Our Spain Adventure: Seville

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!

Waiting to board the airplane!

Waiting to board the airplane!

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. 

Cathedral

Cathedral

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!

Metrapol Parasol

Metrapol Parasol

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.

Tomato Tower

Tomato Tower

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.

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

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.

Moroccan Pastry

Moroccan Pastry

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.

Tortilla

Tortilla

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!

When Chefs Collide

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. 

Ricotta Donut Holes

Ricotta Donut Holes

Blueberry Lemon Scone

Blueberry Lemon Scone

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.

Bacon Bloody Mary

Bacon Bloody Mary

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.

Bellini

Bellini

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. 

Poutine Burger

Poutine Burger

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.

Boystown Omelette

Boystown Omelette

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!

Bison, Turkey, and Beef! Oh my!

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!

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

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! 

Cheddar & Scallion Fries

Cheddar & Scallion Fries

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.

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

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.

#5 Bison Burger

#5 Bison Burger

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.

#11 with Turkey

#11 with Turkey

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. 

Special Edition: Best of Year One

The Savory Sisters Best of 2014

2014 Special Edition: Best of Year One

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

Garden Sizzlin' Skillet

Garden Sizzlin’ Skillet

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.

Sunnyside-Up Organic Egg Pizza

Sunnyside-Up Organic Egg Pizza

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

Door County Whitefish Chowder

Door County Whitefish Chowder

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.

Rushing Waters Trout

Rushing Waters Trout

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.

Hangover Cure

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

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?

Poutine

Poutine

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.

Best Cocktail

Mimosa

Mimosa

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.

Rusty Miner

Rusty Miner

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.

Best Bacon

Maple Syrup Braised Publican Bacon

Maple Syrup Braised Publican Bacon

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.

Sweetest Treat

Chocolate Almond Croissant

Chocolate Almond Croissant

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.

French Toast Bites

French Toast Bites

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.

Best Burger

Burger

Burger

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

Bloody Caesar

Bloody Caesar

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.

Spicy Herbal Bloody Mary

Spicy Herbal Bloody Mary

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

Sliced Brisket

Sliced Brisket

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.

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

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!

Bourbon at 10AM is Perfectly Acceptable

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.

Old-Fashioned

Old-Fashioned

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.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

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.

Chicken & Waffles

Chicken & Waffles

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.

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe

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!

Get Yer Meat Sweats!

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. 

Sweet Tea Bourbon

Sweet Tea Bourbon

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.

Our tray of food

Our tray of food

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.

Hot Link

Hot Link

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.

Smoked Chicken Leg

Smoked Chicken Leg

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. 

Sliced Brisket

Sliced Brisket

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.

Frito Pie

Frito Pie

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.  

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled Vegetables

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. 

They Reeled Us Back In!

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.

Mimosa

Mimosa

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.

Pimm's Cup

Pimm’s Cup

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!

Kinmont Bagel & Lox

Kinmont Bagel & Lox

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.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve Frittata

Pleasant Ridge Reserve Frittata

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.

Banana Bread French Toast

Banana Bread French Toast

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!

Treating Mom to The Bongo Room

Hilary: Last week, our mom was in town for a visit so we treated her to brunch at The Bongo Room in Andersonville.  Ashley and I have been to this location a couple of times and we love it, especially the white chocolate pretzel pancake!!  Although, we did not order any sweets this time.

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea

I was not in the mood for alcohol that afternoon (I know, shocking!) so I ordered my typical week day beverage of earl grey tea.  I like to drink it with cream and sugar. Mmm. Mmm.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

Ashley: I wasn’t planning on having alcohol that afternoon either but I saw the bloody marys that our table neighbors ordered and they just looked too delicious.  I was particularly excited for the cheese cube and salami.  They did not disappoint.  The cheese was a creamy pepper jack and it was worth ordering the bloody just for that!  I shared one with Hilary and she agreed.

