Tag Archives: Restaurant

Little Goat

2 Apr

Steph Izard is one of my favorite chefs, and the West Loop’s breakfast options are slim, so I have been anxiously waiting to try Little Goat. After hearing mixed reviews from friends, I couldn’t wait to try it myself.

I am happy to report that I had an incredible experience at Little Goat. First, I am a big fan of their wait list text message system which allows you to leave the restaurant and receive a text when your table is ready. We were able to go next door and enjoy a margarita while waiting for our table. Our server (Jake) could not have been nicer, his recommendations were perfect and he even took us on a tour of the private space when we were done eating. Finally, I really enjoyed everything that I ate. Overall, my first experience at Little Goat was excellent.

LOS DROWNED
braised beef . avocado . buttercase cheese . pickles . spicy mayo . hoagie
Los Drowned Sandwich at Little Goat

Los Drowned was my favorite dish that we tried. The flavors were rich and delicious, and the hoagie was perfect.

BISCUITS AND GRAVY
BUTTERED DINNER ROLLS
FRIED PICKLES & ONION RINGS
bread & butter pickles . ranch . curry mayo
Biscuits and gravy and dinner rolls

I very much enjoyed the biscuits and gravy, and the buttered dinner rolls were my second favorite dish that we tried. The homemade rolls with garlic butter were an incredible (and addicting) combination.

TACO SALAD
goat . chili . chips . shredded iceberg . cheddar . olives . tangy french dressing
Taco Salad Little Goat

This is not your traditional taco salad, and I think that is a good thing. It was original, fresh and quite tasty.

Wine: With a meal all over to board like this, I just went with what I like… a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I can’t say that it went with everything, but it was crisp and delicious on it’s own.

Quick Rating:
Once a month
Once a quarter
Once a year
If I have to
Never again

I’ve already been back. The friendly service, fair prices, and deliciously creative food are hard to resist . I imagine I will be frequenting Little Goat more than once a month (I’m already planning my next meal), and highly recommend that anyone who enjoys a good diner and/or Stephanie’s culinary style give it a try.

Photos of the event space:

Little Goat Private Event Space

Little Goat Private Event Space 2

Little Goat Private Event Space 3

Little Goat Private Event Space 4

Little Goat Private Event Space 5

Little Goat Private Event Space 6

Niche Restaurant

26 Feb Seared Scallops at Niche Geneva

I had the pleasure of helping put together, and attending a media dinner at Niche Restaurant in Geneva, IL. Myself and three others took the Metra train out to Geneva and walked a short four-ish blocks to the restaurant. Geneva is such a cute town, I look forward to venturing back out in the summer.

Niche serves American Contemporary cuisine, utilizing locally grown produce, artisan cheeses & meats, along with fresh daily seafood. Executive Chef Serena Perdue is a traditionally French trained chef who worked at NoMI before becoming Executive Chef at Niche. The restaurant also boasts an award winning wine list and an award winning Sommelier. Everything on the menu looked so good that we all ordered different meals in order to sample as much of the menu as possible. Here is the phenomenal meal that we had.

Duval-Leroy Brut NV  

We started the evening with a beautiful Champagne toast that took us through the cheese plate.

Artisan Cheese Plate Hidden Falls, Midnight Moon and Shaft’s Aged Bleu

All of the cheeses were tasty, but we were all most excited to try the Shaft’s Aged Bleu that is aged a minimum of 1 year in a goldmine shaft. It was absolutely delicious and paired well with their fresh lavash crackers.

Sauvignon Blanc I knew I planned on having seafood based dinners and prefer Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay so I went with the house Sauv Blanc the rest of the evening.

Burgundy Snails Tempura snails, parsley puree, mire poix, chablis glaze

Burgundy Snails at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of everything we ate, this was my least favorite. It wasn’t bad at all, just not my cup of tea. It was my first time trying snail, and will most likely be my last.

Shrimp and Grits Marinated shrimp, white hominy, spice shrimp glace

Shrimp and Grits at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were so, so good! The shrimp were tasty, the sauce was very flavorful and had a great spicy kick, and the grits were so creamy and delicious. This was the dish that I felt no remorse for grabbing the last bite.

Arugula Salad piquillo pepper, kalamata olives, egg yolk, capers, red wine vinaigrette

Arugula Salad at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious salad with a wonderful combination of flavors.

Lobster Saffron Risotto Saffron arborio rice, fennel, haricot vert, roasted cherry tomatoes, orange, vanilla foam

Lobster Saffron Risotto at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was easily the best dish I have had in a very long time. I cannot begin to explain how good this was. The risotto was cooked to perfection, it was slightly creamy but not so heavy that it weighs you down, and the lobster was delicious. Plus, the portion was so perfect that you were left feeling completely satisfied but ready for dessert. If you try one thing from this blog post, absolutely try the Lobster Saffron Risotto. I hope to make it back before the menu changes so I can have this one more time.

Peppermint Bombe white chocolate peppermint mousse, devils food cake, chocolate mirror glaze, chocolate bark

Mint Bomb at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mint Bomb Inside at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you like peppermint and chocolate desserts, this is quite tasty. I think it would be the perfect dessert during the holiday season.

