Ashley: Hilary and I headed out to Logan Square to check out Fat Rice. It has a lot of hype, so we wanted to know what it was all about! We read about how they serve a blend of the food of Macau and “kind of Portugese food“. The night we went, I wasn’t much in the mood for an alcoholic beverage tonight, so I opted to just get a coke. When they served it, it came in a glass bottle and the straw they gave me was huge! One big gulp and I could’ve finished the whole bottle.We started off with some complimentary Sweet & Sour Curry Cabbage. The cabbage was so crunchy and it had the perfect mix of sweet with a little kick to it. Every bite was a little different in that it didn’t always have the same amount of sweet, sour, or spicy, so it was exciting every bite!
Hilary: I loved this little pre-meal snack! It was crunchy, vinegary, and tangy with a kick at the back of the throat. There were some red cherry peppers in it that were my favorite bite.
Ashley: Next we had the Fried Rice (bacon, sweet corn, egg, thai basil, lemon aioli). Our server described is as a BLT in fried rice form. I didn’t necessarily get that because it was more than that but it was deeeeelicious none the less. I loved this dish so much that I just kept eating instead of taking notes. The first bite I took had a big chunk of crispy bacon, which was amazing. The rice was cooked perfectly and there were big chunks of egg, which I love in my fried rice. The pork also had great flavor and the corn and onions gave it a bit of sweetness. There was also cucumber in it, which was a little strange, but I love cucumbers, so I didn’t mind. I did think that this dish was surprisingly light considering what all was in it. They served the rice with a hot sauce made of ghost, habanero, and chili peppers (hence our title). For those of you that are diehard Friends fans, you have may have gotten our title…if not, we suggest watching this clip starting at 2:50. This is one of our favorite episodes from Friends and we reference this specific scene A LOT. I tried a little bit of the sauce by itself before I put it on anything. It had a slightly sweet flavor to it but with a big kick at the end. It took a few seconds to hit. At first I wasn’t going to put it on my food but Hilary said how good it was, so I ended up trying it towards the end of this dish. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.
Hilary: I thought the BLT idea was creative, but there were a lot more ingredients in the dish than just bacon, lettuce, and tomato. In addition to the ingredients listed in the menu description, there was also tomato, cucumber, onion, and bean sprouts. While the concept behind this dish fell short for me, the taste did not! The bacon, especially, added some depth and flavor to the dish. The only ingredient I didn’t love was the cucumber. Normally, I love cucumber because of the texture but in this dish, it was a little off. Too crunchy and cut into too big of chunks. They served this with a bottle of hot sauce called Diabo Ghost Pepper Sauce. It was no joke. I was very careful and only put a couple of drops on my plate of rice and it was perfect because it added a lot of flavor to the rice without being so spicy that I couldn’t enjoy the food. I really liked this dish!Next, we had the Porco Bafassa (turmeric roast pork shoulder, carrots, fingerling potato, purslane, spring onion). This dish, to me, was like a slight twist on the classic pot roast and potatoes. The turmeric was the main difference in flavor profile and the fact that it was pork instead of beef. The gravy was so savory and salty. I was scraping my plate to get more juice with each bite. Even the fat on the meat was very flavorful. The meat was tender enough to cut easily with a fork but it didn’t fall apart completely. I liked that they gave a hefty amount of meat but there were too few carrots and potatoes. I loved this dish.
Ashley: I really loved this dish. The gravy was my favorite part. It was so savory and had the perfect amount of saltiness to it. The pork was so tender, I barely had to use my knife. It tasted just like a good pot roast with the potatoes and carrots. The potatoes were cut super thick. They were cooked pretty well, a little firmer than I prefer but still tasty. At the end of the dish, I was using my last few bites of meat to soak up all of the gravy.Our last dish was Po Kok Gai (Portuguese Chicken – potato, chorizo, coconut curry). I was a little worried about this one because it had coconut curry in it…and you may remember from our Parachute post that I finally decided I just don’t like curry. But it sounded so good, that I wanted to try it anyway. It was really coconutty, which I expected. The chorizo was a little hard to chew, like maybe it was slightly overdone or something, but still good. I loved the egg and black olives. The chicken itself was really moist and flavorful as well. I forgot that there were potatoes in there, so when I found them at the bottom of the dish, it was like a nice surprise. They were tasty as well.
