Monday, February 28, 2011

Chicago q

Trying to write a blog post while on a ski trip with the guys is probably foolish. But I have many to write and don't want to get behind. Erica and I went back to q for dinner with one of her old colleagues. I enjoyed my first visit, though the ribs we ordered was my least favorite part. This time around we stayed away from ribs and tried new items. It was a good call as I like the q experience that much more after round 2. As other people have mentioned, an "elegant bbq" place is a perfect compliment to our existing bbq and other "meat" focused venues. The concept is good and well executed, reminding me of walking into a southern country club.

The meal started very well with the table setting in-house pickles and chips. I enjoy a little bourbon with my q and they have quite a selection. They also recently started bourbon flights, a great way to taste some different styles. The presentation of their single glass pours was fantastic. They come on a tray with sides of ice cubes and distilled water, so you can choose the right amount of either.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great Chinese - Update on Szechwan North

Have you even gone out for Chinese and you just can't stop eating? As close friends of mine know, that is a regular occurrence in my family (since we only go for good Chinese food :) As I mentioned in my previous post on Szechwan North, it is our family favorite suburban Chinese restaurant. I was back last weekend for a casual dinner with Dan and Erica, and it was one of our best meals there ever. It appeared that they modernized their menu look and even had new plates. We've always liked the food there, but this meal was great.

We ordered pot stickers to start, followed by kung bao beef, cashew chicken (a dish we normally don't get) and string beans. It is correct to assume that we ordered a lot of food (another family tradition at Chinese restaurants), but since it was so good we were looking forward to leftovers. The only problem with that logic is that you have to actually stop eating in the restaurant to have leftovers. Luckily we did stop eventually, just with much fuller bellies than anticipated.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I finally got around the trying the new hot spot and I picked a good day (President's Day holiday) to avoid the masses. Ever since gw opened (and ever before!) it has received mixed reviews, from critics and yelpers alike. At first, that reduced my rush to wait in line for a $10 (+tax!!) sandwich. While I've only tasted one of the various sandwich options, I was surprised to enjoy it more than I expected. I wish I was with a few other people so I could try more of the menu, but a taste is better than nothing.

I don't have a good reason but I was in a non-meat mood today - thus I ordered the Whitefish sandwich. As the picture shows, it is served on naan bread (making eating a little tricky) with carrots, chutney, nuts and raisins. Since the concept is middle eastern/Indian, all the flavors worked really well. I liked the mix of fish with sweet chutney/raisins and crunchy nuts. The carrots and cilantro add freshness. $10 is a lot to spend on a sandwich but my portion was large. Since they are cash only, I'm a little surprised (and upset) that they charge tax on top of their nice round prices. I thought if you only post round numbers and ask for cash it's to make things fast at the register?

There were other interesting menu items that I would like to try, plenty of sandwich choices (grilled cheese, taco, pork belly, etc), soft serve, breakfast items and such. I don't know if would like them all equally but it'd be worth exploring. The cost is high but I like the concept, and my one small taste was quite good.

Grahamwich on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Restaurant Week Lunch at David Burke's Primehouse

Yesterday we went to David Burke's Primehouse for an impromptu lunch during Restaurant Week. It was definitely last minute, but why not? My friends had already decided so all I had to do was jump on the el. I've become a bit of a cynic when it comes to Restaurant Week, and our meal at db's didn't do much to dispel those feelings. We had a decent lunch, and at $22 for three courses, it's not bad value. But on an absolute level it's still not cheap and my our meal was just ok.

Like all Restaurant Week specials, you get to choose three courses fixe prix. My three courses were surf and turf dumplings (lobster, short rib), steak burger, and pineapple upside-down cake. Other choices included a lobster bisque soup to start, fillet mignon for entree (or salmon or chicken) and a brownie for dessert.

My dumplings starter was interesting, but somewhat uninspiring. The short rib barbecue was on a stick with a crispy coating. I really liked the the spicy asian sauce it came with, but the entire dish was kind of goofy without a lot going on.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines Day Dinner at Rose Angelis

As I mentioned on Monday, Erica and I went to Rose Angelis for a Valentine's Day dinner. We had never been and had only heard good things. What made it even better was the dinner special for two, that included a bottle of prosecco, an appetizer, two salads, two mains and a dessert (all for $75). Unfortunately the value may have been the best part of the evening, besides the company of course, since our food was only so-so. Oh well, it wasn't the first time a neighborhood Italian spot has dissapointed, and since they are still full most nights I guess I'm in the minority.

The place is cute enough, set inside an old house that feels as if they've been there forever. I was surprised how far back it went, and how many seats were actually there. Everyone talks about the romantic charm and feel, but I'd say it just feels quaint and old fashioned. Old does not necessarily mean romantic and charming. Our service was very good and attentive, always filling glasses and removing plates as necessary. The food however was disappointing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day! Back in Town

I don't really enjoy Hallmark Holidays but this one isn't too bad. We get to enjoy a nice and romantic dinner at Rose Angelis, trade cards and eat chocolate. Anyway, enjoy the rest of Cupid's day with whomever makes you happy.

