Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pork Shoppe

Chicago is undergoing a barbecue boom and I am thrilled to try and discover new great BBQ spots. Unfortunately, Pork Shoppe is not one of them. They did some things I liked, but more that I did not. The concept is cool but lacking in execution. My favorite was the beef brisket taco, served with onion, lettuce and cilantro. The meat was great and the flavors all came together. I also enjoyed the mac 'n cheese side dish, served in a small tin, baked with bread crumbs and lots of the cheese. The disappointments were the pulled chicken and pulled pork sandwich, but more generally the sauce selection and value.




Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free Lunch Today at ROTI

Roti Mediterranean Grill is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a free lunch day benefiting Common Threads. Stop by between 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (at the Adams St. location only!) to eat well and make a contribution to a leading nonprofit organization that educates children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being. For the love of cooking and children, Roti will give all proceeds raised during Free Lunch Day to Common Threads. Roti’s Free Lunch Day menu includes Roti sandwiches, salads or Mediterranean plates and a fountain drink.

For more information on Common Threads please visit www.commonthreads.org.
Roti website at www.roti.com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Emperor's Choice

Chicago's Chinatown is one of the best culinary assets of our city. If you have never been, please do so even if just to walk the streets. I've enjoyed regular family dinners in Chinatown ever since I can remember. There are two places we always visited, Emperor's Choice and The Phoenix. Since it had been an unusually long time between Chinatown visits, we made Emperor's Choice the destination for dinner with Erica and her her mother Jean.

I could end the review now and simply say if you want great Chinese food go to Chinatown and enjoy. We all have our favorite spots and our favorite dishes, but now you can see mine.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Than Just (HOT) Chocolate

I'm jealous Mish and Doug have experienced Hot Chocolate. It's been on my list for a long time and have no good reason for not making a trip. Here is a quick rundown on HC from Mish Goldstein:

(Mindy's) Hot Chocolate, a charming and hip (yet cozy), cutting edge (yet old school), reasonably priced (while being decadent) Wicker Park restaurant. Despite the name, don't be fooled. This venue is SO much more than a small town bake shop (although with 4 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Nominations for owner Mindy Segal, how could you not think that upon first glance).

In desperate need of a glass of wine & a nice meal with the boyfriend, we ventured to Hot Chocolate on Damen (across from the Dailey Method Studio & Marc by Marc Jacobs, possibly my two most favorite places all consolidated into a 2 story store front! Woo!), where we have been multiple times. This venue delivers excellent service and a non-fussy straightforward menu with ridiculously lip smacking flavors that are absolutely one of a kind.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Thai! - Ann Arbor

One of the best things that happened senior year of college was that a great Thai quick serve spot opened up down the street from our house. Every time I go back for a football game I try to make a stop at No Thai, but I am only successful once or twice a season. This past weekend Erica and I were driving through town during lunch time so I requested a quick thai meal at my favorite spot. Four years later I am not surprised that they still serve one of the best noodle dishes I have ever had. My go to is the drunken noodles, but the pad siew or pad thai are both delicious. If you like it spicy they can help you, as I only go with medium spice and still sweat while I eat. Whatever their magic formula is still working and I wish they could bring it to Chicago. Even the Pad Thai Queen herself gives No Thai! the two thumbs up. Until next time...



No Thai! on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jam

About a year ago Julia Kramer (of TOC) said that Jam was "Only the best thing to happen to brunch in a long time." With a strong following and great food, this BYO, cash only store-front in Ukrainian village decided to expand to include dinner. When dining buddies Geoff and Ashley suggested dinner at Jam to honor Geoff's birthday, I was thrilled to experience what everyone else had been talking about.