Hilary: I thought this dish was only okay. It was maybe a little too coconutty for my taste. I liked that the cherry peppers and chorizo gave it a nice kick to take away some of the sweetness. The chorizo was nice and smoky. I liked the egg and chorizo a lot and eating the chicken with the peppers and cabbage. The crouton and olives seemed very random to me. In fact, this dish had such an odd combination of ingredients. The chicken still had skin on it and it ended up a bit soggy in the curry broth. That was very disappointing. Who likes soggy skin anyway? haha It was definitely interesting and like nothing I’ve had before.
I enjoyed Fat Rice and would go back. I now know that the dishes are a little pricey considering the amount of food you get, but it’s all about the experience! We did not get the signature dish, Arroz Gordo (Fat Rice) because we were concerned it would be too much for the two of us to share (based on the high cost and laundry list of ingredients) but I think we could have taken it down. It wasn’t nearly as big as I thought it would need to be for all that it came with.
Ashley: I really enjoyed Fat Rice. I felt like we got a good mix of flavors in our meal and everything tasted great. I would love to go back again sometime to try different options on the menu!
Hilary: Beverly Kim is another chef I recognized from Top Chef, back when I faithfully watched each episode. I was excited to hear she was starting Parachute with her husband. It came highly recommended, so we made sure to put it at the top of our list of places to check out. I really like that her and her husband brought their cultures together to make a Korean American menu. My first impressions were that it was so, so dark and very loud…from people talking and laughing and also the music. It is a very trendy place, especially late on a Friday night.
Ashley: I had never heard of Parachute before but I was excited to try it out based on Hilary’s excitement for the restaurant. Everyone that worked there was extremely nice. Our server helped us pick out a bottle of rose and throughout the night, all of the food came out super fast.
Hilary: Lately, I’ve been getting more into oysters, so we went with the market oysters (soju granita). I used to be grossed out by oysters but now I’m coming around. I’ve had some that I liked and some that I didn’t, so I like to taste different ones to get a better idea of what I like. These oysters were so fresh and crisp. There was absolutely no grit, it was great! The shaved ice on the side was very bitter. At the time, I didn’t know soju was a Korean beverage (I had to look it up) so I had a couple of guesses as to what the granita could be based on how it tasted: vinegar, melon, or some combination thereof.
Ashley: I am not quite to the point of enjoying oysters yet…but I decided to try it anyway. After all, what good is a food blog if you don’t try different things, right? I put a lot of lemon on mine in anticipation of the fishy taste. I was also psyching myself out by thinking about the texture that I thought it would have. I did not like the soju granita. It was too bitter…and I probably put more on than I should have. At first I tried to chew it but I just couldn’t…so I just swallowed it whole. I’m sure this was a great oyster for those that like them…it was just a texture thing for me.
Next, we ordered the house pickles (kimchi, chili chayote, spicy cucumber). My favorite of the three was the spicy cucumber. It reminded me of homemade pickles. It still had the cucumber flavor with an added spice, which I loved. The kimchi was good. It had a vinegar and garlic flavor with a little spice. And I love a good kimchi. I did not like the chili chayote because it had cilantro in it…enough said. Ha.
Hilary: My favorite was the chili chayote. It was super crunchy and a tad smoky with celery as the prominent flavor. There was cilantro, vinegar, and sugar in the brine. I was obsessed! The spicy cucumbers were okay, mostly because I love cucumbers. But other than being spicy, they didn’t have much flavor. And the heat didn’t even hit until after I swallowed. I liked the sweet carrots mixed in. The kimchi was tangy with a kick. Not quite as spicy as the cucumbers but almost.
We made sure to order the baked potato bing bread (bacon, scallion, sour cream butter) because everyone seems to RAVE about it. It tasted like a baked potato but with a very crunchy crust. I really liked the toasty sesame seeds on top. The sour cream butter didn’t taste much like sour cream to me, pretty much just butter, so I was a little disappointed. Overall, this was very good, but I’m not quite sure I would give it as high of a review as everyone else. Maybe just a case of having too high of expectations. I will say that, for some reason, I liked the bread more once it cooled off.
Ashley: I loved this!! It was my favorite dish of the night. It tasted like a potato skin but lighter because of the bread. The burnt ends of the bread gave it a nice crunch. I do agree with Hilary that the sour cream butter tasted more like butter but I did also taste a bit of sour cream and thought that it really finished off the dish. I could eat this again and again.
