Posted by Krista on January 2, 2013
I was hungry. I was hungover. So I did it. I went to Harold’s. And I have no regrets about the chicken. The fries, maybe. But the chicken, NO.
I don’t know what they do to it. Some sort of breading. Some sort of deliciousness. Some sort of breaded delicious perfection. Some sort of MIRACLE HANGOVER CURE. That being said, the place is a shit hole. (Shithole?) Water dripping from the ceiling, ripped up stools, recycling that hasn’t been emptied for months. You know what I mean.
The guy at the counter did have some nice things to say about my eyes though. And he gave me some free fried catfish, which was AWESOME. You can love my eyes and give me free catfish anytime you want, mister.
The Verdict: If you are hungover and if you want to eat some chicken, you should order from here. Do not eat in; it is gross. And remember, quality takes time. These guys fresh fry everything. It will take time. A lot of time. Bring a newspaper. Or your iPhone. Or something.
Posted in American, Chicago, United States, Wicker Park | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on November 25, 2012
Four very good restaurants in Chicago! All in a short time period. Amazing! Imagine me, doing a happy dance. Actually, don’t. That’s embarrassing. Now if only it was all just so much CHEAPER. Then you can imagine me dancing. Because really, Chicago, you are not as cheap as I thought you were. Listed roughly in order of deliciousness…
Carriage House, 1700 West Division: Like it so much, I’ve been here three times already. I love the Lyonnaise Salad, with its soft pillows of pork belly and salty, vinegary dressing in particular. It reminds me a lot of Yardbird in Miami Beach though, which is a bit weird. (Still haven’t written up my Miami trip. Sorry!) Either the design aesthetic is just an overall trend or Southern food is just an overall trend or something else is going on?? Anyhow, I don’t care really because it’s great to have a nice new spot in the neighborhood. Verdict: Go.
Au Cheval: 800 West Randolph. LOVE IT HERE. It reminds me of London. Not surprising after I figured out that they are part of Soho House. It was the Cowshed products in the ladies’ that gave it away. I saw the Cowshed and I actually teared up in the ladies’ room. It was all a little awkward, really. I’ve been back multiple times to have the bone marrow at the bar. Because that’s what I like to do, wander around town and eat bone marrow. The burger is pretty ace as well. Verdict: Go, but be mindful that they do not take reservations, so go early or late and do not take 12 people with you.
Trencherman: 2039 West North: I also love it here, although the food was best on my first visit. (That being said, on that first visit, it was my food — the short rib — that was great. My friend Amy’s pasta was so plain and boring, it was painful.) What I really like most about Trencherman is the bar. I like to just show up and eat at the bar. Sometimes, I massage the old white subway tile. My chicken thighs and grits just last week were very, very good. The Verdict: Great addition to the neighborhood. Go.
Grassfed, 1721 North Damen: My mother always told me never to buy white furniture. Grassfed has apparently never met my mother. For $25 for steak, frites, salad, and a huge chunk of garlic bread, this is a very good value. And a tasty one at that. I’d go again. The Verdict: If you, like me, like focused menus, go. If light hurts your eyes, stay away. So for example, I would never willingly choose Grassfed for a first, second, or third date. You don’t get to see my crows’ feet until much later, you know.
I’ve had some “meh” meals too lately. More about that in a later post. And hey, that picture above? It’s from the new Walgreen’s at North, Milwaukee and Damen. It’s in a old bank. So that’s cool.
Posted in American, Bucktown, Chicago, United States, Very British, West Loop, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on October 1, 2012
I like gyros. 1994: me, Santorini, a moped, and $1 gyros for every meal. Good memories. (Bad memories: the ferry from Corfu to Santorini and the terrible chop and my terrible seasickness.) I like gyros so much, I can forgive a Chipotle knock-off. Because that’s what Covo, the new Greek fast food place in Wicker Park, is. A total and complete knock-off of a certain salty and popular Mexican assembly-line burrito chain. (Roti, the Mediterranean chain, also falls into this category, but their menu is a bit larger so it’s different. Sort of.) I mean honestly, it’s like Covo is NOT EVEN TRYING TO HIDE IT.
I can forgive Covo the Copycat because I’ve been jonesing for a gyro these last few months. Covo is cheap, it’s fast, it’s pretty good, and they use an iPad for their cash register. Oh, and they use Square Up for transactions, so you don’t need to be carrying around a wallet full of those pesky “Buy 10 get one free” cards. And, well, I kinda want to steal their lighting. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
Oh–and the sparkling white wine they have on offer! Now that’s new and different!
