chicago Cut,

How are you? I hope you are well. I am fine. I went to your restaurant the other night with my British friend Ben, who was in town from London. I thought it would be nice to take him to a steak place because Chicago is famous for steak and Oprah said  you were “Phenom!!” And everyone knows who Oprah is, even British people. Plus, you dry-age steak, which is a big deal. I like big deals.

I took Ben to the John Hancock first. We had cocktails at the top, and I tried to remember everything I’d forgotten about Chicago history and architecture. I also showed him where Oprah used to live, because you can see it there, from the top of the Hancock. I’m not sure where she lives now though. Do you know?  Then we came over to your place for our steak and creamed spinach.

And we asked for your wine menu.

And you handed us an iPad, which is a cool idea in theory. I can imagine your agency of bearded wine-loving hipsters now. “THIS IS THE FUTURE OF DINING. THIS IS VISUAL. THIS IS INTERACTIVE. THIS IS…STRATEGERY.”  They probably talked about how soon, soon we will not need sommeliers. That everything will be CONTROLLED BY THE USER. WITH AN APP. That probably pronounced all this meaningfully and confidently (while scratching their beards) and told you this would all be so very, very cutting edge.

You probably spent a lot of money on this too.

So, let me tell you what I think.

In practice, your iPad wine menu? It really kinda just…sucks. Like really.

Let me tell you why:

  • It crashed multiple times while your server was showing it to us.
  • It crashed multiple times while we tried to use it.
  • Your server had to explain how although there was an “Add to Order” button on every wine page, it didn’t work. It had never worked. She did not know when it would work. “Please don’t use it,” she told us. “It doesn’t work.”
  • And then we decided that we should get some California wine, red, for under $80 a bottle. All of the filters are there on the screen. All of them. You can see them all in the screenshot above. BUT YOU CANNOT MULTI-FILTER. You can only filter on ONE THING. EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE MULTIPLE SELECTION BOXES presented at the same level of hierarchy  Whoever your agency is, they should be fired. They know nothing about usability. And they also know nothing about product development because filtering a database on multiple criteria IS NOT HARD. (Lovely readers, you can see what I mean about the Chicago Cut wine “app” over here. Try it for yourself.)
  • And then our lovely server saw that we were frustrated and tried to help us. “Please,,” I begged. “Please, do you have a sommelier? Can you send the sommelier over?” “We don’t have a sommelier,” she replied, “But all of us here, we’re pretty knowledgeable so just tell me what you’d like.” “We’d like a California red, not too meaty, good with our steaks, for under $80 a bottle.” “Oh,” she said. “I’m not sure. I really don’t know the options that well…” (!!!) “But there is this one,” she said, and steered us towards a $60 bottle of Archipel Meritage 2007. It was really nice, so there’s a good ending here. But it took us a long time to get to this point. A long time. And your iPad app still sucks. I told her this, but I didn’t use the word “sucks,” I promise.

So in short, you’re doing it wrong. Like totally, totally wrong. You are all idea and no execution. (And I don’t just mean the iPad here. If you are going to forego a sommelier, schedule some regular wine tastings for your staff!)

Thank you for reading and I hope there’s a Version 2.0.

My best,

Krista

P.S. All this being said, our steaks were very nice and our server was nice. Also, I do appreciate that your wine markup in my case was “only” 100% of retail. I know this because my friend Andy Hayler makes a GREAT app called Wine Search that lets you easily search for wine and compare list price to mark up. You should check it out to see how the pros do things.

Posted in American, Chicago, River North, United States | 5 Comments

TOO MUCH FOOD, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on April 29, 2012

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Time for a break. Too many restaurants, too little time. And I’m TIRED. I know, I know. What happened to all your photos, Krista? What happened to full blog write-ups?  Frankly speaking, no one restaurant has driven me to such great lengths in a long time. So micro-reviews it is for you. For now. Personally, I kinda like the micro-review thing. It’s like Twitter. Or a Haiku. (A long one.)