Next we tried the heirloom tomatoes (tonnato, percorino, furikake). This sounded like a nice light, refreshing dish and the rest of our meal was a little heavier. The tonnato is a tuna based sauce, so it was extremely fishy tasting. It didn’t bother me that much though because I love tuna. The furikake on top was my favorite part. I loved the crunchy texture on top of the firm tomato. Even with the different flavors and textures, you could taste the freshness of the tomatoes. I enjoyed this dish.
Hilary: I absolutely love heirloom tomatoes so I really wanted to try this dish. I was wary that it came with tonnato, because it might be too fishy for me, but went for it anyway. It was very interesting. It did taste fishy but not too much. There was just a teeny bit of salt and I wished there had been a little more. The bits that look like rice were super crunchy and I loved the added texture. Overall, I liked this dish.
The pork belly and mung bean pancake (kimchi, black garlic, hen egg, pineapple) was another dish I had very high expectations for based on reviews. Unfortunately, this was a slight miss for me. The bottom of the pancake was burnt and hard which made it tough to chew. It was also hard around the edges. I LOVED the warm pineapple in the dish. I ended up eating all of it, happily. There were a couple of sauces drizzled on, one was black garlic and the other was kimchi. I thought they made the dish look pretty. I could definitely taste the spice coming through in the kimchi sauce.
Ashley: This one was interesting to me. I think the whole pancake description was throwing me off. Essentially, it tasted like a meat pancake. It was very savory. There was pineapple on top and that helped balance out the savory. The pancake did have a good crisp to it. There was a kimchi sauce on it that I could really taste but I couldn’t really taste the black garlic sauce. I liked it with the egg but my favorite combination was when I had a bite with everything together.
Hilary: We made a last minute decision to add the corn dumplings (collard greens, baby corn, green curry) on to our order because I kept coming back to it on the menu and who knows when we’ll be able to visit again?? So, we got them. I’m really glad we did! The dumplings themselves were similar to cornbread, kind of dense and heavy, but they were sitting in a luxurious sweet green curry sauce. The collard leaves were fried and crispy. This last dish definitely put me over the edge from full to stuffed but it was worth it.
Ashley: I agree with Hilary. I’m glad we got this because I also thought it sounded amazing. I was expecting something different when I saw dumpling but it was like a really good cornbread. I was not a fan of the curry…I have yet to find one that I do like though, so take my review for what it’s worth. The collard greens were bitter but mixed with the sweet of the dumpling, it blended together well.
I did enjoy the meal and I was glad we got to try this place out. I thought everyone that worked there was amazing and I would recommend this place to others. Especially to try the baked potato bing bread. I would go back just for that!
This meal was a bit hit or miss for me. I loved the oysters, chili chayote pickles and corn dumplings. And I really enjoyed trying new flavors, ingredients, and textures. I think we got to see what Parachute was all about! I do wish there had been just a bit more light and privacy (we were seated between 2 other tables and were sitting so close together) though.
Ashley: I was really excited to go out the night we went to Vincent because it was such a gorgeous night. When we got there, they had one table left on the patio, so we took it. They gave us bread that came wrapped in paper, which reminded me of a cute little café somewhere. The bread was warm with a crunchy crust and soft middle. It was delicious and I had to stop eating it so I wouldn’t get full before we even ordered!
I was in the mood for something light and fun to drink. I decided to go with the Bubbles & Flowers (bubbles, elderflower, lemon peel). The drink tasted a lot like champagne, which worked for me because that was really the main reason I got it. It was a little on the sweet side but it was really the perfect drink for the mood I was in.
Hilary: Ashley is right, it was the perfect summer evening for a lovely dinner outside. This place was very classy and elegant feeling while still having a casual vibe. I picked the Spirit Animal (parce bourbon barrel rum, cynar, lime, mint, orange) to start off. I liked the combination of gin and mint…it made it a little refreshing but overall the drink was a little too stiff for me.
Ashley: Our first dish was the Polenta (grilled asparagus and spring onion, pickled shallot, white beech mushroom, lemon mushroom glaze, shaved parmesan, crispy parsley, poached egg). It was a lot lighter than I expected. It had a creamy taste with a little cheesy flavor. The asparagus tasted like it was grilled. The egg on top was good but not as exciting as I expected. I really liked this dish though.
