Hilary: I heard about Mexique from the list of Michelin star ratings of Chicago (although, they have since lost their star) and was very intrigued by the menu. I suggested it to Ashley and we decided to check it out. The menu wasn’t very extensive but we were able to land on a few things that we both wanted to try. We placed our order and got a bottle of wine to share.
Ashley: They gave us some complimentary bread to eat before we got our food. It was little pieces of bread with a black bean puree. The puree had a little spice to it and I liked it by itself but the bread tasted a little sweet to me and it didn’t mesh well with the black bean puree.
Hilary: When this came out, I thought, “Sure! Why not load carbs with more carbs?” I love that idea! In theory… This execution, however, did not fulfill my carb-o-load fantasy. It was a pretty dry combination. I think, instead of bread it should have been something with a different texture, ideally something crunchy to go well with the denseness of the bean puree. The puree itself was very tasty. The flavors reminded me vaguely of Indian food. There was definitely some coriander in there. Overall, this was underwhelming.
The night we went to Mexique was one of the first cold nights of the winter, so when we heard there was a soup on special, we both ordered a bowl. It was a Black Bean Soup (Black Bean, Toasted Chiles, Tomatillo, Epazote, Tortilla Tatemada, Queso Fresco). It had a nice kick that I felt in the back of my throat. I tasted cayenne pepper and chili powder, among other things. I loved the tomatillo that was on top. The acidity combined very well with the spice and added a burst of flavor. There was a tortilla on top but it seemed like it had been sitting out for a while because it was only lukewarm and really hard to break into pieces. I liked this soup.
Ashley: I was in a soup mood so I was excited for the black bean soup. When it came out, the bowls were huge! They looked like those big beach hats. I was a little worried that the soup would taste just like the puree that came with the bread but it was a different texture and had some extras with it. Again, there was a little spice to it but the tomatillo added a nice contrast to the spice. I liked it best with the crisp on top and cut it up into pieces. It wasn’t super hot, so the cheese didn’t fully melt and I got a big clump of it. I still liked it though.
Our first entrée was the Chile en Nogada (Stuffed Chile Poblano, Roasted Vegetable Roots, Dried Fruit, Goat Cheese & Walnut Sauce, Pomegranate). The goat cheese sauce had a pretty strong walnut flavor to it. I liked the after-taste of it the best. I also tried it with the pomegranate seeds and it was delicious. The pepper itself had a little spiciness to it. I tried the veggies without the pepper but they were much better when combined with the pepper. The veggies could have been cooked a tad longer I think though because they were still pretty crunchy.
Hilary: I was surprised that most of the ingredients in this dish were sweet. It seemed like that would have been a very odd combination with the bite of a pepper, but it worked alright. I loved everything that was stuffed inside. The pomegranate seeds were very aesthetically pleasing and gave a great pop in each bite. The goat cheese walnut sauce basically tasted like creamy walnuts. This dish was very unique and I enjoyed it a lot, both the way it looked and the way it tasted.
Our second entrée was the Asada (12 oz NY steak, Truffle Purple Malanga Puree, Zucchini Salad, Goat Cheese Fondue). While the steak was very tasty, I thought it was a little dry. I needed to eat it with the other components on the plate to make up for it. Our server told us the little bowl on the side was a tararoot puree. It tasted just like mashed potatoes, so I liked it. The goat cheese fondue, under the steak, was kind of spicy but a little too thick. Too heavy for the dish. The radish, zucchini, onion salad on the side was a crisp addition to the plate, but didn’t lend any strong flavors. Everything on the plate tasted good together, but not so great alone. I wasn’t super impressed with this dish.
Steak: The steak had a great flavor to it and it was very tender. The goat cheese fondue that came with it was just really cheesy. I did not like the combination of the steak and fondue. I did like the combination of the steak with the tararoot that came with it though. It tasted like mashed potatoes, with a little more sweetness and grittiness to it. There was a zucchini salad that also came with it that tasted like coleslaw to me.
Overall, the meal was pretty good but not amazing. The steak was definitely my favorite part of the meal and I really liked the way it was cooked. I’m not sure I would go back though as the price is a little steep for the quality.
Hilary: I thought the meal was really good. We had some very unique flavor and ingredient combinations that I enjoyed. However, I think there are other places held in just as high esteem (or perhaps even higher) where you can get more for your money.