Benny’s Chop House, 444 N. Wabash, River North (ish, because I kinda feel like Wabash is a bit of a wasteland and even though it’s north of the river, it’s still in The Loop, isn’t it?). When I was looking for new kitchen knobs in December (yes, I’m very domestic like that), I met Benny himself in a hardware store and made a mental note to stop in to his restaurant sometime. In return for the name and phone number of his handyman and all. So I did. (Although I never called his handyman.) It was a weekend afternoon and the place was EMPTY. I sat at the bar and had a burger. And it was so flavorless, it was sad. The bun was good though, as were the fries. (Served in their own miniature basket for frying! Genius!) But really, all I wanted was some salt and pepper. BUT wait. The PRICE. The price was kind of amazingly right. $10 for a burger and fries that is certainly better than Mickey D’s. I mean, for that, I might just have to go back. Even though the bar area kinda felt like a bad 2008 Chicago condo kitchen installation. The Verdict: If you like value for money, sit at the bar and get a burger, but ask for salt and pepper and all that other stuff.

Irazu, 1865 N. Milwaukee, Bucktown. Everyone told me I would love Irazu, one of Chicago’s only Costa Rican restaurants. Well, I didn’t. It all felt a bit unkempt and dingy, and our table was unsteady, so that was annoying. And my tilapia tacos were probably about the most underwhelming thing I’ve eaten so far in 2012. (Tilapia. In a taco. With a lot of overcooked onions. No thank you.) My friend Amy got that oatmeal shake that everyone raves about and I thought, “Gee, it’s just like drinking cold oatmeal.” The Verdict: Meh. Not so exciting. Not sure why it’s so packed.

Maza, 2415 N. Ashland, Sort of Lincoln Park-ish. I will admit to a total bias. I used to live by the old Maza on Lincoln and I always loved it. You might know my greatest goal is to go to Lebanon at some point in the near future. And I am also a sucker for hummus. So it was that I found myself at the new Maza at Ashland & Fullerton, where I heard the incredibly sad story of the owner losing the lease on his old space in West Lakeview. The landlord on Lincoln wanted a monthly sum that no sole proprietor could ever agree to. So Maza moved. And the old space remains unoccupied still. Greedy bastards. Well, bygones because we had fun at Maza and I loved my assortment of food, just like I did in the old days. I love that it’s this guy’s restaurant and it always has been and he works there all the time.  The Verdict: Support a local businessman and go. (And really, ignore the Yelp reviews.) Sadly, the proprietor hasn’t been back to Lebanon in 30+ years.

I’ve got more. A lot more. Coming up: Storefront Company, RPM Italian, and the part where I nearly die on a bar stool at Yusho. And a lot of other places that I can’t even remember at the moment. Hmmm.

Posted in American, Bucktown, Latin, Lebanese, Lincoln Park, River North | 3 Comments

Some Hotspots, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on April 7, 2012

Chicago April 2012I’m feeling very with it these days. Although I may be lagging on the blogging front, I’m not lagging so much on the dining front — when I’m in town, that is. Here’s where I’ve been eating.

Tavernita and it’s little neighbor, Pinxtos, 151 W Erie. Tavernita is one of those huge, sceney River North spaces. I would not attempt a place like this on a weekend, so my friend Eileen and I dropped in here min-week. Our servers were many AND overbearing. Can you just let a girl eat, please? But the food was GREAT. I especially liked the escalavida (eggplant, red peppers, hazelnut romesco, goat cheese) and “greg’s meatballs” (wagyu beef pork and more hazelnut romesco.) Not a place to take your parents unless they are the hip and happening sort, but fun nonetheless. I also really like the bar, particularly if you can get a stool. The Verdict: Fun. Good fun. And good food.

Tavernita on Urbanspoon

Publican Quality Meats, 825 W Fulton Market. Dropped in for lunch one weekend afternoon and had a GREAT sandwich. I opted for “Better than a Gyro” which boasted braised pork belly, raita, escalivada, pea shoots, and calabrian chili orange vinagrette on griddled flatbread. The only let down were the homemade potato chips served with, which were oddly tasteless. Service is hip and sweet. And the price is right. (The $10 sandwich.) More of a butchershop and cafe really–definitely not a place to linger–but still cool. Ask for a tour of the prep are and meat locker downstairs. The Verdict: Great for lunch.

Blackbird, 619 W Randolph Street. My colleague and I were invited to a special networking dinner here and I was really excited about things because I think the last time I was at Blackbird was like 2006? But oh so bitterly disappointed. (Bad of me, as a guest, to complain.) Portions were eensy-weensey (and you know I’m a fan of normal sized portions) and nothing really clicked. I still want to find out what was in the butternut squash soup because it reeked of alcohol, which wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the menu. The Verdict: If you don’t go out to eat a lot, you’ll be fine here.

