Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trump Tower

My mother-in-law, aunt-in-law, and sister-in-law were in town Saturday. After a lovely happy hour at their hotel, Amalfi Hotel, they decided they wanted to have a drink at Trump Tower. Apparently I wasn't paying attention because I don't know which bar we went to for drinks.

There are three bars: the Terrace at Trump, Rebar, and a bar that is part of the fancy restaurant, Sixteen.

Based on pictures and the fact that I couldn't locate the same drink menu we had under the Terrace at Trump or Rebar I think we were at lounge at Sixteen. Sixteen doesn't list their menu on the Trump Hotel website though.

We were able to finagle a table by the window. Because there's really no point in paying the exorbitant prices if you don't get the view. Originally they said they didn't have a table for 5 but we were able to squeeze an extra chair in at a table for 4.

My mother-in-law and I had a drink called the Lady Rose. It had rose champagne and some other fruity and flowery ingredients that I can't remember since I can't find the menu online. It was decent but I wouldn't order it again. My sister-in-law had a drink that tasted so bad that we asked our server to take it off the bill. All of us tried it and none of us could take more than a few sips. The Husband had a vodka tonic and aunt-in-law had a glass of wine so those are kind of hard to screw up.

Looking at the drink menu for Rebar it definitely looks like a better choice for drinks in the Trump Hotel. And if you go during nice weather try to get outside on the Terrace. I've heard it's beautiful.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rockit Bar and Grill

We went to Rockit Bar and Grill on a Saturday afternoon to watch some football. They open up the upstairs half an hour before University of Michigan games. Brunch is served until 4 pm. The sad part about brunch is that means you can't get the lunch menu at that time. The happy part is they have wonderful drink specials. Being the lush that I am, I got the mimosa kit. This included a bottle of champagne, 4 juices/purees, and fresh fruit. And yes I drank it all by myself. What can I say? Football games are really long.

The main point of my post is to rave about what I got for lunch. I tried the lobster burger - it is the "2007 burgerfest champ" and is a lobster patty, red onion brioche, avocado, and lemon creme fraiche. Absolute heaven in my mouth. The lobster patty had nice large chunks of lobster in it. The brioche was delicious. And the avocado on the burger added an excellent taste. Amazing. We also got a side of the truffle fries. They were delicious although my only complaint was that they were really thick. I prefer thin crispy fries.

I really wanted to try the Rockit cheese fries which have melted brie on them except they weren't on the brunch menu.

Rockit does great upscale bar food. Highly recommend for a fancy burger.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pops for Champagne

I have been dying to go to Pops for Champagne, a champagne bar, for years. Champagne is one of my favorites. They also have my other favorite, a lovely list of cheeses.

We purchased a Groupon for Pops for Champagne the other month. For those who don't know what a groupon is, you sign up for a magical email that pops up in your inbox every day. These magical emails feature a daily special in your area. There's been specials for gyms, spas, manicures, restaurants, bars, etc. A typical one is to spend $25 buying a restaurant gift certificate but you get a $50 restaurant gift certificate.

Pops had 3 oz or 5 oz glasses of champagne but they were expensive. Very few 3 oz glasses under $15. So we decided to order a bottle instead which seemed to us to be more reasonably priced. There are several choices in the $40-$50 range. We tried the Bortolotti prosecco di Valdobbiadene from Veneto, Italy. It was very good.

Since I can never resist a cheese, we ordered 3 cheeses - the epoisses, brillat savarin, and menage. I loved the epoisses and brillat savarin, both creamy and slighty stinky cheeses from France. The Husband loved the menage as he prefers harder, crumblier cheeses that aren't stinky.

I would recommend this place for a special occasion or if you're a high-roller. We were able to get a table for 2 in the back very quickly considering it was a Saturday night at 10 pm so I'm not sure reservations are necessary unless you're with a large group.


We went to dinner at Mexique, a Mexican-French fusion restaurant, last Saturday night. We'd never had Mexican-French fusion and it definitely leaned more towards Mexican but it was delicious. We started dinner with a lovely bottle of wine, a pinot gris from Oregon . They have a small but nice wine list. They also have red sangria available and some Mexican beers but no full bar.

We started with some baguette.

For an appetizer I got the Pescamal, a seafood mousse tamal cooked in banana leaves stuffed with crab meat fricassee, lemon confit, and clam-tomato sauce. Nice mix of flavors. The texture was a bit slimy though.

Our other appetizer was the Tinga de Pollo, with tostaditas, chipotle shredded chicken, creme fraiche, and cilantro. Simple but delicious. It was like a perfect mini taco bite.