Ashley: I had been wanting to try Trenchermen for a while so I was excited to finally get the chance. Hilary was running a little late so I ordered a drink while I waited. I wasn’t in the mood for anything fancy so I went with a Three Floyds Pride & Joy. I was looking around and really enjoyed the décor. There was a lot of wood and it was very cozy. I especially loved the detailed silverware!
Hilary: When I finally arrived at the restaurant, I needed a cocktail so I ordered the Norrland Saur (North Shore Aquavit, Kummel, Lemon, Egg white.) It was, as the name suggested, pretty sour with a strong taste of lemon. I liked how the egg white made it frothy. I drank it down pretty easily and quickly! Ashley is right, the restaurant is very cozy with dim lighting, which was a nice ambiance but made it very difficult to get good pictures! =( We even tried using the candle on the table as extra lighting, but it didn’t work too well.
For our first appetizer, we ordered the Pickle Tots (Chicken Bresaola, Red Onion Yogurt, Scallions.) They were cube-shaped tater tots with bits of pickle inside but the pickles were chopped very small so I didn’t notice a different texture or anything. They were pretty dense and heavy but had a great crunch. I loved the contrast of the tangy yogurt, the dill on top, and the smoky bresaola. I really enjoyed this dish and was scraping up the leftover yogurt that Ashley left behind!
Ashley: I wasn’t sure what to expect with these. They looked like tots but had pickle in them. It was more like a fried pickle of sorts. The red onion yogurt tasted a little like French onion dip but not as sweet. It was pretty strong. The chicken was like deli meat…and I didn’t really like it with the tots. I think it could’ve come without the chicken. This dish was just okay to me.
Next, we had the Burrata (Squash, Miso, Hazelnut, Apples, Beer.) We weren’t really sure how we were supposed to eat it at first because there was no bread or anything. We just decided to dig in with our forks. I tried each bit by itself to see what everything tasted like. The miso was interesting…I didn’t really like it. The apple was really sour and tasted a lot like pineapple to me. I liked it best with just the burrata and the squash. I also liked the hazelnut.
Hilary: I love burrata cheese because it is so creamy and delightful. It was a great base for all of the components that were on this dish. It involved an interesting combination of flavors. The apple gave it a tang but then the miso and the hazelnuts softened it with a sweetness. Those were my favorite components. The squash was kind of flavorless and did not add much to the dish, in my opinion.
For our main course, we got the Scallops (Quinoa, Carrots, Vacouvan, Pig Ear, Kaffir Lime, Apricot, Peanuts) and it was a very complex dish. The quinoa was curry-flavored with a slight kick and had a lot of coriander in it. The scallops had a nice sear on top but there was just a bit of grit in mine. They served the carrots two ways: whole mini carrots that were sweet and carrot slices soaked in lime juice and spiced with more coriander. I couldn’t taste the apricot or peanuts at all because they were hidden by all of the other ingredients on the plate. This dish would have been a lot better and simpler with just the scallops, quinoa, and sweet carrots.
Ashley: I thought this dish was pretty good, although it was a little overwhelming. The scallops were cooked well and the quinoa that came with it was the best part of the dish. I thought it had a Mexican flavor to it. I liked the sweet carrots the best.
We knew before we even looked at the dessert menu that we wanted to order something so we got the Trenchermen S’mores (Dark Chocolate, Popcorn Ice Cream, Graham, Mallow.) I was interested to see how popcorn ice cream would taste but it was my favorite part of this. It was so good and creamy and sweet. They toasted the mallow on top so it was just like a burnt marshmallow. The graham cracker had a little cinnamon flavor to it but it wasn’t too sweet. I tried the mallow, chocolate, and graham cracker together and it was good but not quite like a typical s’more. My favorite combo on the plate was the ice cream, popcorn, and graham cracker crumbles. It could be it’s own dessert!
Hilary: This was a pretty unique s’more and I appreciated the attempt to have a different take on such a classic dessert. I loved the house made graham cracker! It was very thick and a little tough to break but it tasted like a gingerbread cookie. I’m not sure if the ice cream was actually popcorn flavored or if it was just plain ice cream with popcorn on top but either way, I liked it. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the chocolate or the mallow. The chocolate was basically a brick of fudge on the plate and was too dense and rich for me and I, personally, like my marshmallow burnt to a crisp for s’mores. My favorite combination was the same as Ashley’s: ice cream, popcorn, and graham cracker.