Hilary: The polenta was so creamy! I thought the asparagus was cooked very well…a little tender but maintained a bit of crunch. The mushrooms had really skinny stalks…I don’t know if I had ever had this type of mushroom before but I really liked it! Much better than a baby bella or cremini, in my opinion because it had a better texture. I thought there were fried sprigs of thyme mixed in, but the menu said parsley so maybe I was confused. It was interesting. The onion was a little under cooked which made the bites with onion a little pungent. Overall, this was a great dish and, I think, without the egg it would be even better. There were so many fresh, seasonal ingredients that the egg was unnecessary.
Next, we had the Burrata (spring onion & green garlic mojo, arugula, sorrel, cara cara orange, shaved radish, shaved jalapeno, maldon sea salt, balsamic reduction), which was one of my favorites! When we first got the dish, I was a little disappointed to see we didn’t have any toast or anything to eat the burrata on. But, we dug in with our forks and I didn’t even end up missing the toast! Everything was so fresh and wonderful on its own. All of the crisp vegetables were so light and nice. I loved the bite of the onion with the sweetness of the orange and the saltiness of the cheese. Everything went very well together.
Ashley: I am never disappointed when I get burrata. It was so creamy. You could really taste the jalapeno in the sauce but there wasn’t much spice, which was perfect for this dish. I could really taste the arugula as well but the sweetness of the orange offset the bitterness of the arugula. My favorite was combining the burrata and arugula.
Hilary: At this point in the meal, we had both finished our cocktails and decided to switch to wine. Our server was very helpful and helped us understand some of the French wines on the menu and suggested a bottle that might fit our, often conflicting, wine preferences. It was a Chenin Blanc and it was very good. Perfect for that summer evening on the patio.
Ashley: Our first main course was the Roasted Amish Chicken (charred cara cara orange, fava beans, spring onion, lardon, white asparagus puree, red wine-cherry reduction, shaved fresno chilli). There were a lot of ingredients! The chicken was really juicy and had a sweetness to it. It also had a grilled flavor though. The beans gave a nice balance to the sweet of the chicken which was my favorite combo. The orange was interesting. This wasn’t really my favorite dish.
Hilary: I loved how the wine reduction added a sweetness to the dish while the peppers had a good strong kick. However, the spring onions were whole and were really tough…I wasn’t able to bite or cut through them. I wish they had been cut into bite sized pieces. Other than that, I really liked this dish. The chicken was nice and tender and a little on the sweet side but the added components kicked it up a notch.
Ashley: Our next dish…was delicious. The only thing about the Whole Rainbow Trout (salmon & fennel stuffing, fingerling potatoes, spinach, lemon caper beurre noisette) that threw me off was that it still had a face on it! But man, it was delicious. The fish was nice and light. The salmon/fennel stuffing tasted like crab dip. Everything was so light, so when I combined it with the capers, it provided the perfect amount of salty. I forgot that there was spinach in this dish, so when I saw it at the bottom, I got excited all over again. It really made the dish for me. The potatoes were okay but I could’ve done without them. I really loved this.
Hilary: While I really enjoyed the trout, it didn’t blow me away. I did like how the skin was crispy and the lemon caper sauce was very tasty. However, the stuffing was a little bland to me. My favorite part of this dish was eating the roasted potatoes and spinach that were hidden under the fish with the lemon caper sauce. It was a nice acidic, salty, garlicky bite.
I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Vincent. Everything was so comforting and the atmosphere was wonderful for enjoying a summer night in Chicago. I would absolutely go back!
I liked going to Vincent. Everything was delicious and the service was great. It was such a nice night and I loved being able to sit out on the patio. I would definitely go back for the trout again.
Hilary: After loving absolutely everything about CJ Jacobson’s meal during his time at Intro, I couldn’t wait to go back and experience the second chef, Erik Anderson. The concept behind Intro is that every few months, the head chef (along with the menu, theme, and décor) changes. Based on the fonts and the strong focus on whiskey, I thought maybe the new theme was rodeo (I was thinking elevated bbq or a lot of “game” animals or something) but then the food menu was heavily French. This struck me as odd. Not to mention, when we got to the restaurant, it was decorated with animal carcasses of different kinds around the restaurant (ducks, bears, etc.) I’m not well versed on French culture, but these things together seemed a little jumbled to me.