Omelette

Chorizo, Avocado, and Potato Omelette

As Hilary said before, we did not order the white chocolate pretzel pancake this time. I was a little sad because It. Was. Amazing.  Another item that I love is the chorizo, avocado, and potato omelette with cheese. I ordered it for my meal. The chorizo was nice and spicy and the avocado added a creamy cooling factor and the flavors together were delicious.  I also liked eating the egg with the avocado.  I mean really, what isn’t good with avocado?  I will say that my eggs were a tad overcooked but they were still good.  The omelette was packed full and I loved when I could get a bite that had a little bit of everything in it.  I highly recommend this dish.  

Our niece got banana & strawberry pancakes and I had a little taste.  Even though there was no syrup on them, I was surprised that I enjoyed them as much as I did.  They were nice and fluffy and had a little hint of banana in them.  They definitely know how to do breakfast at The Bongo Room.

Deconstructed Lobster Roll Benedict

Deconstructed Lobster Roll Benedict

Hilary: For my meal, I ordered the Deconstructed Lobster Roll Benedict from the specials menu.  I love lobster rolls so this was an obvious choice for me.  Although, it was a little odd at first that it was warm, but it was very good.  There was a lot of lobster on top and it was seasoned well.  The fresh herbs in the hollandaise were a nice touch.  Sometimes a hollaindaise sauce can be overpowering in a benedict but this complemented  the dish rather than steal the show.  For my side, I got potatoes with feta on top.  It was so delicious.  They Definitely do not skimp on the cheese.  I love that I always have potatoes left over and they are just as delicious when I reheat them later for a savory snack.

The Bongo Room is always a good bet, even if you have to wait for a table.  Everything I have had is delicious!  I do wish they took reservations but I am willing to wait.

Ashley: I couldn’t agree more…this place is definitely worth the wait and I can’t wait to go back again!

Buffalo Soldier

By: Hilary

A few weeks ago, I was out on the West Coast for weekend 2 of Coachella.  One of my best friends, Hannah, lives in Orange County with her boyfriend so when Coachella was over, I stayed a couple of extra days to hang out with them.  As a treat, Hannah suggested we all check out Juliette Kitchen + Bar in Newport Beach for dinner one evening.

It was in the 30s in Chicago at the time, so the 70 degree weather was heavenly to me.  I wanted to sit outside on the patio so I could soak up every second of nice weather while I was there.  It was great because the patio was covered on the sides to block the wind and we were seated next to a fire torch to keep warm as it got chilly in the evening.  They had a great playlist going–we thought it might have been an Arcade Fire Pandora station.

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate

Cheese & Charcuterie Plate

For our meal, we decided to order a bunch of things to share.  First, we got a Cheese and Charcuterie Plate with Salumi smoked paprika salami, Cowgirl Creamery’s St. Pat, and Cypress Grove Bermuda Triangle.  The plate came with grilled baguette slices, a housemade seasonal jam, raisins, marinated olives, and spiced almonds.  My favorite combination was the Bermuda Triangle (one of my favorite cheeses) with the seasonal jam.  We were not sure what the jam was made of, maybe guava or berry, but it was luscious.  I also loved the salami!  It had just a tiny kick at the end that was great with the St. Pat.  The olives were very tasty, and extra flavorful from whatever they were marinated in.

Scallops

Scallops

Next was the Scallops (salsify, black olives, lemon, micro celery, butternut squash broth.)  They were seared well on the outside but silky smooth inside and encrusted in black peppercorn which really boosted the flavor.  We wish there had been more scallops to go around!

P.E.I. Mussels

P.E.I. Mussels

I had mussels once before but I wanted to give them another shot so we ordered the P.E.I. Mussels (sweet onion, chorizo, herbs, harissa butter.)  It sounded very different from what most places offer.  I will admit, I did not love the texture of the mussels but the sauce was deliciously smoky and roasted from the chorizo and harissa.  I was content dipping the grilled bread in the sauce and letting Hannah and Matt eat the mussels.  There were so many; it was a pretty large portion!

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

Next up was the Pork Cheeks (burdock root, kabocha squash, roasted shallots, braising jus, apple, scallions, chili oil.)  This was my favorite dish of the night!  The pork literally fell apart with tenderness.  The dish, as a whole, had flavors and textures similar to a pot roast.  It was hearty and comforting.  Black peppercorn stood out in the gravy and the apple added a nice unexpected tang to the dish.