The Verdict: Good. Get the wine! Covet the lighting.
Posted in Chicago, Greek, United States, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on September 27, 2012
I’ve been eating a lot of tacos lately.
A lot. (Non sequitor: Two words, people. TWO WORDS.)
And especially, the fish tacos at Antique Taco in Chicago. OK, sure, Antique Taco is a little hipster. But I TOTALLY want to steal all their cloth napkins. Like all of them.
Yo, it’s the fish tacos. With spicy, creamy tartar. I want corn tortillas, not flour. But this particular over-aging hipster, she can deal.
Corn salad!!! Corn salad, corn salad. This is the type of dish that makes me feel slothy. Because shurely I could make this. But I don’t. So I go to Antique Taco once a week and I eat it there. And I give thanks.
And contemplate and stare at their napkins. Like really, literally stare.
The Verdict: Go, you little hipster you! Go!
Posted in Chicago, Mexican, United States, Wicker Park | 5 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 9, 2012
I’ll admit it. I was afraid. I’ve been afraid of Podhalanka since I first moved to Wicker Park. Let’s face it, it looks a little sketchy from the outside, doesn’t it? Would you really want to eat here?
But then go inside and see this! Lacey tablecloths. Fairy lights. Van Gogh posters.
And then there behind the bar, there’s homemade who knows what, post cards, and little knickknacks. It didn’t take much for me to fall in love. It was like being in Grandma’s house. Maybe Grandpa’s basement. Love.
Also love: the homemade mystery juice. I asked if it was apple? No. Pear? No. Plum? No. They honestly wouldn’t tell me, but they did say they make it themselves. (Yelp suggests it’s prune juice, which might be why they didn’t want to tell me. But a prune is a plum so I don’t know.)
And the cabbage soup? At just $3.50 a BOWL, with four slices of bread, it’s a tremendously hearty delicious value. (My medium soup at Au Bon Pain always seems to come in at $4.43, and it’s a smaller portion, it’s not as good, and it doesn’t come with four slices of bread.) New favorite routine? Come home from work and head to Podhlanka for a bowl of soup and the nightly news.
And then for the heck of it during my first visit, because I was having such a good time, I ordered up a plate of latkes. Four arrived — two too many for me — so I practiced a random act of kindness and gave two of them to the guy next to me. But after I gave them away, I became tremendously sad because these were, honestly, so so good and I kinda wanted the extras back, but we have a politically incorrect phrase for that in my language. Perfectly cooked and crispy and fresh oil, not old oil. Their only fault was they could have used a pinch of salt, but that was easily remedied.
The Verdict: I love Podhalanka. Love it. Love it. Love it.
Posted in Chicago, Noble Square, Polish, United States, Wicker Park | 2 Comments
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.
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.
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.
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
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 19, 2011
We organised a rather informal Tweet-up in Wicker Park tonight. At Taxim. I had stopped by Taxim a few weekends ago, just for a look at their wine list. It was interesting. And different. And all Greek. Never seen an all-Greek wine list before.
Tonight’s meal was as intriguing as the wine list. The okra…unbelievably hearty for a vegetable dish. The pork loin…so light for something which could be so porky.
What hurt me though is that I am convinced that people in Wicker Park only drink coffee. And eat tacos. (Or pizza.) Because Taxim is such an amazingly lovely neighbourhood restaurant. And where’s the neighbourhood? Not here.
Taxim makes me want to update my blog more…to convince Chicago there’s more to life than (American) football and your 52 inch TV and getting pizza delivered on a cold and rainy night.
Really…what happened to going out to dinner? What happened to talking to people? (Talking, not shouting. I’m looking at you, Paris Club.)
Maybe we all should get out more. Maybe we should all go to Taxim.
Posted in Chicago, Greek, United States, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on October 9, 2011
Ruxbin, Ukrainian Village. I finally went to Ruxbin. Yes, it’s right down the street from me and I’d never been. But Shanna Quinn was good enough to prompt me out of my rut. (Take-out Chinese, the exercise bike…not together, but you get the point.) We were the second to arrive on a Thursday evening, and we were granted a sunnny table by the window. For what was to be a lovely, lovely meal. Starters of flat bread and calamari were generous portions, but still amazingly light. Allowing much space for the beefy goodness of what was to come. Hanger steak and chimchurri don’t come much better than here. You know if I eat my leftovers for breakfast, that’s an excellent sign. I liked it here. The no-bookings policy irks me a bit because it is so close and I do want to go often, but the advance-planning…I become less of an advance-planner as I get older. The Verdict: In short, go. Photos over here on my Facebook fan page. Note: Don’t be scared when you go to the bathroom. No one can get in. Really.