Ashley: We had such a great time at Intro the first go-round, so I was extremely excited to try it again. I remember seeing the menu though and getting a little freaked out because I knew there was going to be a lot of soft and/or gooey textures in this meal. I would like to preface this write-up by saying that I’m not a fan of softer textures anyway, but that night I was having one of those days where it was extra hard for me to swallow (pun intended).
Our server told us that they brought in a group from Bittercube to custom make their cocktails, so I knew I had to try one. I went with the Serotina (Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie, Honey, Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters, Seltzer). I don’t know what exactly I was expecting when I ordered this drink but this was not it. When I first tasted it, it reminded me of medicine. I did just brush my teeth right before I left my house so maybe that had an effect. I kept drinking it but it just never really tasted good to me. The more I drank it, the more it tasted like black licorice (if that’s your thing then you would probably love this drink). I just didn’t know what to make of this drink. I finished it because I felt bad and I’m sure it was a well-made drink.
Hilary: I opted for the Six Corner Sling (Old Overholt, Lemon, Punt e mes, Green Chartreuse, Orange Bitters, Seltzer) and it was a good drink. Orange citrus was the main flavor but it had a slight bitters after-taste.
Our first course was the Island Creek Oyster (gin, pickles.) Our server explained to us that the inspiration for this dish was a Gibson’s martini. It had a green sauce in it that I think was the pickle, some tiny bits of raw onion, and a gin gelette. I really liked the crunchy onion with the slippery oyster, it was a wonderful contrast of texture. I did not taste the gin gilette at all, which was probably a good thing since I’m not a huge gin fan. I think the fact that it wasn’t the dominant flavor was a good thing, even for gin lovers. A simple, salty start!
Ashley: I was pretty surprised by this one because it wasn’t as chewy as I expected. It was perfectly salty and had a nice crunch on it with the pickles. I actually liked this a little.
Our second dish was the Preserved Foie Gras Tart (salted strawberries, hazelnut milk, radishes). When it came out, it looked just like a slice of cheesecake, however, that is not how it tasted…like at all. Now, I knew that it wasn’t going to taste like cheesecake but I think the look of it was throwing me off so much…I mean, it even had strawberry topping on it! It was really creamy like cheesecake but the taste was very earthy and salty. The hazelnut cream and strawberries were really good but I just couldn’t finish the foie gras. After multiple attempts, I think it’s safe to say that I definitely do not like foie gras.
Hilary: This dish was one of the prettiest plates of the night. The bright red of the strawberry and the deep maroon of the flower petals with the clean white foie slice. After my first bite, I was a little taken aback and how heavy and salty this tasted while still being fluffy and creamy in texture. I agree with Ashley that that aspect of it was a little off-putting. However, after my first bite, I got over it and started to enjoy the dish. It was VERY rich…there’s no way I could have eaten more than I did. But, I really enjoyed it. I especially loved the sweetness of the strawberries and the crunch of the hazelnuts with the foie.
The third course was the Cold-Smoked Ocean Trout (Tapioca, shellfish and squid ink jus, garlic). It was another visually pleasing dish because of all the different colors on the plate. There were a lot of components. There was the cold smoked trout, a celery root and lemon sauce, tapioca “caviar” in squid ink jus, little crunchy beads made of celery, and a sorel jelly. Then, on the side in a little glass was a garlic custard with roe on top. Our server recommended eating that separately, so that’s what we did. First, I tried each component by itself. I thought the trout was a little soggy, but tasted smoky and good. I really liked the celery root and lemon sauce and the crunchy celery balls because they added a pop of refreshment and lightness. The tapioca “caviar” was like warm Israeli couscous but black. Once I tried everything together, it was incredible how much better things tasted! The sauce is what made this dish for me. As for the garlic custard on the side, that was like a party in my mouth! The roe was like an edible version of bubble wrap because they popped as I chewed. The custard was VERY garlicky but that’s probably as good thing or else the roe may have been too fishy for me.