I had the Asada for dinner. It had grilled flank steak, spinach, asparagus, roasted red peppers, fingerlin potatoes, and spicy goat cheese fondue. The steak and the potatoes dipped in the fondue was delicous. This was the big winner of the night.

The Husband had the pork tenderloin. It had pork tenderloin in a mole sauce with salsa and sweet potato. The sweet potato and salsa combination sounded strange but it was great together. I never order dessert but I saw these crepe-looking things covered with chocolate on the website and I just had to have them. Not sure why as I'm not a huge chocolate fan. They are called the enchiladas which are crepes filled with chocolate ganache, toasted walnuts, ancho chili-chocolate fondue, and creme anglaise vanilla bean ice cream. It was good but not great.

The Husband had the guacamole dessert with carmelized green smith apples, puff pastry, cajeta and vanilla bean ice cream. This was amazing. It tasted just like guacamole and if you dipped it in the dots on the side it added a little bit of a spicy lime taste. Definitely a one of a kind dessert.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

RIP Vacations

I bring very sad news to my 100th blog post.

My company recently merged with another design company.

Last year at my old company I got a total of 30 days between sick and vacation.

Starting January 1, I will have 15 days per year of PTO which includes sick and vacation.

I have practically been having a meltdown all week upon hearing this news.

Rest In Peace extended international vacation plans. I will miss you pretty beaches and cosmopolitan cities.

And this merger better be a good career booster or else I feel I may kick someone in the shins. No better for my career and less vacation? Talk about slaving away in corporate America. I've always been very fulfilled by this job so hopefully the lack of time off doesn't make me feel smothered and working for The Man.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pastoral Artisan

Pastoral is one of my favorite places in the entire city. And probably the first cool thing I found when I moved here. The original location is in Lakeview on Broadway and Wellington which was in our old neighborhood. I walked by the day after I moved to the city and decided it looked awesome. Wine, cheese, what more can I want? Soon after they started offering sandwiches.

They opened a second location in the Loop at Wabash and Lake. I go there for lunch at least once a week since it's not too far from my office. Before the second location I'd make the long trek by bus back to my old neighborhood just for a sandwich and some cheese.

They are opening up a 3rd location this fall/winter in the new Metra Market which will be located inside of Ogilvie train station at Randolph between Canal and Clinton. This is even closer to my house!

Pastoral offers a very diverse and high quality selection of cheese, fresh bread, wine, and a charcuterie.

They have a wonderful sandwich and salad list: http://www.pastoralartisan.com/sandwiches.shtm

If you're attending a concert in Millennium Park during the summer I highly recommend stopping by Pastoral to pick up a sandwich.

They also have a blog: http://www.pastoralartisan.blogspot.com/

A Weekend of Gluttony

I was lucky enough to go to 3 of my favorite restaurants this week.

Dinner - David Burke's Primehouse - This was a free dinner through work. I had the lobster bisque, southside filet, and cheesecake lollipops. Excellent. The steak was huge. We had a set menu to choose from so I'd recommend the pretzel-crusted crab cake if you're dining in the restaurant as an appetizer.

Lunch - Pastoral Artisan - I realized I have not yet reviewed this restaurant. How can that happen? I go there once a week. It is wonderful. I think I will write a separate review today.

Dinner - Bin 36 - I met my friend Liz for wine and cheese and a delicious flatbread with balsamic, lemon, and riccota. I just cannot get enough of the cheese there. And they have a lot of very reasonably priced wines on the tasting menu. Plus it was wonderful to finally meet Liz.

I have a feeling that the rest of my food this week is going to be a big letdown.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Orange recently opened a restaurant near our house at the Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted intersection. We'd first tried Orange at their Lakeview location 3.5 years ago about a week after I moved to Chicago.

Orange is a brunch spot and you can BYOB. You can also head 2 doors down to the Butterfly Social Club to pick up mimosas and bloody marys and other morning drinks while you wait and bring them into the restaurant.

I tried a bellini from there. It kind of sucked as I am a bellini connoisseur. Something was giving it a somewhat bitter taste. The Husband had a mojito which was pretty good.

We had about a half hour wait. Luckily it was nice outside. In the winter it will be cold. As much as I love food I don't think I like any food enough to stand outside in January for it.

Orange makes their own orange juice (hence the name). They also make lots of other juices and you can place an order of up to three combinations of juices. The Husband had a watermelon pineapple juice.

