Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chicago - Girl & the Goat

Our farewell dinner to Chicago was concluded at The Girl and the Goat. Stephanie Izard was the season four winner of Top Chef (the only woman to have won!) and named the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef. Though we made reservations one month in advance, we were only able to secure a 10:30pm ressie for our party of eight. I'm sure smaller groups will have less of an issue getting a table. Needless to say, we were not rushed in any way, even though our waiter told us the restaurant was celebrating their one-year anniversary that very night after closing.

The restaurant features tapas / small plate / family style dining so I'm glad we went with such a large group to try many things. Poor, dark lighting for photos though ... but trust me when I say the food was the best we had the entire trip!

goat paraphernalia everywhere - so adorable!

tortone bread, sweet onion butter, herb oil

loompa bread, raisin walnut butter, carrot oil

chickpeas fritters, eggplant-tomatillo caponata, crave brother's mozarella

raw shibumi oysters, radish mignonette, tarragon

salmon tartare, summer squash, summer truffles, marcona almonds

goat chorizo flatbread, ramp pesto, rhubarb

confit goat belly, bourbon butter, lobster n' crab, fennel

seared scallops, brown butter XO, bok choy, shiitakes, sweet corn

sauteed green beans, fish sauce vinagrette, cashews

hiramasa crudo, crisp pork belly, aji chili, caperberries

grilled baby octopus, bacon, wax beans, radish, favas, pistachio-lemon vinaigrette (on the house)

pinn oaks lamb tartare, english pea tapenade, tuna aioli

grilled pork ribs, tomatillo-mushroom slaw, grilled scallion vinaigrette

ham frites, smoked tomato aioli, cheddar beer sauce

wood oven roasted pig face, sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, potato stix

ganache pork fat doughnuts, yuzu blackberries, salted oat streusel, malted vanilla gelato

No recommendations this time, except to get everything. The menu is divided nicely up into Vegetable, Fish, Meat, Bread and Goat. Take your pick and make reservations early!

Thanks to Vanessa and Ryan for the pictures - they have such awesome cameras!

Girl & the Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chicago - Bongo Room

After a wild out night out in Boy's Town (pre-bachlorette party!), everyone managed to gather for breakfast at 11am. We chose to go to The Bongo Room, which was at ne end of Millenium Park, in a not-very-happening area. However, the place was packed when we walked in and the wait was about 45 minutes.

croissant sandwich

shrimp, avocado & feta benedict

blt benedict

red velvet pancakes

side of bacon

strawberry banana pancakes

Pancakes and benedicts galore! I just noticed the trend in our ordering. The food sounds regular but everything tasted phenomenal. Especially the strawberry-vanilla bean whipped cream on top of the strawberry banana pancakes. It was SO GOOD that after we couldn't eat any more pancake, we scraped the cream off and just ate it so it wouldn't go to waste.

Bongo Room
1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chicago - David Burke Primehouse

David Burke Primehouse is located in The James Hotel, which is where we were staying. The botique hotel is really cute, with great service, Kiehl's bath products and turndown service *twice* a day. I'd definitely recommend it if you're heading to the Chicago area. It's convenient to the Red Line, and near Pizzaria Uno, Pizzaria Due, Lawry's and Petrillos. And Trader Joe's is directly across the street if you're inclined to BYOB for your room.

When we saw weekend bento boxes on the lunch menu at Primehouse, we could not resist. Needless to say, there was no real Asian food actually in the boxes. However, compartamentalized food appeals to me because I don't like my foods to touch/mix ... unless (1) they're meant to mix ie avocado and onion must mix to make guacamole and (2) I have decided when/how they are to be mixed and I do it myself. Yes, I have food issues - this statement is probably a therapist's wonderland. Don't judge me.