I'm back in town after a week of mountain life on Mt. Rainier. We got lucky with the weather and our entire crew accomplished the rare feat of a winter summit of Rainier. For some of my pictures click HERE.

Since this is supposed to be a food blog I'll throw in a food experience - brunch in Seattle on my way out of town at Lola (funny since there's a Lola in St. Louis that I had brunch at...)

We (Reba, Sandy and I) had a quick breakfast Saturday morning before I had to catch a flight back home. It's a cool and popular spot inside of a hotel right downtown. I also learned that it is apart of the Tom Douglas empire, a well respected and well known local restaurateur (apologies if I should know more...). We didn't waste time ordering, each of us got a hot drink and one dish. Reba and I both chose the pancakes (A stack of golden brown pancakes and pork-maple sausage, vanilla mascarpone, maple syrup) while Sandy went with steel cut oats.

I'm not usually a huge breakfast person, but even after coming off the mountain, this was delicious food. The maple syrup and vanilla marscapone were divine, bordering on desert style sweetness and guilty pleasure. I also loved the sausage links, a perfect complement to the rest of sweetness on the plate.

Even though I had one dish, I would go back and highly recommend checking out Lola. If I didn't know who Tom Douglas was before, I definitely acknowledge the great product and would want to see what else comes out of his kitchens. What a great way to end a good trip.

Lola on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homeade Pizza

One of our favorite things to eat is pizza and despite the amazing choices we have in Chicago, I wanted to try to make my own. I found a simple recipe online and added some of my own style to it. Pizza is a great anytime meal and now that I know how to make my own I'll be using it more often!

Pizza Dough Recipe
1 active dry yeast pack (.25 oz.)
3/4 cup hot water
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small bowl combine the yeast and hot water. Let dissolve for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl combine bread flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and garlic. Add in yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Cover and let rise for at least 30 minutes.

You can make your own sauce or use a marinara sauce like I do. Add toppings and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Dough Tip: As a working gal, I'll often make the dough the night before and let rise in the refrigerator over night.

Topping Tip: Some of our favorite toppings are: mushrooms, onion, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and basil. (As you can tell, we are a big into veggies).

Blank Canvas

Finished materpiece, let's eat!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Paris Club Preview Party

We had the great fortune of checking out Paris Club last night during one of their preview parties. As with any pre-open, I will post pictures but refrain from commenting on the food until the kitchen is ready to open to the public. The space looks great and it was packed with lively diners. The menu is approachable and offers many options to mix and match your tastes for any given meal.

Anyway, I look forward to real open to see how everything comes together. Here are some of the pictures from last night:

For some reason I forgot to take pictures of the lobster or steak dishes that made up our "main course." Oh well. Top to bottom - tuna tartare, french onion fondue, cauliflower gratin, paper bag red snapper and apple strudel for dessert.

I don't know the official date off hand, but it can't be too far way....

Paris Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bouchon Bakery - Yountville, CA

Normally a bakery the size of my living room does not warrant an entire blog post, but when it's Thomas Keller's Bouchon Baker, we can make an exception. What's not to love about fresh made bread and pastries made by a world class chef? We were in need of a small snack while wine tasting in the area so we stopped at Bouchon. It was cloudy and chilly, so everyone ordered a hot drink - Erica and I choose hot chocolate. Rich and creamy, you have to be a chocolate fan to finish an entire cup. Our snack was a ham and cheese panini, oatmeal raisin cookie and two small chocolate bouchons. I really liked the sandwich. As crazy as it sounds, you could tell that this was fresh made and not from your local subway/corner baker/(name where ever you normally buy paninis). I hope the flavors are more delicious because of all the fresh ingredients Californians have access to. (otherwise couldn't we all make great ham and cheese panini??)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

People Lounge

It's my own fault, but I'm slightly mad/disappointed it has taken me since December 10th to write about People Lounge. I hope my friends Geoff and Ashley don't hate me since we went to this together (and it was their idea!) For one reason or another it's been tough catching up on the writing, and it is in no way a reflection on the meals (I try to keep in chronological order for my own sanity, but that's not working out too well). Enough punishment.

The four of us headed to People Lounge on a Friday night for a post-Bulls game meal. It was on the late side so getting a table wasn't a problem (I've heard otherwise at regular times). The place has a fun vibe with TVs over a long bar (with lots of people hanging out, getting to know each other a little too much for public consumption, etc) and busy but happy servers. Geoff and Ashley had been before so we let them take care of ordering off of the Spanish-influenced tapas menu. Erica requested goat cheese with red sauce, and I love the spicy potatoes. Everything else was a surprise more or less. Our service was great, the food mostly good and the sangria a disappointment. The value isn't bad, about $40 per person all-in, with two pitchers and lots of food.


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