Niche Coffee Coffee, Grand Marnier, Irish Cream and whipped cream

This after dinner drink was fantastic, and here is a step-by-step look at how it is crafted.

Sugared Rim:

Niche Coffee Sugar Rim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Marnier:

Niche Coffee Grand Marnier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Marnier lit on fire:

Niche Coffee Grand Marnier Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Marnier fire caramelizing the sugar rim:

Niche coffee on fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Irish Cream and Coffee:

Niche Coffee Irish Cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niche Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally fresh whipped cream:

Niche_Coffee_Fresh_Whipped_Cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niche_Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned, we all ordered different dishes in order to try more of the menu. Here are the other dishes that I was fortunate enough to sample that evening.

Seared Scallops Carrot honey puree, toasted Israeli cous cous, lime, English cucumber, ginger beurre blanc

Seared Scallops at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
As good as they look, maybe even better.

Butternut Ravioli fresh pasta, roasted broccoli rabe, roasted pear, brown butter, pine nuts, house made squash chips

Butternut Ravioli at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Cassoulet White beans, Toulouse sausage, chicken thigh, Tuscano kale

Winter Cassoulet at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brulee Banana Puff pastry, pastry cream, almond ice cream, chocolate sauce

Brulee Banana at Niche Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate and Strawberry two flavors of cheesecake, crunchy chocolate graham crackers and strawberry jewels

Strawberry_CheeseCake_Niche_Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky cake  Moroccan date cake warmed with hot toffee and cold creme fraiche

Sticky_Cake_Niche_Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was a lengthy blog post, but the food was so great I didn’t want to skip anything. Next time you find yourself in the Western burbs of Chicago, I highly recommend giving Niche a try. Cheers!

Germantown Commissary

6 Feb Pulled Pork Nachos at Germantown Commissary

I love visiting family in Memphis, and I love having Memphis BBQ when I am there. This year we decided to deviate from our typical BBQ spots to try somewhere new. We ended up at Germantown Commissary, a neat little spot in Germanton rated among the best BBQ spots in the city. I unfortunately have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. My family agreed that it was fine, but nothing to drive out of the way for again. Here’s what I had

BBQ Nachos
Pulled Pork Nachos at Germantown Commissary   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These nachos were pretty tasty, but I think that was more due to my love of anything covered in good cheese sauce rather than because the BBQ was good. I particularly enjoyed the chips that had cheese, BBQ sauce and jalapenos on them (and occasionally some pork as well).

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Pulled Pork Sandwich Germantown Commissary 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pulled pork sandwich was good, the pork was extremely tender and had a nice smoky flavor, I just can’t say that it was anything mind blowing. Both the beans and the slaw were really good, easily my favorite parts of the main dish. I’m not 100% sure about the whole deviled egg thing, I tried mine but am still a little confused as to why it is so famous there.

I wouldn’t avoid this restaurant, but when it comes to Memphis BBQ I have a few other favorites that I’d rather visit next time. Cheers!

First Taste at Vera Chicago

23 Oct

Vera Chicago MenuVera is a Spanish Tapas concept from husband and wife team Mark and Elizabeth Mendez that opened Wednesday (10/19/11). I have been following updates about the opening for months, so I was very excited to try it out on Friday. Plus, I have followed Liz Mendez on Twitter for quite some time, learning a lot about wine (especially Sherry), blogging and the Chicago restaurant industry. I couldn’t wait to come in and experience her Sherry Revolution.

We walked in to a very warm and inviting atmosphere with Liz herself at the host stand (it was great to meet after tweeting for so long) and husband Mark in the back of the restaurant overseeing the kitchen. Both walked around and talked to diners throughout dinner. I would describe the vibe as an upscale neighborhood restaurant that makes Spanish tapas and wine approachable and enjoyable.

Wine

Sherry at Vera ChicagoI couldn’t go to Vera without trying a glass of Sherry, so I asked Liz to pick out a glass for us. We ended up with a “friend” of Sherry, as the menu describes it: Nieport, Malvasio, Viosinho, Douro, Portugal. Thank you to Liz for taking the time to explain how this wine was similar, yet different, from an actual Sherry. It was a dry, grapey and enjoyable Sherry-like wine that was a perfect accompaniment to our cheese and ham.

Cheese
Manchego | Bayley Hazen Blue | Old Kentucky Tomme
Cheese at Vera ChicagoHam
Serrano
Serrano Ham at Vera Chicago

I would not advise skipping cheese and ham at Vera. It was a delicious start and a great accompaniment to our wine. If you are not sure what cheese/ham to pair with your wine selection, just ask… the staff is very knowledgable and friendly.

Roasted mushrooms, thyme
Roasted Mushrooms at Vera Chicago
These were the best mushrooms I have ever eaten (I know that’s a strong statement – and I’m sticking to it). The flavor was rich, earthy and delicious. It was so flavorful and savory, we almost felt like we had to be eating something more than mushrooms. I completely understand why our server said “I don’t like mushrooms, but these are amazing and you made a good choice” when we ordered.  If you go to Vera, the mushrooms are an item not to miss.