Overall, I did enjoy this meal and I really liked the ambiance but I think the portions were a little small for the prices. Also, most of the dishes would be even better if they were simplified a bit.
Ashley: I was glad to finally get the chance to try Trencherman. The ambiance was great and the server was really nice. They had so many options that I would like to go back and try something else sometime.
Hilary: Ashley and I decided to check out Little Goat Diner on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch. I’ve heard so many great things about it and I love diner food, so the menu sounded awesome! It’s a pretty small place but has plenty of seating options. We were seated right under a sky light which was nice, and especially great for photos! =)
Ashley: I was excited to finally try Little Goat Diner. Our experience at Girl & the Goat was amazing, so I was expecting nothing less here and I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, my notes were randomly deleted from my iPhone (thanks Apple!!) so my review may be a little vague as I don’t remember all of the specific details.
I started off the meal with a Rosemary Daly (Kettle One vodka, Rosemary simple syrup, Lemon, St. Germain, Lemonade, Iced Tea.) This drink was basically an adult lemonade. It didn’t really stand out one way or the other. It was good but nothing super amazing.
Hilary: I wasn’t too impressed by the drink I had either. I had the Moscow Goat (Bombay London Dry Gin, Ginger beer, Fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, Fresh lime juice) and it was extremely bitter from all of the citrus involved. It was hard to get down and I don’t think I finished it.
Even though our drinks were not great, our meal quickly turned around once we got the Mac & Cheese! The breadcrumbs on top were just the right crispy crunch and I loved how the creamy cheese was scooped up by the large noodles. It was smooth, creamy, crunchy and salty. I may venture to say this is the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had…
Ashley: I really liked the mac & cheese. It was creamy and I even liked the breadcrumbs on top, which I usually prefer it without. It had the perfect cheesy flavor.
Next, we had the Bull’s Eye French Toast (Eggs, Crispy chicken, Sweet onion brioche, BBQ maple syrup.) It was an interesting take on chicken & waffles. The egg in the middle was strange to me as I don’t normally like sweet stuff with my eggs but it was actually really good. The chicken was delicious and I preferred bites with just the French toast and chicken. The strawberries were unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the dish. I liked this dish the most out of everything we had that day.
Hilary: The French toast was a little soggy for my preference but still tasted wonderful. The egg in the middle was a nice touch but was a little undercooked as it still had some raw egg white. The chicken on top was definitely the star of the show. It was battered nicely and had a great crunch, with a slightly sweet flavor. I agree with Ashley and could take out the strawberries. When I had a bite of everything with the strawberries, it was a little off. Overall, this was great.
Last, we had Los Drowned (Braised beef, Havarti, Avocado, Pickled peppers & onions, Spicy mayo, Hoagie) and it was so delicious!! It was like a french dip sandwich but with a unique twist because of the mexi-slaw and avocado on top. I loved how the crunch of the slaw contrasted with the tenderness of the meat. There was a great zesty flavor soaked into the meat. I would, without a doubt, get this sandwich again!
Ashley: I agree with Hilary in that it is a classic French dip with mexi-cali flavors. The beef was definitely cooked well and had so much flavor. I liked all of the toppings as well. Nothing was overpowering and everything tasted so good together. This was a delicious sandwich!
Hilary: I am definitely in love with Little Goat Diner. Even though there are so many things on the menu left to try, I plan to go back and order the mac n cheese and Los Drowned again!
Hilary: From Bilbao, we took a bus to San Sebastian, which was lovely! It was a little beach town and even though it was a little chilly while we visited, people were out in the water the whole time we were there. We did not bring our bathing suits so we did not go in the water.
Ashley: San Sebstian was a cute little town. It almost seemed fake as we were walking around…like one of those towns in Disney World.
Hilary: There was quite a bit to do in this small town! We hiked up to the top of Monte Urgull, had drinks at a pop-up bar on Zurriola Beach, drank sidre (cider) on the patio at La Perla, and had the best olives I’ve ever tasted at Nineu . But the real deal in San Sebastian is the food. San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere in the world!
We spent our meal times doing pintxos (pronounced peenchos) crawls. This is where you go to several different places and order one or two specialties at each. Most places will have their pintxos out on the bar but some also offer hot pintxos to order. These were some of our favorites!