The dinner menu is quite simple with two main choices: a tasting menu of four or five courses, or seven a la carte items. I'm never one to shy away from a well prepared tasting menu and went with all five courses for $37. Ashley joined me with five courses while Geoff and Erica chose the $25 four course option. I appreciated their ability to be flexible with different lengths at one table, and even offered us to mix and match if someone preferred a la carte. Consumer flexibility and service is always appreciated. We had a great meal with friendly service at very compelling value (it helps when you bring your own wine). Total bill with tax and tip came to $160 for four people. We did not walk out stuffed, but pleasantly full from a good meal.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is On Fire! (Zed 451)

Shout out to any New Trier Trevian out there who remembers chanting "the roof is on fire" during football games or basketball games. Speaking of the roof, let's talk about my experience Tuesday night at Zed 451. We ventured to that location for a work party to celebrate launching new web pages for our company, by consuming large quantities of alcohol. I have always been extremely impressed with the rooftop at this venue, and would highly recommend it to anyone searching for a good party location with a group of anywhere from 20 people to 40 people. We were lucky enough to pick a night where it was supposed to rain but fortunately it only sprinkled for 2 minutes and then stopped. Transportation from our place of work to the happy hour was an easy feat, given that free shuttles were provided and one was waiting outside our building at 20 S Wacker. It was early (which was nice) so Type A Mish was happy. If anyone has seen ridiculous looking black painted shuttles with meats and fire on them, it would certainly be a Zed 451 bus. Not as bad as the Brazzaz outdoor billboard advertisements with Ozzie on them holding meat skewers, but it's still on the medal stand. I must say that, although borderline unnecessary, those darn things certainly help to publicize the restaurant.

Our event planner for the evening (who was wearing a low cut champagne colored crop top at 11:30am when my co-worker and I made our way over there to explore and reserve the space-well done) explained that customer typically start their evening with a choice of salads, soups, charcuterie, and breads from their "Harvest Tables." Shortly following, the entire table of people will receive an unlimited sampling of Zed 451 signature dishes (fire-grilled over charcoal). Obviously that's not exactly what our experience was with 30+ people on the roof Eastern area, but we did enjoy a sampling of a multitude of dishes. I couldn't blog about them at the time, considering that I was soo hungover I didn't really even remember walking home from the blue line, seeing a co-worker on the blue line (or taking the blue line in general--what other person, aside from a penny pinching Jew, would decide to take public transportation from a work party after 6+ glasses of wine?).

Our Menu:
Goat Cheese Flat Bread
Veggie Flat Bread
Meats and Cheeses (the Goat Brie was amazing)
Mini Crab Cake Sandwiches
Mini Veggie Burger Sliders
Mini Steak Sliders with Caramelized Onions
Fried Lobster Bites
Marinated Figs
Apricot Brie Yummies
Corn Salsa Crackers
Veggie Flat Bread
Mango Chutney
Mini Cupcakes (Red Velvet was the best)
Mini S'More bites

Here is the link to the Zed 451 Blog.
Here is the link to the Zed 451 Entertaining Floor Plan(s).


Cheers (and my advise is to not take public transportation home after visiting this venue).
Mish
lifewithmish.blogspot.com

Friday, September 17, 2010

Girl And The Goat

Last night Erica and I showed up for our reservation that was secured over two weeks ago. This place is the definition of hot and buzz worthy. While we enjoyed our meal and experience, there were definitely some aspects that did not "wow" me. I loved the decor and layout, the menu and the service. Everything I've read about Stephanie Izzard suggests the food presented was a direct extension of her personality - bold, fun and complex. Of of the five dishes we ordered, one was sent back, one was great, and three were just good. Everyone that raves about G&G might find the food good value, but from our experience last night I'm still on the fence. The drink and beer list is fantastic and I think the menu is creative and fun, especially the daily changes. I wouldn't rush back to eat the food because it's not my style, but there's no doubt about the talent and effort that goes into each and every dish.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lured by the Folk.

In an attempt to expand "I Like to Eat's" ability to cover the Chicago food scene I've asked for help from other knowledgeable food consumers. I would like to introduce our second guest blogger, a wickedly funny, dear old friend of mine, Michelle Goldstien. Mish (as we affectionately call her) and her boyfriend Doug are two of the most active food connoisseur and know where to find great meals. Mish also loves to home-cook and post her recipes on her blog. Welcome Mish to the "I Like to Eat" world, and enjoy her hilarious takes on life and food.