Blackbird on Urbanspoon

Zocalo, 358 W Ontario. My friend Christina and I dropped in here one weekend and were pleasantly surprised. Firstly, I loved the decor–all Mexican art and flowers and Frida Kahlo. Secondly, our server was awesome; I was mesmerized by his deep, deep voice. Thirdly, the food was pretty darn good. I wasn’t too experimental–I just had mixed tacos–but they were pretty awesome tacos. Also enough food for three people, but the price was right. The Verdict: Fun. I’d go back here, especially for one of their private rooms.

Zocalo on Urbanspoon

Sultan’s Market, 2057 W North Avenue. I woke up one morning, dreaming of falafel. So I went to Sultan’s, a Middle Eastern deli in Chicago’s Bucktown. And it was fine. Huge portions. It was dark though, and not in a good way. Needs an interior decorator. And a scrub brush. Too much going on. The Verdict: Meh.

Sultan's Market on Urbanspoon

Coming up…too many places to mention, really. Plus, I go back to Brazil.

Posted in Bucktown, Chicago, Fulton Market, River North, United States | 5 Comments

Eating Out, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on February 26, 2012

California Blue Line, Beautiful Day

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Sometimes the simplest explanation IS the explanation. Sometimes, you have to leave to go home. Or come home to leave. Thankfully, the winter of my homecoming last year has not been repeated. Chicago is bright and cool and BRISK. The skies are stunningly, vividly blue. I’ve worn my boots just once. And my down coat — its buttons lost somewhere between last year and this year — also just once. Everything is lovely, but it makes me feel like we are on the cusp of something. On the cusp of something big. Something huge. Something terrible.

I am frightened.

So, um, I’ll just keep going out to eat then. Here’s where I’ve been lately:

Boiler Room, 2210 N California Ave: I loved the vibe of Boiler Room. I loved the loos. (Chicago Transit doors and, even, sound effects.) I loved the beer selection and I thought our service was pretty good too. But the pizza? Undercooked, and while at least the pepperoni had some taste to it, The Purist (mozzarella, basil, balsamic reduction) was pretty tasteless. The Verdict: Meh. So much promise, but not fully realized.

The Boiler Room on Urbanspoon

Keefer’s, 20 W Kinzie: My NY Strip Steak was good. The creamed spinach was good. The potato croquettes were excellent. But our server took FOREVER to take our order, and then he claimed we didn’t order calamari to start (we did) and then at some point, a fist fight broke out between other tables. ??? Oh, and I should mention that my friend who made the reservation is a very dependable, reliable person and I was there when she called Keefer’s and booked the table. Upon arrival, they had no record of our booking. They worked things out which was good of them, but still all very odd. Oh!! And then, when the bill came, we asked for it to be divided up amongst credit cards and that was one of the most complicated conversations I’ve ever had, for what was a basic math thing. The Verdict: I’d go somewhere else before I went back here, but I did like the vibe of the room with the radios in it.

Keefer's on Urbanspoon

Nori, 954 W Diversey: I dropped in here for a quick dinner after getting a haircut at Salon Blue on Sheffield, a place I’ve been going to since 1998! (Go see Amy. Tell her Krista sent you. Funnily, Chicago Food Snob has been going to Amy forever too!) Amazing. Anyhow, obviously Penny’s isn’t doing as well as it used to because this used to be part of Penny’s next door. I sat at the bar and had the Red Nori (spicy tuna, spicy shrimp, and avocado covered with tempura crumbs, red tobiko, and unagi sauce) and it was pretty enjoyable. But then I had the Crunchy Spicy Tuna maki and it was so depressing, it made me cry. There was no crunch. It was like they forgot a step. Roll the maki in raw tempura crumbs and…sigh. The Verdict: OK. Not great. I will keep searching.

NORI Neighborhood BYOB Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Roka Akor, 11 W Illinois. I dropped in here for lunch with some colleagues this past Wednesday during Restaurant Week. The restaurant was curiously empty. Apparently, no one in The Loop wants to go north of the river, because Petterino’s is freaking PACKED every single afternoon. And Petterino’s is just good. And not as vibe-y as Roka Akor. Fascinating. Well, I had the restaurant week special and although I thought the Wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings were pretty luscious, the rest of the meal — the butterfish roll and the barbecued pork loin — were uninspiring. At $22 though, this was a very good value. The Verdict: Good. And the bar area seems good for solo dining.

Roka Akor on Urbanspoon

So there we are. Some recent tries in Chicago. Until next time! Let’s hope it doesn’t snow like crazy in between.