Farro Risotto

Farro Risotto

We also tried the Farro Risotto (butternut squash, beet greens, fennel, pecorino, parsley, thyme, lemon.)  To me, this dish was unexpected for a risotto.  Rather than being creamy and rich, it was a chunky and acidic.  I liked the texture that the farro added and while there was some creaminess from the pecorino, you could definitely taste lemon or some other acid in the sauce.

Roasted Quail

Roasted Quail

Finally, we had the Roasted Quail (duck-confit, mascarpone, cous cous, mustard greens, Jerusalem artichoke, pistachio, molasses chicken jus.)  I never had quail before but was pleased to find out that it tasted and had the same texture as chicken, a bird I am very familiar with.  The meat was tender and moist and the kale was very tasty.  The kale ended up being my favorite part of the dish!

Buffalo Soldier

Buffalo Soldier

By this time in the meal, it was dark out and a little chilly but the fire torch nearby kept us very comfortable and added a relaxing element.  When asked if we wanted dessert, I did not think I could eat anything else but said I would order a dessert beverage.  When our server asked what I wanted, I sang “Buffalo Soldier” (buffalo trace, bourbon, blue bottle coffee liqueur, cardamom syrup, porter foam) to the tune of the Bob Marley song.  She laughed and said no one had ever done that before!  The drink was served cold and while the prominent flavors were bourbon and cardamom, it was very well balanced; I did not feel that one ingredient overpowered any other.  Very smooth and a little creamy.

Looking back at the meal, my favorite dishes were the pork cheeks, scallops, and cheese and charcuterie but I loved the whole experience!  Not just because everything was delicious, but because I was able to share it with two great friends.  Being on vacation is always pleasant, but even better when you spend it with people who make you happy.  =)

Easter Brunch

By: Ashley

Me & Dorey

Me & Dorey

This year for Easter, my cousin Dorey and I decided to look for a place to have a nice Easter brunch since neither of us were going home for the holiday. I searched for ‘Easter brunch in Chicago’ and a list came up with some great places. We chose to go to Davanti Enoteca in River North because they were promoting $5 bloody marys and mimosas. Sold! I made a reservation for 12:30 but Dorey and I arrived really early, and were super hungry. So, we asked if we could sit down early. They were very nice and accommodated our request.

My Bloody Mary

My Bloody Mary

When we first sat down, we found out that they actually did not have $5 bloodys and mimosas, which was a little disappointing. But they did have a bloody mary bar, so we got that. They brought over a glass filled with ice and vodka and then we were on our way to make our signature bloodys. The bloody mary bar had tons of options. We could pretty much get any fixin’ we wanted. They even had jars of different salts and seasoning mixes, which I assume were for the rim of your glass. I do not know how we were supposed to do that, though, since our glasses already had stuff in them. I was a little overwhelmed because a line was forming behind me so I just grabbed a bunch of stuff and put it in my drink. I chose to add green olives, a red pepper stuffed with cream cheese, a piece of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and of course, a piece of bacon. It was really good…and fun to be able to make my own.

Davanti Burger

Davanti Burger

For my meal, I got the Davanti Burger (special blend beef burger, bacon jam, roasted tomato, cheese curd, arugula, roasted garlic mayo, and shoestring fries.) I ordered it medium but it was a little burnt on the outside. I ended up liking it though because it had a nice grilled flavor and crunch. The bun was toasted, which was nice. I could not really taste the cheese or garlic mayo but when I bit into the roasted tomato, it was such a nice pop of flavor! I do not usually like roasted tomatoes but this added such a great touch. The burger was a little messy to eat but I think sometimes with burgers, the messier, the better. I liked the shoestring fries on the side. They were a great texture, somewhere between soft & crisp.

We really enjoyed our meal at Davanti Enoteca and it was such a nice day that Dorey and I spent the day outside. It made for a very nice Easter Sunday.

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