Ashley: When we first arrived in San Sebastian, we decided to put our stuff away and head right out for foods. One of the places Hilary found was a couple of doors down. When we walked in, there were so many options that I wasn’t sure what to get. For some reason, this skewer with shrimp and a deviled egg appealed to me, which was odd because a.) I don’t usually like shrimp and b.) eggs that are sitting out like that would normally skeeve me out. But I got it…and I ate the whole thing! The deviled egg was delicious and the shrimp was the perfect texture that I wasn’t grossed out. This may entice me to try shrimp again.
The scallop gratin at Dakara was so cute. It was served in a seashell instead of a cup. It was like a cheesy scallop soup. It was so good. I could eat it again and again.
Hilary: We ordered the scallop gratin off the hot pintxos menu. It was very creamy with pretty big bits of scallop. There was plenty of it for us to share. I do wish the crust has been crunchier though. This was our last stop for lunch time but we would be back at it that night for dinner!
If you look up pintxos bars in San Sebastian, chances are Borda Berri will come up with a recommendation to get the carrillera de tenera (veal cheek) and the risotto. So, that’s exactly what we did! It was very crowded so we had to be a little aggressive to get up to the counter and get someone’s attention. But, it was worth the wait! The veal cheek was the most tender meat I have ever eaten and the red pepper sauce was so tasty. The risotto had a great texture, not too soft, and the salty cheese sauce was satisfying without feeling too heavy. I loved the green sauce on it, although I have no idea what it was.
Ashley: I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the veal cheek…I had never heard of it before. But it was sooo tender and flavorful. It reminded me of pot roast that had been roasting for hours. It was delicious. The risotto was so creamy and rich and the rice had the perfect texture. It had the perfect amount of saltiness to it as well. Another dish that I could eat again and again.
Hilary: After hitting up Borda Berri, we headed to Bar Nestor. They only do three things there (tomatoes, padrón peppers, and steak) but they do them all right!! We ordered the tomatoes which are chopped and doused with olive oil and flaky salt. They also give you a basket of bread so you can dip it in the olive oil after the tomatoes are gone. It was such a simple dish but absolutely delicious. The tomatoes were so fresh and sweet, the crunch of the salt was just the small amount of seasoning needed, although I could have eaten them without any salt at all and still thought they were delicious. Dipping the bread in the oil really was icing on the cake. This was our favorite pintxo stop and we actually went back the next day for more! It helped that everyone who worked there was very friendly and the main guy was really funny, always trying to make people laugh.
Ashley: The tomatoes they had were so fresh and juicy. I loved how the leftover olive oil had a slight tomato flavor to it. It was so great to dip the bread in.
Hilary: Our last stop on the first night was Goiz Argi for the spicy morcilla (blood sausage with rice.) I was afraid Ashley would be too grossed out by the fact that it was congealed blood inside but she had no problem with this one. I thought it was really tasty! The rice made it very filling and a great texture. I don’t remember it being particularly spicy, just really flavorful.
Ashley: The name of this one kept throwing me off but it looked harmless so I made sure that I tried it. It was actually pretty good. It tasted like a meatball with some rice in it. I’m glad we got this one.
Hilary: The next night, we made some stops again to complete our pintxos crawl. We went into A Fuego Negro where they had some unique pintxos featuring molecular gastronomy. We ordered the arroz idiazabal con ali oli y negro helado which was a creamy cheesy rice served with a small scoop of black ice cream. Turns out the “ice cream” was squid ink frozen with liquid nitrogen. It was my first time trying squid ink so it was…interesting. Very salty and savory. I did not like the stark temperature contrast so I ended up mixing the squid ink into the rice and I liked that better. Compared to Borda Berri’s risotto, this was less exciting. The sauce was a little thinner and not quite as flavorful. But the squid ink put a totally different spin on it!
Ashley: When we first got this, we weren’t exactly sure what the ice cream was. All we knew was that it was a scoop of black ice cream. When I tasted it, I made sure to try the ice cream by itself. It wasn’t very good. It just tasted like salty ice to me. So, we mixed it all together and I took a few bites but the ice cream just overpowered any other flavor. Later, we figured out that it was squid ink ice cream. Gross…
Hilary: Even though we were completely stuffed, we had to make a stop at La Viña for their famous cheesecake! We walked in and were talking about how amazing the baked cheesecakes looked when the lady next to us spoke up and said the cheesecake was the bomb! We started talking with her and after a while he asked us where we were from. We said Chicago and she said she was from Chicago too. She mentioned her cross streets and we couldn’t believe it because we live less than a block away from her! How funny that we were thousands of miles from home but managed to meet someone who lived down the street. The cheesecake was very good—different than any cheesecake I’ve had because you could really taste the eggs. Apparently, the recipe is mostly just eggs and cream cheese. It was very delicious but we couldn’t even finish one slice because we were so pintxo’ed out!
