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!
Hilary: Ashley gave me a gift card to Longman & Eagle for my birthday so we made the trek out to Logan Square for breakfast last Saturday morning. We heard that the wait to get in for brunch can get crazy long, so we got there at 10am. Not only did we not have to wait for a table, we also found a parking spot right out front! The restaurant is small and the tables are placed pretty close together. We sat right next to another table of two and it was a little awkward to be so close to them but we quickly adapted. Inside it looked like an old house that was converted into a restaurant, complete with older tables and chairs. There was music playing but it got so loud and crowded that I could not hear what was playing.
I had to try the old-fashioned (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cherry & Orange & Old Fashioned bitters, Demerara Sugar, Citrus Zest) even though it was pretty early in the day and I did not regret my decision at all. It was excellent. The bourbon was smooth and the drink was a little sweeter than some others I have had. I liked the sweetness and commented on how delicious it was after every sip. I was feeling gooooood after one drink, but ordered a second one anyway. Luckily, Ashley was driving.
Ashley: I stuck with a brunch favorite and got a bloody mary. I was underwhelmed with it. It seemed a little bland and not really spicy. There was also a distinct flavor that I could not figure out right away. Hilary had a sip and said it tasted garlicky. That was definitely it. It was too much garlic for my taste.
Hilary: The dish that I tried first was the Chicken & Waffles (Fried Chicken & Waffle, Sweet Potato & Pork Belly Hash, Maple Syrup.) It was SO good! The chicken skin was crunchy, the meat tender and juicy. It has a slight sweetness to it, like they sprinkled sugar or something on top. The waffle was a standard waffle that went great with the chicken and syrup. The squash hash was pleasant, but I did not love the pork belly in it. It seemed extraneous to me. Overall, I thought this dish was great and would order it again!
Ashley: I loved this dish as well. The chicken was amazing. The skin was crunchy but pretty thin so it did not overwhelm the moist meat. Unlike Hilary, I LOVED the squash hash, especially the pork belly. I thought the combination of the salty pork with the sweet squash was great. As usual, I tried everything separately and then with different combinations. My favorite was eating everything together. The flavors just blended wonderfully. I, too, would order this again.
When we were looking at the menu, I was immediately drawn to the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe (Wild Boar Sloppy Joe, Crispy Sage & Onion, Pickled Jalapeño served with Beef Fat Fries.) I love a good sloppy joe and my mom always makes them for me when I visit her in Florida. I even sing the famous ‘Lunch Lady Land‘ song by Adam Sandler when I talk about them…”sloppy joe, slop sloppy joe.” Luckily, Hilary was open to trying it.
It was definitely not the prettiest looking sandwich and I was a bit thrown off by the texture of the meat. It was a little mushy and tasted a gamey to me. I tried to get bites with the jalapeño and crispy sage and it was much better then. My favorite was the crispy sage. The fries were just normal fries to me. I could not tell they were made in beef fat.
Hilary: I was not thrilled with the sloppy joe. Not only was it unpleasing to the eye, the taste was not all that exciting either. The whole jalapeño on top was a little confusing. We weren’t sure what to do with it, so we cut it up in order to get it onto more bites. The onions were not crispy and the meat fell out everywhere (I know, I know, it’s a sloppy joe, but still…) The crispy sage was interesting, but seemed out of place to me and the fries…well, they were fries so I ate them. I would not recommend this dish. Other people around us had other things that looked much more delicious and exciting (like the Whole Hog Crepinette.)
My experience with L&E was pretty good. Although, I cannot imagine waiting more than an hour for a table and feeling like it was worth it. But, hey, it happens so some people out there must think so!
Ashley: I also do not know if I would wait long to eat here. But, I would definitely go back at 10am another time to try more items on the menu!
Hilary: Green Street Smoked Meats is a cool addition to the West Loop. It has a casual vibe with picnic tables, a cafeteria-style food line, and string lights all over. It’s like a good ole (crowded) barbeque in someone’s back yard. It has a hipster vibe but with the typical West Loop clientele, mostly people getting off work.