We were tempted to see if Folklore (in Wicker Park) could hold its ground against sister restaurant Tango Sur (in Lakeview), considering the two have the same owner. A bit skeptical that it wasn't BYOB (like Tango Sur), we headed to this Division street restaurant last night for a dinner with an out of town friend. I'm happy to report that our overall experience was positive. However, I will definitely continue to view Folklore as the little sibling of Tango Sur (I'll elaborate more below), as there were just a few ways it fell short (all smaller things that can certainly be made up through experience).

Smoky Mountain Brewery

The last stop on our road trip before heading home was in Gatlinburg, TN after hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We were hungry and sore and could use some good food and drink. I've found brew-pubs are usually a safe bet in foreign towns for good drink and food.

Smoky Mountain certainly pours very tasty and well made beer as well decent food. The value was incredible and there were no complaints with the friendly and attentive service.

I sampled four of the beers on tap: Windy Gap Wheat, Mountain Light, Cherokee Red Ale and Thunder Road. The season Wheat was my favorite followed by the very light and crisp Mountain Light. We shared a pretzel basket for starters and ordered a salad and ribs for a main course. Either our eyes were larger than our stomach or portions are skewed in Gatlinburg because we ordered conservatively but a lot of food arrived.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

C-House's Best of the Midwest Beer Menu

A chef and restaurant after my own heart, great food and great beer all in one meal. Through the end of the month C-House is offering a $39 Three Course Prix Fixe Dinner Menu as the perfect way to enjoy the last days of summer. 

The three course menu features inspired seasonal cuisine and craft brews from the Midwest’s best breweries. Executive Chef Nicole Pederson has a unique pairing menu. Starting with the the first course, you choose from Steamed Mussels and Littleneck Clams with grilled bread, root vegetables, espelette aioli and spiced Matilda broth paired with Goose Island’s Matilda. The main course will be a choice of Braised Chicken Cannelloni with sourdough toast and pate or Sweet and Sour Pork Belly with a farro salad - paired with Founders Red’s Rye PA. 

For dessert, Pastry Chef Toni Roberts has put a creative spin on the Black and Tan. Chef Toni has crafted a Butterscotch Panna Cotta and Moloko Stout gelee with pecan sandies to create her own version of the popular cockatil. Try this final course with Three Floyds Moloko Stout, a great complement to the Black and Tan.

C-House is located at 166 East Superior, at the Affinia Chicago hotel
call 312.523.0923 or visit www.c-houserestaurant.com for more info.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gilt Bar part 87

[Quick Update 9/24/10: Last night's meal featured more great dishes from the menu highlighted by the steak tartare. If you haven't tried this yet you are missing out. Not only is the meat delicious, but the dijonaise sauce is unbelievable. We also had some of my personal favorites, the blackened cauliflower and burrata. I tried the roasted garlic for the first time and wasn't thrilled. I prefer a garlic dish to reek of wonderful garlic and make your breath stink for days. This was not that dish. I know I sound like a broken record praising Gilt, but I have a hard time finding people that disagree.]

I'm not exaggerating, I've been to Gilt more times than I can count, which only speaks to how much I enjoy myself there. I can safely report that even after seven months of operations, the quality of the food and experience are top notch.

One of the reasons I seek out new restaurants is that I enjoy new and different flavors. The only downside to repeat visits to favorite places is that you get stuck in a groove of what you like. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially after some time apart, just something I am all too aware of. Last night fit that mold to a T because it had been a while since my last visit. I ordered my favorite drink(s), an Old Fashioned and Hoffman's of PBR, the creamy and delicious burrata, shaved spring vegetables, the can't-put-them-down fries and two pasta dishes (rigatoni with rabbit confit and the ricotta gnocchi). The night cap was carrot cake.