Ashley: This cheesecake didn’t look like a typical American cheesecake and it tasted different too. It was very egg-y…like they put too many in there. I honestly had a hard time tasting anything else. It seemed more like a quiche to me.
San Sebastian was wonderful and I am so glad we made a stop here on our Spain adventure!
Hilary: One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 was to visit a different country. I can’t believe it, but I went 27 years of my life without needing to use my passport! It was time. So, Ashley and I decided to take a sister trip to Spain! We scheduled two weeks to visit 4 cities (I visited a 5th on my own) and it was such a great trip! We met so many people from all over the world and tried many new cuisines. So, of course we have to share some of our Spanish food adventures with you!
Our trip started off at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. We were so excited to get going!
We flew nonstop from Chicago to Madrid, which took about 8 hours. We needed to sleep on the plane but only ended up getting about 1.5 hours of sleep. So, when we landed (at 7:40am the next day) we were exhausted. We headed straight to the train station to so we could head to our first destination: Seville. Seville is located in southern Spain along the Guadalquivir River. We slept the entire train ride, but were pretty jet lagged when we arrived.
Ashley: I was so excited to finally be in Spain…but man, was I tired. We heard from so many people that no matter how tired you are, you have to just power through to fight the jet lag. So, that’s what we did. To do so, we needed multiple café con leches! And then we set off to explore and wander around. Seville was beautiful. It was warm and the architecture there was very impressive.
In one of the neighborhoods, Barrio Santa Cruz, the streets were so narrow, we couldn’t believe cars actually fit on them! Yet they whipped around like it was no big deal. The hostel we stayed at, La Banda, was very welcoming. Everyone there was so nice and they encouraged people to hang out and get to know each other. They even cooked dinner for everyone and had a family-style meal up on the rooftop each night! We met some really great people there. It was the perfect way to start our trip.
My favorite night, by far, was our last night. We went to a Flamenco show and then walked to Metrapol Parasol, the largest wooden structure in the world. We went right around sunset so we had some amazing views at the top!
That night, we had dinner at the hostel and stayed in with some of our new friends. It was really great time!
Hilary: For dining in Seville, we relied on the recommendations of people from the hostel and they did not disappoint! Our second day in Seville, we had tapas for lunch at Vinería San Telmo. We sat outside which was a little warm but still nice. We asked out server how many tapas she recommended we share and she told us 4. So, that’s what we did.
Ashley: First, we had the tomato tower (tomatoes, goat cheese, salmon, and eggplant.) I was expecting more of a caprese type set up with this but the presentation was much better. The tomato slices were huge and really fresh and they piled on a lot of goat cheese, but I wasn’t complaining. I couldn’t really tell the salmon was even on it and the eggplant, which I normally don’t like, worked well with the other ingredients! This was my favorite dish.
Hilary: I agreed with Ashley for the most part, but I did think there was too much goat cheese. Once I started taking some of it off my bites, I enjoyed the dish much more. I think the eggplant was unnecessary. I couldn’t taste it.
I love a good Beef Carpaccio so I was excited to get this. However, it lacked flavor. Some salt or capers or SOMETHING would have made this much better. Otherwise, it was just bland.
Ashley: I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this but of course I was going to try it! Unfortunately, the texture threw me off…shocking, I know.
Hilary: Our server told us the Moroccan Pastry (curried chicken, raisins, and almonds) was her favorite of the tapas so we tried it. I loved it! The pastry crust was so flaky and crunchy! I loved every bite.
Ashley: This pastry surprised me because I thought it would be more savory, but it was actually kind of sweet. There was a lot of chicken in it and you could really taste the spices. I probably wouldn’t get anything like it again but I enjoyed it while I was eating it.
Spain is known for their tortilla (egg and potato omelette)…you can find it everywhere! So, this was a nice introduction to it. The potatoes were soft and the red peppers gave it some extra flavor. It even came with a little bit of salad on the side, which was also good.