salt/pepper grinder - we were perplexed on how to get salt without the pepper or vice versa ... there is no way to get one without the other

hot chocolate - Belgian dark chocolate

hangover box - mini burkers (spicy mayo, french fries), mac n' cheese (chopped bacon), Monte Cristo (proscuitto, gruyere, tomato tapanade)

little bull box - 207L beef tips (arugula, blue cheese, tomato vinaigrette), grilled steak (mushrooms, onions, whipped potato), shortrib dumplings (bbq sauce), tempura green beans

eggs box - benedict (spicy ham, hollandaise), lobster scrambled (crème fraiche, caviar), peppers & eggs (chicken apple sausage, brioche), chive biscuit

mini ice cream cones - chocolate, vanilla, rum raisin chocolate chip, strawberry, kahlua, mint

Thanks to Vanessa for the pictures - she has a much better camera and a more artistic eye than I do!

David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicago - XOCO

I haven't had a lot of opportunities to go on trips with friends - my parents wouldn't dream of letting me out of the house in high school (tiger parents, anyone?) and there weren't as many opportunities in college due to money issues. Even now that I'm working, I've historically gone on trips with boyfriends or family rather than friends. Other than a few trips to Vegas, I haven't had much experience with this "friend-traveling thing" ... until this Chicago weekend!

Chicago is such a foodie town so I immediately compiled my list of places to chow down at - Frontera, Alinea, Next, Tru, Graham Elliot ... all of which were nixed. And with good reason too. Either the places were super expensive, or had crazy long wait times. However, to appease me, my lovely friends found XOCO - a more casual Rick Bayless eatery.

guacamole & chips - Frontera guacamole, just-made chips, 2 salsas

shrimp and scallop ceviche, avocado

ahogada - golden pork carnitas, black beans, tomato broth, spicy arbol chile sauce, pickled onions

cochinita pibil - wood roasted suckling pig with achiote, black beans, pickled onion, habanero

Top Chef torta (Friday special) - braised beef tongue, chorizo, potatoes, avocado, salsa verde


homemade Mexican vanilla soft-serve, maple bacon pecan strudel, salted caramel

Rick Bayless sure knows his stuff. Everything was delicous and very well done - especially the ceviche and soft serve. Maple bacon. Salted Caramel. SWOON! The eatery is right next to Frontera, so if you try to get a table and they tell you walk-in wait time is 3.5 hours (true story), just walk on over to XOCO.

Thanks to Vanessa for the pictures - she has a much better camera and a more artistic eye than I do!

449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crab Fest VII 2011

Went to Crabfest at the Hungry Cat a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to go for the past few years, but never got around to it due to scheduling conflicts. Never again! I will definitely set aside time every year to go to this event, as it is amazing. Five courses of amazingness. Service was really great and friendly, even though there were so many things going on at the same time. The waiters/waitresses never faltered.

dungeness and lump crab cake, harissa aioli, corn and avocado salad

Maryland crab soup

fried softshell crab po'boy, remoulade, b&b pickles, cabbage

grilled squash, charmoula, rustic croutons

jean's marinated heirloom tomatoes with provolone

steamed blue crabs

the brutal aftermath

stonefruit crisp

The crab soup and steamed blue crabs were a bit salty for my liking and the bread was a bit thick on the po'boy (I ended up just taking off the lop layer and not eating it), but everything else was great! I think the seasoning on the blue crabs was just a bit excessive. Especial favorites were the crab cake, grilled squash and stonefruit crisp.

Apparently Crabfast is a huge event every year, and not just for us commoners - we spotted Joel McHale, Michael Voltaggio and Jake Gyllenhal partakng in the destruction of crustaceans as well! I was only able to sneak a quick picture of Joel McHale, and Boyfriend would not let me go talk to him since "he was eating." I suppose that is the right thing to do. He twittered Joel that he had saved him from being swamped by a bunch of girls (me and the girl I was sitting next to were both excited) - and Joel actually messaged him back "thanks" and that "he would get him back at next Crabfast." Whatever!

He stands just like Jeff Winger does in Community!

The Hungry Cat
1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028