Chicago Gourmet Preview TwEAT-up

In case you missed my tweets yesterday, Whole Foods hosted a preview of Chicago Gourmet with Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate and Debbi Peek from The Bristol. They presented two food/drink pairings for us to sample and showed us how it was done. The first was an amazing brioche by Mindy paired with bacon infused bourbon/cider, and the second was a toffe and s'more treat paired with a cafe breve (cognac, espresso, heavy cream and brown sugar, topped with a Stout).

It was a lot of fun to see them perform their magic in person, as well taste those delicious treats.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yard House

This continues part II of the suburban tour at a place filled with old memories (even though The Glen is relatively new). I went to the Yard to meet an old friend and his wife for drinks and food the other week to catch up after a hectic summer. It's an appropriate location since they live in the northwest suburbs and I'm coming from the city. It also happens to be the location where many nights have been spent swapping stories on vacation holidays during the college years. The suburbs are not know for having "bars" to hang out at, so the Yard House become a de-factor hang out whenever we returned from school. Because everyone's schedule allowed, we were able to meet early enough to take advantage of happy-hour - 50% off most appetizers.

We ordered a plethora of drinks and food. If you've never been or heard of the Yard House, they have the most extensive on-tap beer list that I have ever seen (impressive because it's a chain). Everything tasted good and drank well. We were relaxed sitting on their outside patio trading stories and drinking good beer. I don't' know that I've ever been there for a complete "meal," but I'm sure you'd have a good time if you did.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Frank & Betsie's

I feel like I'm a roll with suburban eating; I guess it's good to change the scenery every now and then. I had dinner tonight with my "aunt" Dianne in Glencoe at a cute little French place called Frank and Betsie's. It was a simple meal with the focus on catching up on life and my travels. The food was tasty and a large menu to choose from. The feeling is definitely small suburban french bistro and I can see how it's been around for 15 years. The bread is served nice and warm with butter (I'd prefer olive oil) with a nice wine list. Our entire meal consisted of three items, Dianne's large soup, my Cesar salad starter and trout main dish.

The salad was great and I could have twice as much. My trout was very well cooked and served with sides of rice and a few veggies. The mushroom, Dijon and dill sauce was a perfect compliment of flavors. Our service was very good, even on a slow night and my only complaint would be the value. But I guess the pricing comes with the territory and even then it's not super crazy (three dishes and two glasses of wine for $50).



The outside patio is a huge bonus for the summer and fall seasons, and I'd recommend going there for a nice, quiet meal in the suburbs. There's a good reason Chicago Magazine named it a best restaurant in 1999.

Frank & Betsie's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Does this mean summer is over? I certainly hope not, but I realize football season is underway and that is the epitome of fall. Like most fall weekends I can be found either in Ann Arbor rooting on my Wolverines or somewhere else watching my team. Labor Day weekend is always fun to open the new season with old friends without having to rush home (especially when I was working). This weekend was no exception with a great home opening win and stadium re-dedication ceremony. Sunday we spent sailing on Lake Huron courtesy of Brent with blue skies and strong winds.

Our final meal of the weekend was like most meals of the weekend - beer and pizza. Sunday night in Bay City, MI is not the liveliest of places but we did manage to find the local pizza spot open. G's Pizzeria is the go to spot and we had the place to ourselves at 9:30pm. We ordered a few pitchers, some cheesy bread and everyone went with the famous "pizza pocket." I tried to keep it relatively healthy with the vegetarian, but we all know that's just for show. The food wasn't bad, definitely not great, but nothing says Labor Day and Summer like sailing all day and pizza all night.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, even if summer is winding down, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to fall and winter.



G's Pizzeria & Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lillie's Q

While Jeff was away traveling, Jed and I decided to grab a quick bite to eat in Bucktown. We were craving pizza and had heard great things about Piece; however after the hostess told us it would be an hour and a half wait we decided to look elsewhere. Low and behold right across the street was a huge BBQ sign that looked tempting. After looking at the menu and hearing that it had just opened, we decided to put our name in. It was an absolute beautiful Chicago night so we didn't mind waiting, however I do have to point out that several people were waiting outside while tables were wide open. Only after mentioning this to the hostess did we get seated. Now, on to the food!