Hilary: This being our first tortilla of the trip, I really liked it. After having a few others, I realize it was really nice to have the red pepper because most places serve it only with egg and potato so that added some extra pizazz!
Seville was such a fun place and the people who ran and stayed at the hostel made it even better. I would highly recommend staying there if you ever go to Seville, and also check out Vinería San Telmo for some tapas with a unique twist!
Stay tuned for more posts from our Spain adventure!
Hilary: Our Dad was in town for a special event one weekend and we had the chance to take him to brunch before he went back to Florida! We decided to check out Spritzburger. Our Aunt Janet and cousin, Dorey, also joined us.
Ashley: When we first got there, it was extremely loud inside…a little too loud for Sunday brunch. Luckily, it was nice out and we were able to get a table on the patio.
Hilary: We ordered the Ricotta Donut Holes and the Blueberry Lemon Scone to start off our meal. The ricotta donut holes tasted kind of like funnel cake but the inside was softer. I loved the scone. The lemon was very subtle and the pop of the blueberries was great. The icing was a little too sweet for me but I picked edge pieces that didn’t have much on it.
Ashley: i really enjoyed the donut holes. They were warm when we got them! They had a great texture–doughy on the outside and creamy in the middle. They were not too sweet or too savory…a great balance. The scone was really good too. It had a light lemon flavor, but not too strong, and I really liked the icing on top.
Hilary: I tried to order the Celery Mary but they were out, so I got the Bacon Mary (house bacon vodka, basil, house bloody mix) instead. It came with a big piece of bacon in it, and that was delicious. However, I did not like the drink at all. There was too much basil and the vodka was very noticeable. This might have been the first time that I did not finish my Bloody Mary at a restaurant.
Ashley: I decided to go with a Bellini (white peach puree, sparkling brut.) It served it’s purpose…tasted like champagne with a slight peachy flavor.
For our first entrée, Hilary and I ordered the Poutine Burger (fries, cheese curds, sage country gravy, open face.) I was so excited about this. It looked amazing when it came out. It was so juicy! The gravy was a little gritty by itself but I could not tell when I combined it with everything. The fries were so good. They were skinny, crisp, and salty. We got some house made ketchup with the dish but I did not get excited about it. It really just tasted like watered down ketchup with hot sauce to me.
Hilary: this burger was very tasty. A small part of the patty was undercooked and some blood was running on the plate, but I just cut that part off and ate the rest. It was so flavorful, seasoned very well, and the gravy and fries on top really sent it over the top. The fries were pretty salty but I loved them. They served a housemade ketchup and it tasted like roasted tomatoes. A nice, unique touch.
Our second entrée was the Boystown Omelette (bacon, sausage, cheddar, sautéed onion, siracha aioli, spicy breakfast potatoes, buttermilk bisquit.) We asked for it without sausage but they put it in anyway. After eating the bacon from my bloody mary, I was really looking forward to eating more bacon in the omelette but there was not much in there. And I could not taste the sriracha aioli. To be honest, the omelette was pretty bland. Some salt and pepper and more bacon would have made it way better. The potatoes on the side weren’t that good either. They were covered in chili powder which made them gritty. I was not a fan of this dish. The highlight was the biscuit with a housemade mango butter that came on the side. The mango butter was a pleasant surprise.
Ashley: the eggs in the omelette did not have much seasoning, although I thought they were cooked well. The siracha was not as spicy as I expected, which was good because sometimes siracha can be a little too hot for me. I did not like the potatoes but the biscuit was really good. It had a slight crunch on the outside but was soft on the inside.
All-in-all, I don’t know that I would go back to Spritzburger…at least not for brunch. Maybe for a pre-going out dinner.
Hilary: The moral of this story is, Spritzburger has a great burger chef and a great pastry chef. So, stick to the burgers and desserts and you should enjoy your meal!
Ashley: Our brother, Ben, was in town visiting so we wanted to treat him to some unique places that he would not be able to get back in Florida. One of our choices was DMK Burger Bar. Upon being seated, our server brought us a plate of fried pickles and said it was a treat from him. How nice!
I always love a good fried pickle so I was excited when we got some at the table. They were pretty good. They had a little spice to them. The batter was thick like it would be on fried chicken. It was a little too much, but it was nice and crispy.
Hilary: I thought it was such a nice gesture for our server to bring these to us without any provocation! I liked that there was a little spice in the batter but, to be honest, there was just too much batter for the tiny gherkin pickles inside. Every time I took a bite, the whole pickle would end up slipping out of the batter. A little tricky!