Ashley: This dish looked very good when it came out. The sorel jelly tasted light and refreshing. The tapioca pearls with the shellfish and squid ink jus were warm, which I wasn’t expecting, but they didn’t really have much flavor to them, they were just a fun texture on the plate. The celery root and lemon jelly definitely had a strong celery taste to it…and I like celery. The smoked trout was good. It tasted like it had some sort of spice to it…cumin maybe. I could really taste the smokiness to it as well. It was a little on the mushy side though. I liked it best when I combined the trout with the celery ball and tapioca pearls. I almost forgot about the little mousse that came with it. This tasted like pureed garlic with little bubbles on top of it that wouldn’t pop. It was strange.
After testing my gag reflex with all of the strange textures of the meal so far, I was ready for the meat (that’s what she said)! Our fourth course was the Ribeye (black truffle, peas, asparagus). It was amazing…and my favorite part of the meal by far. The meat was so tender and melted in my mouth. It had a good saltiness to it (there was a lot of salt in this meal). The seasoning on it was also perfect. The asparagus tasted just like asparagus…but who doesn’t love asparagus? There was a little tiny bowl shaped thing on the plate with the potato and pea mixture. It tasted just like peas but not as strong and mushy. When I ate the pastry bowl together with the potatoes and peas, it was even better. The crunch and extra salt gave the puree that extra something. I loved everything about this dish and would eat it again and again. Hilary even gave me some of her steak. She’s so sweet.
Hilary: I felt bad that, so far, Ashley hadn’t liked much of the meal so I did give her some of my steak. Not because I did not enjoy it…I loved it! But, I was already getting a little full. My favorite part of this dish was the little puff pastry with the potato-pea puree and pea tendrils with the red flower on top. It was so pretty! Also, the little black truffle hole punches were so visually interesting to me for some reason. Like Ashley said, the ribeye was wonderfully tender. It was almost like the texture of moist cake. I know, weird comparison, but really that’s what it reminded me of. And the red wine and truffle sauce was the shiz-nit! I kept trying to sop it up with each bite. The asparagus was really lovely but I thought it was comical that we only got half a spear of asparagus per plate. Regardless, this dish was one of my favorites.
Ashley: For our first dessert course, we got the Roasted Hay Custard (fresh crème, maple syrup). This again was a surprising dish. I was expecting sweet but the custard was actually salty. The crème was really sweet though, so it balanced it out a little. There were some crunchy pieces at the bottom that were a little sweeter. I’m assuming those were made of maple syrup. I couldn’t eat too much of the custard though, it was just too strange and salty for me.
Hilary: Wait, did she just say hay? Well, that definitely supports the rodeo theme. At first bite, I thought I really liked this. But the after-taste was blah. There were crunchy things in it that tasted like plain rice krispies. In fact, the whole thing kind of tasted like plain rice krispies and I thought it needed something more. I also wasn’t impressed by this presentation.
Thanks goodness there was a second dessert to make up for the first one! The second one was Burned Sugar and Rosemary (sable, oats and buttermilk ice cream) and it was awesome!! There was caramel custard, a shortbread cookie and pecan crumble, and little balls which our server told us was whiskey that had formed a natural coating around it. I’m not sure where the rosemary was…maybe it was in the crumble. Everything tasted so delightful together! The one exception was the buttermilk cream. I chose not to eat the cream because it dulled the rest of the flavors. This dessert was sweet, rich, had a soft base with a crunchy topping, a pop of booze…everything you could want in a dessert! Plus, we had coffee with it and it was a delightful pairing.
Ashley: I really liked this dessert. The oat crisps sticking out of the dish tasted just like oats…and they were good. The buttermilk ice cream tasted like a light sour cream (meaning light in flavor, not the “low-fat” version). There was a pecan and shortbread crumble on the dish that was my favorite part. It was like a sweet mix of chopped pecans. I could eat that by itself all the time, it was that good. The server told us the balls of whiskey were like a tiny shot…and she was right! When I bit into it, I got a shot of whiskey. At one point, I found three of the whiskey balls left on my plate, so I ate them all at once…I’m such a rebel. The caramel at the bottom was just a hint of flavor, not overpowering. I liked eating the caramel, pecan and shortbread crumble, and the oat crisps together, but again, I would take that pecan and shortbread crumble by itself any day.
I realllllllly wanted to love this meal but it was too full of soft textures that just didn’t sit right with me. I also felt like every dish was very surprising in that it looked like it should have been sweet but it wasn’t…and apparently, I just couldn’t get passed it. I still love Intro and am glad to have had the chance to try Chef Erik Anderson.