When we first got there, we were told it would take about 20 minutes to get through the food line, so I got a drink to carry with me while I waited. I went for the Sweet Tea Bourbon (bourbon, sweet tea, lemon.) The bar tender tried to overcharge me by saying the drink was $13 even though the menu said it was $10. I am not sure what that was all about but regardless, the drink was delicious and I ordered another later. It was not super sweet, just refreshing and the lemon disguised the bourbon enough for Ashley to like it too! (She doesn’t like bourbon at all.) She decided to get the same thing. I wanted to get some pickle back shots, but the bar was pretty crowded the whole time we were there so we opted not to.
As we went through the hot food line, everyone we encountered was very nice. One of the guys was telling jokes and pointed out a funny Elvis picture sitting at the counter.
Ashley: We wanted to try a few different options, but at the same time didn’t want to get TOO much food. So we settled on the hot link, smoked chicken leg, sliced brisket, pickled vegetables, and Frito pie. Everything on the menu sounded so good, it was hard to pick just a few things.
Hilary: GSSM has 4 different sauces for you to choose from. They have coffee, spicy, vinegar, and Texas squeeze. We tried all 4 of them to see what they were like and thought they were all pretty good. Despite there being a sauce that is actually named “spicy”, the vinegar sauce was the spiciest of them all. The Texas squeeze is probably closest to what I am used to growing up near St. Louis…dark in color and a little sweet. I didn’t really care for the coffee because it did not taste like coffee and was very similar to the spicy sauce. I liked combining the vinegar with the other flavors.
Ashley: The vinegar sauce was my favorite while the Texas squeeze was my least favorite, because it was on the sweeter side.
The hot link was not as spicy as I expected. In fact, I thought it was a little sweet. Although, the fennel seeds in it gave it a nice Italian flavoring. It was good!
Hilary: I actually thought the hot link had a good kick to it. I definitely tasted black peppercorn, among other spices. I liked the hot link best when I dipped it in the Texas squeeze sauce.
Even though the menu says “smoked chicken leg”, this is not just a leg. There is also a thigh and it is plenty to share. It was a great price for the amount of chicken we got. The chicken was very tender and juicy and the skin was nice and salty, although almost too salty on some bites. That says a lot coming from me, considering I love me some salt!
Ashley: The chicken was really moist and had a good flavor even without sauce. I did not get the same saltiness as Hilary.
Hilary: The brisket was so tender and flavorful! I did not love the end pieces because they were very fatty and had a lot of rub so it was too salty but the middle pieces were excellent. I didn’t even use any sauce because it was delicious on its own!
Ashley: The brisket was by far my favorite. It practically melted in my mouth and had a ton of flavor. I liked it both by itself and with sauces. I actually thought the fatty pieces were really good…which is odd for me considering I do not like the texture of fatty meat most of the time.
Hilary: I did not know what frito pie was going into the meal but Ashley wanted to try it, so we did. It was a bag of fritos opened up, with chili and jalapenos on top. I am not a big fan of fritos to begin with and the chili was mostly beans so I did not love that either. I took a bite or two and let Ashley have the rest. I did not get the hype on this one.
Ashley: I had heard from people that Frito pie was good. I wasn’t sure how to eat it though…was I supposed to pick it up like nachos or eat it with a fork? I decided to go for it with a fork. The chili on top was really good and the jalapenos added spice. I thought it was pretty good and ended up eating most of it.
The veggies were spicier and crunchier than I expected. I guess I assumed that they would be mushy because they were pickled. The carrot was my favorite in the mix. The sweetness of the carrot calmed the spice and blended perfectly.
Hilary: I love pickled vegetables! The context I normally have them in is at a taco stand where you can get some on the side but it is good to know they are also great with barbeque. These were very vinegary but semi-sweet with a nice kick at the end. The cauliflower was my favorite, but I also loved the carrots. It reminded me of the spicy carrots, one of my favorite dishes, from Da Kine Diego in Satellite Beach, FL.