Prasino, Wicker Park. I enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch here with my friends Irina and Mohan a couple of weekends ago. The place is HUGE. It’s a pretty space, but the type of space I expect to be all scuffed-up and worn looking within the year. Is that bad of me? Yes. But seriously…how will they afford the upkeep? I had the roasted turkey club with turkey, bacon, swiss, arugula, tomato, avocado, and Parmesan aioli on a pretzel croissant. It was fine. It was just messy to eat, and I had one of those “America, this is why you’re fat” moments. And then our server took forever to do anything remotely server-like, and I was disappointed. The Verdict: Good, not great. But the outdoor seating on a nice day is ace.
Blue 13, River North. (Well, sort of River North, because it’s like close to the expressway.) My old grad-school friend Holly and I had a good catch-up here over lobster pizza and pork chops. Firstly, it’s a nice space but by the end of the night, I couldn’t hear myself think. And it’s not a bar. It just has terribly poor acoustics. Also, the tables are very close together. I don’t mind this in France because, well, it’s France. But going to the bathroom at Blue 13 if you’re sitting on the banquet side…a chore. Back to the food…the lobster pizza was flabby in the middle. The pork chop was as big as my head…tasty but BIG. I ate it for THREE DAYS afterwards. Do I need to say it one more time…America, this is why… The Verdict: Good.
What next…GT Fish & Oyster, I go to Mexico, and then I go to the richest country in the world. The country that’s going to own our asses soon. If they don’t already. Qatar. Amazing.
Posted in American, Chicago, River North, Ukrainian Village, United States, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on September 5, 2011
Ooh, I’m way behind. I blame the airlines. And Design Star on HGTV. And my cousin George, who was in town for all of six days and managed to completely redecorate my apartment, rearrange my kitchen cabinets, and fix anything and everything that has bugged me since I moved into this damn place nearly exactly a year ago. (Who knew the top rack of my dishwasher was adjustable?) Exhausting, all of it.
I tried to entertain George food-wise, but here’s what I learned: he’s a picky eater. He likes Red Bull. And cookies. And pretzels. And could happily survive on all that for breakfast and lunch. I think he also likes Chinese food, but I denied him his second take-out in the hopes I could convince him to go to Ruxbin. Denied. More in a bit.
Paris Club, River North: I made reservations ages in advance at Paris Club, and the charcuterie — for two — was pretty damn amazing. However, it should have been labeled “For two very large Americans” or “For four plus-sized French people” because it was really way too much food even for our table of four to do justice to. Our server was fantastic: I spilled a glass of wine all over myself (Long Island girl, talking with her hands) and he brought me a replacement glass, no problem.The atmosphere at Paris Club is very lively, but in a ”What? What did you say??” kind of way. Finally to the food…my ahi tuna main dish was pretty disappointing. Too salty.
I’ve been thinking about salt lately and have to list it out as one of the main differences between eating in the US vs. eating in the UK. Everything in the US is sooo disgustingly salty. And we wonder why we have high blood pressure. (I’d also say it’s because we don’t walk enough.)
Randomly…I went to use the ladies’ room at Paris Club on the main floor and there were six girls in line. For one toilet. Good times. About 10 minutes in, a staff member told us that there were more loos downstairs, but by that point I was next. I ended up using the men’s room, and you know what that’s like. The Verdict: Out. There are things I want to like, but that salty main dish was just too much. Oh, and my cousin George would like you to know that he and my friend Matt were two of the only men in the dining room at 8 pm on a Friday night. Odd.
Gilt Bar, River North: I went to Gilt Bar nearly exactly a year ago when I first arrived back in Chicago, but for some reason never wrote about it. Although I would like it better if I could see my hand in front of my face while I’m eating (flashlight, anyone?), I do love the food here. My truffle pasta was the dish that kept getting passed around the table. I also really like the music at Gilt Bar; they played The XX, only one of my fave albums of 2010. (OK, OK it came out in 2009 but still.) Great cocktail bar downstairs…all very chill and mellow.
Feast, Bucktown: I asked my cousin what he likes to eat for breakfast. He says — and I quote –”I’m not really a breakfast person.” You can guess where this is going. Every morning, I would wake up, make breakfast for myself, eat it, and then he would say, “What are we doing for breakfast?” Ahem. As we were up abysmally early on Saturday, so I thought we’d try for The Bongo Room. Let me point out two things. It was Saturday — not Sunday — and we arrived at 9:15 am. 9:15! They had been open 15 minutes!! And told us that we’d have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a table. 30 to 45 minutes! So we went to Feast instead and had some pretty luscious peach and blueberry challah French toast. This place totally needs a lick of paint and our table was too wobbly for its own good, but those are minor quibbles in the face of a breakfast this nice.