Unfortunately, other plans left no time to try more of the menu. Luckily, Vera is walking distance from my home so I will be back to check out the rest of the menu soon. Side note – if you are just looking to enjoy cheese with a glass of wine, check out their cheese bar where you can hang out with the man making the cheese and ham magic happen.

Cheese Bar at Vera Chicago

Cakebread Wine Dinner at Rockit

2 Jun

I was lucky enough to win a Twitter contest run by Billy Dec, allowing me to attend a Cakebread wine dinner at Rockit on May 16th. This is my semi-quick summary of the event!

Wine: At this Cakebread Cellars wine dinner, we sampled four different Cakebread wines. Since I (currently) have no desire to be a wine critic, I’ll let you know if the big wigs rated the wine, and then what I thought.

1. Chardonnay: I’ll be honest; Chardonnay is not my go-to white wine. I did however really enjoy this Chardonnay. It wasn’t overly oaked and out of control, but instead it was well balanced and enjoyable. Robert Parker gave the 2008 Chardonnay 90 points and I think he was spot on.

Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc  2. 2009 Sauvignon Blanc: ‘exceptional’ and 90 points in Wine & Spirits Year’s Best Issue June 2011. I could have sipped on this wine all night. I love a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and this hit the spot. Pair it with the Grapenutts and I found myself a little piece of heaven :).

3. 2007 Merlot: I intend to be completely honest, so honestly I don’t remember much about the Merlot. I tried a sip quickly between my Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon and it got lost in the mix, mostly because I was too excited to have the Cab with my burger!

4. 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: 92 points via Robert Parker. This was everything I hope for in a good Napa Cab. The full body and typical Cabernet Sauvignon flavors paired perfectly with my burger. There is a slight chance I tasted this wine 2, 3, even 4 times before the night was over.

Here are two cool facts that I learned about Cakebread Cellars from Mr. Cakebread himself:

  1. They pick all of their grapes at night. They initially used this process to improve one variety, but due to the technique’s success it is now used on all of the varieties we tasted. The winemakers take great care from vine to glass and it shows in their wine.
  2. The family name Cakebread is one of those ‘sur names’ that comes from your ancestor’s occupation. Way back when, the Cakebread family made cakes out of a special flour, how cool is that?!

Food: We all know that Rockit has some tasty food, so I’ll just quickly touch on what they served with the wine.

Charcuterie plate: Who knew Rockit did this? It was great, and perfect to set out with the wine.
Charcuterie plate at Rockit Chicago

Mini burger, truffle fries and Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Grapenutts: chilled jumbo grapes, rolled in goat cheese, crushed pistachios. We couldn’t get enough of these delicious little bites. The flavor combination was killer, especially with the Sauvignon Blanc!

 Mini burger with truffle fries: I loved the presentation of the mini burger, served with a few fries in a mini basket. It paired perfectly with the Cabernet Sauvignon. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Friends: The other winners of Billy’s awesome Twitter giveaway were Jess, Jean, Samantha, Bolaji, Lisa and Shanna. It was great to meet new friends and see familiar faces!

I was also fortunate enough to meet both Billy Dec and Mr. Cakebread, both of whom were extremely nice and great company. Thanks for stopping by & until next time, cheers!

Mr. Cakebread, myself, Billy Dec

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar

26 May

My trip to Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar on May 12thFirst thing’s first – drinks. I went with a Gumball Head and my boyfriend tried the South of the Border, West of the Sun. Gumball Head, good; South of the Border, West of the Sun could have been better and the glass could have been full. I’m going to chalk this up to it only being their second night, but if you’re going to charge $10 for a cocktail in a lowball, don’t leave it 1/3 empty (at least fill it up with some ice!). While pondering the menu we enjoyed complimentary edamame that had a “joshua tree spice blend”, flavorful and delicious.

Fried Oysters at Union

(Sometimes I forget to take a picture before I eat.. I get so excited!)
So, the Panko-Fried Oysters at Union. If you skip one item on the menu, I would recommend skipping this. If I’m going to indulge in fried food, I hope for full flavor and these bad boys lacked just that.

Next came the Barbeque Bar! We tried Beef Filet, Chicken Thigh and Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallop. Once again I forgot to take a picture until I was almost done eating. Everything was soo tasty!! The meat was juicy, tender and wonderfully flavored. If you can’t tell by the picture, the Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallop was superb. They really did a great job with the Barbeque Bar and the portion sizes are perfect for trying multiple dishes.

Sushi at Union

We ended this delicious feast with some Sushi, particularly the Hokkaido (grilled scallop, avocado, masago-mayo, roasted pepper, jalapeno, garlic + wrapped in soy paper). I love their sushi, and tried multiple other varieties on a recent trip back (yup, I’ve already been twice). I really enjoyed all of the rolls I tried, both their Classics and their innovative Union Rolls.

I also want to note that I felt the atmosphere and decor were unique (in a good way) for Chicago. The layout, grill and graffiti walls really did make it feel like a “neighborhood restaurant” and I will continue to patronize this delightful new joint.

Thanks for reading :) Who knows what I’ll post about next, but it will probably involve either food, drinks or photography. Cheers!

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