To be honest I'm not a huge brunch fan. I don't like too many sweet things like pancakes and french toast. And too many eggs hurts my stomach.

I ordered Omelet #11.5 which was stuffed with chopped bacon, sweet leeks, and creamy brie cheese and topped with avocado mousse. It was good but too heavy on the leeks and too light on the bacon and brie. The avocado mousse on top was fantastic.

The Husband ordered the Pancake Flight. This week's theme for the flight was muffins. One was cranberry, one was something like maple pecan, one was lemon poppyseed, and I think the last was blueberry. These pancakes were excellently done. I really can't rave about them enough (except I don't really like pancakes).

We also had a side of turkey apple sausage which was amazing. We both voted it was the best sausage we've ever had. A little bit of a sweet taste and not really greasy.

The Husband liked this place so much that he's ready to go back this weekend. So if you're the type that's into brunch I would recommend this wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tango Sur and Que Syrah

I cannot believe that I have been a resident of Chicago for 3.5 years and had never made it up to this famous Argentian BYOB steakhouse, Tango Sur, in Lakeview.

Do not come here if you do not like beef. And these are not small portions of beef either.

They are a BYOB restaurant and do not charge a corkage fee. We stopped by Que Syrah to pick up a bottle to go with dinner. They have a great wall of reasonably priced wines. And they had a large selection of Argentinian malbecs which match perfectly to the Argentinian steakhouse. Plus the two guys working there were very knowledgeable and friendly. They provided us with tastes of an October-themed beer and also with some wine. If I lived in the neighborhood I'd be stopping here often. I kind of want a part-time job here now except I'm afraid I'd be drunk all the time.

The bad thing: this place does not take reservations. And we had a 2.5 hour wait. We put our name in at 8 pm and were not seated until after 10:30 pm. Go EARLY. They take your cell phone number to call you to come back to the restaurant when your table is almost ready. So we went to the nearest bar, Blue Bayou, for 2 hours.

When we were finally seated we shared an antipasto tray of quesos argentinos, salami, jamon crudo, aceitunas y mortadella. I had El Filet for dinner which is filet in a red onion wine sauce with spinach mashed potatoes. My friend had bife vesuvio which is grilled prime steak sliced and filled with spinach, mar del plata cheese, and garlic in a white wine sauce with argentine style potatoes.

Both were excellent. Very good meat. Potatoes were good as well. Portions were huge though so we should have split one entree and had another appetizer instead. My filet had 2 rather large pieces of meat on the plate.

Be warned. Come hungry. And come early. We didn't get home from dinner until 1:15 am.

And don't come at all if you don't like meat.


I am not a sushi fan at all but the other 3 girls I was going to eat with all love sushi. Plus their menu had several non-sushi options. We headed to Bentonara on Belmont. Bentonara is a BYOB restaurant but it also serves wine, beer, and sake. You cannot BYOB beer though, only wine. And if you want wine with dinner, bring your own. The wine on their list was only identified as chardonnay or pinot grigio which leads me to believe they're not that good. Corkage is $10 although there was apparently a special and it was only $5.

For appetizers we had edamame, gyoza (pan-friend dumplings), vegetable tempura, and soft shell crab. The edamame weren't salted enough. The soft shell crab was delicious. The gyoza were pretty good. And since I don't really like vegetables I didn't try the vegetable tempura.

My tablemates ordered 3 sushi rolls - the rainbow maki, Chicago maki, and volcano maki. Concensus was the volcano maki was amazing. I even loved it and I'm not a sushi fan. The volcano maki has shrimp tempura, snow crab, tempura flakes, and volcano sauce. It was all fried up too which is likely why I liked it. The other two got so-so reviews.

I had the shrimp tempura for dinner. It was very good.

Bentonara is a great neighborhood restaurant although probably not something worth travelling to from far away. Although I am not a sushi expert so what do I know. If you aren't a sushi fan they did have many different options on the menu for you to try as well.


We went to a new restaurant called Mercadito on only the third day that they were open. I was a bit cranky because I'd called to get a reservation to be told that I could eat before 6 pm and after 10 pm. Apparently they were only starting with a few diners at a time because the place was only 1/3 full. And I was cranky because I didn't see why they couldn't squeeze 3 more people in.

The drink menu was a bit of a problem. Once again a Mexican place that doesn't do strawberry daiquiris and has an entire drink list of drinks made with tequila. Just like the restaurant in San Francisco I talked about a few weeks ago. I don't do tequila at all. So once again I had the waitress tell the bartender to substitute rum or vodka into one of their pretty drinks. I ended up with a good drink in the end, but I'm getting tired of tequila only drink menus.