The Boundary, Wicker Park: George wanted to eat outside, so I pulled up along Division and suggested Prasino. He ix-nayed it because it “looked too healthy” so instead we made our way to The Boundary, where we watched the cars go by as we snacked on some burgers and tomato soup. Everything was fine here. PS Did you know there are no parking meters on the main stretch of Division? (OK, not meters but that green machine ticket-y thing. You know what I’m talking about.)
Pizza Metro II: I wanted to go to Ruxbin. George wanted Chinese. We compromised on pizza because I wanted a salad. Hah! This place is more a take-out place than anything else. We brought home our 1/2 potato (him) and 1/2 pepperoni (me) pizza, along with my salad, and enjoyed it in front of HGTV. George said, “Yeah, this wasn’t really that great.” I would concur. Fine, nothing special. Could have used a better more bubbly crust.
I have more coming up…Blue 13, GT Fish & Oyster, Prasino, and um I decided to go to London for the weekend last week so there’s that too. Brace yourselves.
Posted in American, Brunch, Bucktown, Burgers, Chicago, French, Italian, Modern European, United States, Wicker Park | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on August 12, 2011
August in Chicago. It’s been a year since my repatriation. Scary stuff, this time-flies business. I forget how HOT Chicago can be. The British person inside of me is melting. And I don’t have the clothing for this sort of weather. Retail therapy in order, then. Here’s how I’ve been amusing myself so far this month…
Fritz Pastry, 1408 W Diversey, Lakeview: I dropped in for some of their macarons on the way to a Girls’ Night In up in Edgewater. These were disappointing, when compared to the macarons at Alliance. Too big. Too fluffy. Too sweet. Missing all the delicate loveliness of a macaron.
Shine, 756 W. Webster, Lincoln Park: I dropped in here for lunch during WordCamp and was terribly disappointed. My chicken stir fry used the cheapest, most terrible chicken. You know the type…the type that’s all injected with weird fluids.
Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, West Loop: My friend David took me along to Sepia for the opening of their private event space. I served as photographer’s assistant briefly as he did his thing and took all sorts of lovely photographs. Then I helped myself to some of the lovely terrines and charcuterie. Sepia’s new event space seems like a lovely spot to hold a party.
Bar Bar Black Sheep, 1415 N. Milwaukee, Wicker Park. My friend Amy and I popped in here the other night for a good old-fashioned catch-up. She was lured by the prospect of complimentary bacon with everything. I was lured by the proximity to my apartment. We shared a chicken schnitzel sandwich, which was just okay. And some truffled mac & cheese, which Amy liked but I thought was a bit wet. Then we somehow found ourselves with the Trio of Bacon, which I honestly couldn’t touch, so rich and dense was it. Service at the bar and then outside on the patio was particularly nice throughout our meal though, which was good.
I think with this post, I am fully caught up to date. A good feeling!
Posted in Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, United States, West Loop, Wicker Park | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on July 31, 2011
Least favorite question? What’s your favorite restaurant. I hate it. Because you know what? I don’t have one in Chicago. (Yet?) I’ve yet to walk into a place here where I can say to myself, “Oh now here…I’d eat here all the time.” But I did walk into Mana Food Bar on Division the other weekend and think…”Ah, now this is interesting.” I liked the decor. I liked the smallness. Chicago doesn’t do SMALL so it’s refreshing to be in a place with only about 24 covers where the server can’t possibly ignore you.
The only factor preventing Mana Food Bar from being a true favorite? Sigh…it’s vegetarian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I like a little pork belly now and then.
Yup, no meat on this menu.
The small vegetarian chili was surprisingly hearty. I barely missed the meat. Only complaint? Too small!
Bi Bim Bap is one of my all-time favorite dishes. This too was a surprisingly hefty dish, but I did miss the marinated beef. Still though, I felt virtuous with all this veg inside of me.
At Mana Food Bar, they leave the tap water on the table so you can serve yourself. I like this. A lot! I hate it when servers fill up my water glass every two minutes, even when the glass isn’t anywhere near empty. I want to see more bottled water on the table in Chicago. More.
The Verdict: I really like Mana Food Bar. I’d go back again and again and again some more. (I’d probably have a turkey sandwich for lunch though.)
Posted in American, Chicago, Modern European, Pan-Asian, United States, Wicker Park | 1 Comment