Ashley: Since the burgers here are served a la carte, we got some sides for the table. The first side was fries topped with Wisconsin cheddar and scallions. The fries by themselves tasted like Rally’s fries (or Checkers depending on what part of the country you are in.) With the cheese, there was a little too much seasoning going on. It was overwhelming to me.
Hilary: The fries were seasoned with quite a bit of black pepper…I think that is what reminded Ashley of Rally’s fries. The cheddar had an odd grittiness to it even thought it was melted. It threw me off a little bit, but the flavor was still classic cheddar.
Ashley: Our second side was mac & cheese with aged cheddar and parmesan crust. I could have done with a little less black pepper but the parmesan crust was really good.
Hilary: I loved this mac & cheese! It was so creamy and I loved the kick of the black pepper. The parmesan crust was perfectly crunchy on top.
We tried to get two unique choices for burgers, so our first choice was the #5 bison burger (Grass-fed Bison, fresh Goat Cheese, Pickled Red Onions, Blueberry BBQ Sauce.) I really enjoyed the bison burger. It did have a lot of onions and the goat cheese was overpowered by the other flavors but I liked all of the ingredients. The blueberry BBQ sauce was very interesting; it was a subtle, sweet flavor. Very nice! My only complaint was that the bun had too much flour on it.
Ashley: I was not a huge fan of this burger. I thought the blueberry flavor in the sauce was too strong. Even though the flavor of the bison evened it out a little, it did not mix well with the salty goat cheese, in my opinion.
Next, we ordered the #11 burger with a turkey patty. We thought the Greek toppings (Sheep’s Milk Feta, Olive Tapenade, Greek Salad, Tzatziki) would go well with it and we were right! I thought it tasted just like a Greek salad but in burger form. I love Greek salad, so that is a good thing! The patty was juicy and flavorful. I liked getting bites with the salty olives and feta in it.
Hilary: This was not really like a Greek salad to me, maybe a gyro? But, regardless, I did not like the turkey patty. There was some spice in there, possibly fennel, that was very off-putting. I did not even notice the other flavors because that was all I tasted. I did try the other toppings separately and they were good so it was really just the patty that I did not like.
This meal had some highs and lows, for me. I liked that they offered some unique topping combinations and that you could choose bison, turkey, beef, portobello or veggie for your burger patty. I know now what I like so I would be able to order better next time. However, with so many options for burgers in the city, I think I would like to try some others before coming back here again.
Ashley: Can you believe we posted our very first entry as The Savory Sisters 1 year ago?? It is crazy to think that it has been a year already. We have eaten A LOT of food…and loved every minute of it. To celebrate our first year, we chose some of our favorite items for a special edition of The Savory Sisters Awards! A special shout out to Heather Marley for the lovely logo!
Best Egg Dish
Ashley: Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe’s Garden Sizzlin’ Skillet was the winner for me! After we ate there, I was constantly thinking about it. It had a lot of veggies that made it light and fresh. I loved it. Coming in close behind was Tre Kronor’s quiche. The eggs were so fluffy and light.
Hilary: I had to choose the Sunnyside-up Organic Egg Pizza from Nellcôte! It was amazing. The salty fontina cheese, the sharp arugula, and the homemade dough laid the base for a beautifully runny egg. The quiche from Tre Kronor was also my second pick.
Best Seafood Dish
Ashley: This was a tough one. I have two winners because I had a really hard time deciding between the two. First was Kinmont’s Door County Whitefish Chowder. I loved that they used white fish instead of clam. It made the texture very pleasant for me. Second was Girl & the Goat’s Diver Scallops. They were silky smooth but seared well on the edges and tasted great with all of the components of the dish.
Hilary: It is no surprise that my favorite seafood dish was also from Kinmont, a restaurant that prides itself in offering quality seafood to Chicagoans. I chose the Rushing Waters Trout, prepared with brown butter, lemon, and parsley. My runner up was the scallops from Juliette Kitchen & Bar in Newport Beach, CA.
Ashley: This one had to come from Vegas…obviously. Hilary and I went to Bouchon Bistro on my last day in Vegas and we had the Croque Madame. It was fancy hot ham & cheese sandwich with egg on top and served with the best fries. What more could you need for a hangover cure?