Ashley: I would love to try this again because there was so much on the menu that we did not get. It is such a great atmosphere and fun space to enjoy as well.
Ashley: The last time we went to Kinmont, it was for dinner and we enjoyed our meal so much. So, when they announced they would be serving brunch, we knew we had to check it out right away. The vibe of the restaurant was quite different during the day. Instead of the dim romantic lighting, they had the windows open to let in natural light and the lights were turned up a bit brighter. The music was also a bit louder and more upbeat than at dinner time. We loved the atmosphere.
I ordered a mimosa (Fresh OJ, Bubbles) to start the meal off right. I thought it was a little sour but Hilary tried it and said it was strong, just the way she likes it! It may have been that or the fresh squeezed juice was less sweet than I am used to.
Hilary: I decided to go with a Pimm’s Cup (Pimms, Lemon, Mint Syrup, Cucumber Soda Water) that afternoon and it was delicious. Very refreshing, with mostly cucumber flavor, but carbonated. It is the perfect patio drink!
There were so many delicious options available but given that Kinmont is known for their seafood, we had to get something from that part of the menu. We agreed on the Kinmont Bagel & Lox (Cold Smoked Arctic Char, toasted bagel, scallion chevre, cucumber, red onion, capers, dill.) The fish was very fresh, great quality. I thought the dill on top overpowered some of the other flavors so I ended up taking it off. I enjoyed it more that way. I loved the capers’ saltiness and the onions added great texture. I have to admit, I did not love the scallion chevre so overall, this dish was good but not super exciting. I would probably try something else next time.
Ashley: I have always been intrigued by bagel and lox but afraid to try it because of my texture issues. Kinmont seemed like the right place to give it a shot. I found it interesting that Kinmont used goat cheese and not cream cheese, like some other places. And when the dish arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fish was on top. I definitely recognized the excellent quality of the fish, however, the mushy texture was too much for me. As a solution, I took bites with a small amount of fish (more for Hilary!) on top and that worked well. The cheese was really creamy and had a great flavor. I could not really taste the cucumber but it added a nice crunch. I am sure this dish would be really delicious for someone without texture issues.
For our second entree, we got the Pleasant Ridge Reserve Frittata (egg whites, local asparagus, ramps, arugula) served with crispy fingerling potatoes. I’ll be honest, I was expecting a larger portion when we ordered this. I must be too accustomed to American portions! When I bit into it though, it was such a wonderful surprise. The egg white was really soft and I loved the arugula on top. It added such a nice flavor and really made it a nice, light dish. Perfect for brunch. Plus, you can never go wrong with asparagus! I would absolutely get this again.
Hilary: I loved the frittata! It was very light and fresh with excellent quality ingredients – sensing a them yet? =) I especially loved the asparagus. There was a slight hint of lemon and I really enjoyed that. The potatoes on the side were great too. Given that the word crispy was in the title, I would have expected them to be a little more so but there was just the right amount of salt and it was a great amount to split between two people.
Ashley: We had been talking about the Banana Bread French Toast (Parker House rolls, sweet custard, cherry compote) ever since we saw a picture of it on Kinmont’s instagram (@kinmontchicago) so of course we had to try it! To make us feel like it was normal to have three entrees between two people, we ordered this as our dessert. :) It smelled so good when it arrived at the table! The texture was a perfect compromise for Hilary and my different tastes…I like bread pudding mushy and Hilary likes it a little more cooked. The sweet custard was a thin sauce on top, along with cherries. It was warm and delicious and the perfect ending to our meal.
Hilary: The French toast was very good. The portion was not TOO huge, but I still could not imagine having it as my main dish. Having one slice was plenty to fill me up! I liked that the cherry compote added a slight tang and the custard sauce was delicious. I kept sopping my bites in both sauces to get the best flavor. We had one slice left over that we absolutely could not finish. If only they had a side portion or a “solo” portion like some other restaurants, that would be perfect!
Our brunch was so delicious, and aside from the french toast, a pretty light meal! The french toast definitely sent me over the edge, but was totally worth it. We’ll be back!