Posted in American, Chicago, Italian, Japanese, Lakeview, Logan Square, Pan-Asian, River North, United States | 1 Comment

Where I’ve Been Eating, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on January 4, 2012

 Winter is upon us here in Chicago. And I’m not happy about that. As I write this, it’s 22 Fahrenheit outside. That’s -5 Celsius for the rest of you. Yes. No fun. So I’m heading to South America. Seriously. But in preparation for my departure, I’ve been eating where and when I can. Here’s the latest…

Vera: First stop, Vera in the West Loop. I like Vera for the sherry alone. Americans don’t drink enough sherry. So I’ve been drinking enough to make up for the rest of you, but you really do need to get on this and widen your drinking horizons. While we were at Vera, we settled in for mixed platters of meats and cheeses. My favorite dish of the evening though had to be the anchovies. I don’t know what it is about me and anchovies lately, but I just can’t get enough. I’ll be back here to sample more of the menu, as we were only there for sherry and snacks. The Verdict: Recommended for the sherry selection and the very nice Spanish menu.

Vera Chicago on Urbanspoon

Slurping Turtle: I dropped in here on a Friday afternoon…I think it was their first week of business. Well, that will teach me because I totally suffered the consequences. Service was ridiculously, abysmally slow. (All my American romanticizing about service in America while I was living abroad? I’ve yet to have my expectations MET…forget about having them exceeded. America, what has happened to you???) Service aside, my Yuke Tataki of beef tartar, spicy chili paste, sesame oil, and quail egg was pretty awesome. The pork belly snack was also pretty great. The Verdict: Recommended for interesting Japanese food and communal seating/solo dining.

Slurping Turtle on Urbanspoon

Jerry’s: I ended up working from home one day for some reason or another and was going a little stir crazy so I needed to get out of the house for lunch. I discovered that there’s barely ANYTHING open on Division in Wicker Park during lunch so I found myself at Jerry’s, which was fine because I wanted a salad anyhow. Jerry’s is very low-key. I liked that. I also liked that they made their own sodas on the premises, so I had something lovely with lime and ginger. Then I ordered a salad, which actually came with a side. (!!!) So I had some creamed spinach. This was all very acceptable, although the service — yet again — was pretty poor. I had no idea where the guy was half the time. Maybe he was in the back making soda. The Verdict: Not a destination, but a good place for lunch.

Jerry's Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

So…that’s three places I’ve been recently. How about you? Been anywhere good recently?

Posted in American, Chicago, Japanese, River North, Spanish, United States, West Loop, Wicker Park | Comments Off

Where I’ve Been Eating, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on November 23, 2011

Rootstock Soup

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.

Rootstock Wine and Beer Bar on Urbanspoon

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.

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

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.

Rudy’s Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Bar Food, Chicago, Humboldt Park, Loop, Mexican, River North, United States, Wine | Comments Off

I Love GT Fish & Oyster

Posted by Krista on October 31, 2011

I remember once ages ago, I posted my Top 10 Meals in Year X. A friend (I believe it was this one)  kindly pointed out that I must have some sort of seafood fetish because a disproportionate number of dishes in my Top 10 were all seafood.

I’m from the East Coast. What can I say?

I grew up on baked clams, fried calamari, and freshly caught snapper, caught with my own bamboo pole. My brother and I used to catch our own blue claw crabs along the shore at my aunt and uncle’s house in Rhode Island. (This activity was known locally as “chicken neckin'” as you would ask the butcher for whatever scraps of chicken he was willing to give away. The necks it was. ) My mother is infamous for her salmon and broccoli…a simple dish, but she does it so extraordinarily well that it is a regular request from the relatives.

So yes, I like seafood.

Probably no surprise that I love GT Fish & Oyster then. I’ve been twice…once with my cousin George, once all by my lonesome. GT is good for the solo diner because you can eat at the bar. Easily so. I like that.

Lovely meals, both times.

Especially the Tuna Poke…mango, cucumber, and black sesame. Lovely.

Also lovely…the chili crab pasta. I would go back for this dish and eat it again and again and again.

Also nice…the fish tacos. I had these on my first visit. The visit where I discovered my cousin George doesn’t like oysters. Not like oysters?? SACRILEGE.

The Verdict: I like GT Fish & Oyster. I’ll be back.

GT Fish & Oyster on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chicago, River North, Seafood, United States | Comments Off