The menu is pretty simple. I opted for the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, while Jed chose the pulled tip sandwich. We also ordered a side of mac and cheese and truffle fries which were highly recommended by our server. The bar had a great beer list and the southern girl in me thoroughly enjoyed drinking my beer out of a mason jar. When our food arrived I was surprised to see that the sandwich was plain. Our server quickly explained that they serve it that way so customers can try their 5 sauces conveniently placed on the table. Jed and I tried all 5 and decided that we liked the "Carolina" the best. My pulled pork was very tasty and left me wanting more. Jed however thought his pulled tip sandwich was dry and tough. The truffle fries were excellent, but the mac and cheese left more to be desired.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Lillie's Q BBQ Sauces

All in all it turned out to be a good, cheap meal that left me excited to share this new spot with Jeff. I am hopeful that the next time we return they will have the kinks worked out.

Lillie's Q on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

One of my favorite Chicago meals ever since I can remember has been a deep dish pie from Lou's. It's a childhood memory and just plain good eating. I love good chicago deep dish pizza, but I understand that not everyone feels the same way about pizza "pie" vs. thin crust.

The reason for today's visit was for a good and cheap lunch before heading off to Ann Arbor for some football. In case you didn't know, Lou has a great lunch special from 11-2 for $7.25 that includes a small salad, drink and personal size pizza. And for those of us that always over order (sometimes on purpose for leftovers), the personal size is perfect, especially mid day. That's all I have, great pizza and great value for a mid day meal. I love Lou Malnati's pizza and probably always will.




Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Umi Sake House - Seattle

3Last Sunday Alyssa and I were in Seattle for the night after spending the weekend on Mt. Rainier. We had limited time (and energy) so we found Umi Sake around the corner from where we were staying. Lucky for us the food was great, decor interesting and sake plentiful. Our service was hit and miss and the pricing seemed a bit high, but the food was top notch all around.


We started with and ended with plenty of sake, but for food we went with a round of miso soup, the lobster bake (sauteed lobster with shitake & button mushrooms baked w/ yuzu mayonnaise, pictured) and four pieces of a special maki (salmon from the copper river, AK, pictured top). I stayed away from the lobster but Alyssa and Reeba sent the plate back clean. I traded my portion for an extra bite of the extremely fresh and delicious salmon from Alaska. No soy sauce or wasabi needed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Franks 'N' Dawgs

If there is one food that says "Chicago," it's hot dogs. I've never been one to get all hyped up and excited about hot dogs; I like them and eat them at baseball games and back-yard BBQs. If you're like me and looking for something more than an Oscar Mayer weiner on a bun, please go and experience Franks. I caution though to not fall in the trap of looking at the menu as "dogs," but truly gourmet dishes.

The first thing I noticed inside of Franks was the friendly staff (especially Chef Doren) and inviting decor. The menu is extensive and fascinating. You can choose from classic dawgs, dawgs gone wild, dawgs gone global, or haute dawgs. Some of the meats are prepared in house, and noted on the menu, while others are bought locally but in consultation with Franks. You can't go wrong either way, all the meats I'm sure are fantastic.

For my meal I chose a duck-based "dawg" served with pineapple chutney, carrots, cilantro and other flavors I can't remember. Erica prefers simpler dogs and opted for the Cheese Head: Sheboygan, caramelized onions, grilled portabellos and smoked gouda. We ordered a side of cheesy fries for good measure.




The food quality here is the real deal. Chef Doren is clearly talented and chooses to display this on buns instead of plates. It's a great concept and well executed. With a patio and a BYOB option, I can see this being a great date place, and something to return to often with such a diverse menu. The pricing could turn some people off ($20 for two dogs and fries), but comparable to similar venues and par for the course. If you can just accept that gourmet food CAN be served on a bun, every dollar is justified. I highly recommend checking out the Dawgs and I know I'll go back to see what other interesting flavors are crafted a la bun.


Franks 'N' Dawgs on Urbanspoon

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