Hilary: I agree with Ashley! My top choice was also the Croque Madame. I was really hungover that morning and without those fries, I do not know if I would have made it through the day! My runner up was the Poutine at Dryhop.
Ashley: By now, you all know that my drink of choice is a mimosa. So, it is fitting that the best cocktail I had all year was the Mimosa from Nellcôte. The thing that made it stand out was that they put strawberry puree in it instead of just garnishing it with a strawberry. It made for a nice, sweet flavor.
Hilary: Both of my choices for best cocktail are whiskey cocktails, which is funny because a year or two ago, I didn’t even like whiskey! How my tastes have changed… My favorite was the Rusty Miner from High West Distillery in Park City, UT. I loved the toasted marshmallow flavor. A close second was the No. 8 cocktail at Siena Tavern. It was like a refreshing, summery version of an old-fashioned.
Ashley: This one was obvious. I mean, do you remember the title of the entry? The Publican had by far the best bacon that we tried this year with their Maple-Syrup Braised Publican Bacon. It was thick but had a slight crisp on the edges and the syrup gave it a wonderful sweet and salty combination.
Hilary: I agree! Publican’s bacon was the best. DryHop came in second, for me, with their Brown Sugar Coated Bacon. In addition to being sweet and salty, it also had a spiciness going on.
Ashley: I do not normally like sweet dishes but there are two clear winners here. For one, I go back to Vegas and again choose Bouchon Bistro for their Chocolate Almond Croissant. It was flaky with delicious chocolate and the almonds on top gave it such a nice crunch. My other favorite was Southport Grocery’s Banana Bread Pancake. It was creamy and the vanilla “syrup” made it one of the most amazing sweet treats I have ever had.
Hilary: My favorite sweet treat was the French Toast Bites from Wood! I am not a big sweet person either but using whipped cream instead of syrup and adding apples and almonds to the mix was definitely a winner in my book.
Ashley: This was another category where I immediately knew what to choose. Dry Hop was definitely my favorite burger of the year. The patty was moist and cooked perfectly. And all of the toppings made it mouthwatering-ly tasty. Another meal that I cannot seem to forget about…
Hilary: No contest! It’s DryHop, for sure.
The Bloody Best
Ashley: My vote for the best Bloody Mary is the Bloody Caesar from Nellcôte. I did not actually order the drink, Hilary did, but I tried it and it was delicious! The clam juice gave it a great flavor and I liked that it was smooth without a bunch of spices floating around.
Hilary: I had to go two different ways with my choice for the best Bloody Mary. My top choice was an unconventional bloody from Beatrix called the Spicy Herbal Bloody Mary. I loved that it was citrusy. It was not as heavy as a traditional Bloody Mary so I was able to drink more than one without feeling completely stuffed. However, my favorite for a classic Bloody Mary was Siena Tavern. It had great toppings too.
Best Meat Dish
Ashley: Let’s be honest, I love meat and therefore had a tough time picking just one dish here as well. But, Green Street Smoked Meats won out with the best brisket I have ever had. It was so flavorful and I even liked the fatty parts. I also really liked Longman & Eagle’s Chicken & Waffle. The chicken was super moist and it had just the right amount of batter on it to fry.
Hilary: This was a tough category for me as well! I ultimately had to choose the Pork Cheeks from Juliette Kitchen & Bar. Everything went together so well, it was a very comforting dish. My second choice was the Steak & Egg from Sola. THAT STEAK WAS AWESOME but the rest of the dish did not rise to the level of being my first choice.
Best Brunch Spot
Ashley: After having great meals and experiences at so many restaurants, it was really hard to choose just one. But, I had to go with Nellcôte because everything we had there was amazing. I liked all of the food and both of the drinks I had made it on the list. Coming in a close second is The Bongo Room. Even though nothing specifically made it on the list, we have never had a bad meal there!
Hilary: The ultimate award!! When I tell people that I do a food blog with my sister, everyone always asks me what my favorite brunch spot is. I have known all along that it was Nellcôte! Many of the items we had made the list, and the ones that did not were close. Also, I liked the décor of the restaurant. It was trendy without feeling pretentious. I want to go back soon!
I love that we started this blog because it forces us to try new places and new things. Before this, I had an unbelievable to-do list with hardly anything crossed off during the 4 years I lived here without Ashley. Now, I am slowly but surely ticking them off. One thing is for sure, we have some amazing food in Chicago…I cannot wait to see where year 2 takes us!