Luckily the food redeemed the restaurant for me. We started with a hot salsa that my dining companions said was good but I didn't try because it was mouth-on-fire hot. Make sure to get the salsa with the crispy corn bites instead of just the chips. We also had 2 guacamoles - the tradicional and the mango. Both were excellent although the tradicional was a little too spicy for my mouth.

My dining companions had 3 orders of tacos total. They had the carne, pollo, and pastor. The pastor were good but the carne and the pollo were amazing! Seriously the most tender and flavorful meat I've ever had. The pastor come with chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, and chile de arbol salsa. The pollo are herb marinated chicken, chipotle pickled sweet potato, chipotle salsa, and crispy manchego. And the carne were maggi marinated organic skirt steak, grilled cactus pico, warm queso fresco, and crispy red onions.

I chose the ostiones - baked oysters, manchego cheese, chorizo, and chipotle aioli. Very good. They came presented on three very large cakes of salt which looked like mashed potatoes to me. So don't try to eat them. These had a great flavor. The only downside was there was not nearly enough to fill me up in the least bit.

This place was delicious but the edge might go to De Cero. First De Cero has a killer raspberry basil daiquiri which I could drink about 8 of them. I also liked the guacamole slightly better at De Cero. Finally, I like that you can mix and match your tacos instead of getting a plate of 4 of them same ones at Mercadito. At De Cero you can order your tacos individually for $3.15 to $4.75 a taco or get a combination plate of 8 tacos and 3 salsas for $30.50. At Mercadito 4 tacos of all the same variety are $12.50.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Otom is right down the street from us. It is the little sister restaurant to Moto, the molecular gastronomy heaven. Moto's tasting menu runs $110 per person for 10 courses or $175 per person for 20 courses. Which is why we were dining at Otom instead.

This was our third dining out experience in a row at a nice restaurant that had a child there. I'm still puzzled who wants to take a small kid to dinner at 9 pm at a nice restaurant? I hope this is not becoming a new trend.

Otom has some fancy cocktails that we started with. I had the Scarlett O'Hara with St. Germaine, lychee, raspberry puree, grapefruit, and Gruet. It was wonderful. Not too sweet but still fruity, just how I like it.

The Husband had the Brave Rooster with jalapeno-infused 10-Cane rum, muddled cilantro, pineapple syrup, and lime. Normally I'd think a drink that tasted like jalapenos was gross. This was was very good. With the cilantro and lime it was very refreshing and there was a definitely pineapple aftertaste.

My next drink was the Morning Dew. It had Plymouth gin, honeydew-cucumber syrup, house sour, prosciutto powder, and watermelon foam. I wasn't the hugest fan of this drink. It tasted like I was drinking a garden. The cucumber was a little overpowering.

The Husband had a Roses are Red, Whiskies are Blue which contained blueberry-infused Rittenhouse rye, orange curacao, orange juice, bitters, and rose water. He seemed to like it. I don't like whiskey, bitters, or orange flavor so I wasn't a fan.

My last drink was a lychee martini with 10 Cane rum, Soho Lychee Liquor, Lychee syrup, and house sour. It was good but nowhere near as good as the Scarlett O'Hara so it was a bit of a letdown.

I started with the BLT as an appetizer. It had caramel braised badon, smoked tomato jam, and romaine puree. It was perfection. Definitely the best part of the night.

The Husband had the shrimp with watermelon, heirloom tomato, and thai vinaigrette. The interesting part was they had managed to cut the watermelon and tomatoes so that just looking at it you couldn't tell which was what. So there was both red and yellow tomatoes and watermelon and you didn't know until you tasted each piece if it would be tomato or watermelon. It was a little disconcerting to try a piece of what I thought was tomato and it was watermelon. And then the next piece that I thought would be watermelon was tomato.

For my main dish I had the potato chip gnocchi with maytag, parmesan tuile, champagne grapes and pine nuts. The parmesan crust that came with this was delicious. The gnocchi were very light and matched very nicely with the sweet flavor of the champagne grapes.

The Husband had the skirt steak with heirloom tomato panzanella for his dinner. The steak was very good although wasn't really anything overwhelmingly special. The Husband doesn't really eat green things either so I ate most of his panzanella and it had a nice light dressing on it.

We also had a side order of macaroni and cheese with truffles, bacon, and white cheddar. It was amazing and only second to the BLT as our favorite of the night.

Definitely another culinary hit in the Fulton Market/West Loop area.