Hilary: There were definitely highlights on each plate during this meal but my favorite plates, overall, were the Oyster, Ribeye, and Burned Sugar & Rosemary. I thought this meal was delicious and I loved being able to try so many new and interesting things. However, everything was very rich and salty. I was a little disappointed that Erik never came to the table himself to present any of the dishes. Regardless, I’ll continue to check this place out with each new chef because I love being able to experience new talent!
Hilary: Ashley and I had gone to Lollapalooza every year since I moved to Chicago but we were not able to go in 2014. We were so sad about it that we vowed we would go again in 2015. I am so happy we did! We got to see Paul McCartney!! I grew up loving The Beatles so he was my must-see for the weekend. He was amazing!! He sang so many Beatles songs and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes came out and rocked Get Back with him. Wow! She is impressive on stage!
Ashley: I was so excited to be going back to Lollapalooza this year since we missed last year. The lineup was awesome and I had quite a few bucket list bands that would be there, so I couldn’t wait to see them. Of course, I was also excited for the food!
Hilary: The first stop we made was for a Jalapeno Cheddar Brat from Publican Quality Meats. I couldn’t really taste the jalapeno or cheddar, but it was still a flavorful brat. The skin gave it a tiny bit of crunch as I bit in. I liked that it came with sauerkraut and spicy mustard! Overall, a pretty good brat.
Ashley: Our first meal of Lolla just so happened to be eaten while listening to one of my bucket list bands, Alt-J. They were definitely one of my faves for the weekend! I really liked this brat. It was really juicy and not dried out at all. I was a little surprised at how little of the jalapeno I could actually taste, though. The cheddar actually had a stronger flavor than the jalapeno. There was sauerkraut on top as well, which I don’t normally like, but I ate it anyway. I honestly couldn’t really taste it. The strongest flavor on the brat had to be the mustard though. It had a very strong horseradish taste to it. All of the flavors combined really made a delish brat.
While listening to Alt-J, we also had a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Leghorn Chicken. This was probably my favorite meal of the weekend. The chicken in the sandwich was really moist and even though there was other stuff on the sandwich, I could still really taste the flavor of the chicken. The sandwich came with pickles, and we put some mayo on top, but the best part of the sandwich had to be the hot sauce that came with it. Man, it had a kick to it…but it was soooo good. It was burning my lips but I would totally eat it again. The pickles on the sandwich provided a bit of a cooling effect. I would absolutely go back to get this sandwich again. It was delicious!
Hilary: The chicken sandwich was my favorite too. I’ve been wanting to make it to Leghorn for a while so I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to try it! While this was just a fast food type sandwich, the chicken on it was great. The batter was crispy while the chicken was tender and juicy. The bun was buttery, almost like a croissant, which I liked. The pickles were the best part, in my opinion. They tasted crisp and fresh. The sauce was really great too. I thought it was just enough kick, not too spicy.
For day 2, we didn’t have as many bands that we felt we needed to see, so we went out early and wandered around checking out bands we didn’t know. It was fun to enjoy the beautiful weather and hear some new music!
Ashley: We decided to try some tamales from Dia De Los Tamales. They had a special if you bought two, so we got the black bean and corn tamale and the slow roasted Cuban pork tamale. While the black bean and corn tamale was good, it wasn’t really anything special. I mean, you could taste the corn and the black beans but nothing really stood out. So, we added some hot sauce and the sauce was really good. Every bite I took, I tried to pick up as much hot sauce as I could. The pork tamale was my favorite of the two. It was really flavorful, although a little dry. It had a red sauce on it that almost looked like marinara sauce. I tried this with the hot sauce as well and loved it. We both wish we would’ve gotten more sauce for these. They had a buffalo chicken tamale that I think I would try if I ever go here again.
Hilary: I was a little disappointed by the tamales. Both of them were dry. The black bean and corn tamale had some kind of sauce on it but it wasn’t very flavorful. The hot sauce was absolutely necessary with this one. The hot sauce was great—it was almost like a tomato, onion, garlic sauce at first but after being swallowed, the heat hit the back of my throat. I don’t like it when a hot sauce is so spicy that it burns your tongue and you can’t enjoy the flavors of what you’re eating. This one enhanced the flavor but didn’t mask anything. The pork tamale was better. The meat was flavorful and the red sauce on top was delicious. It was a little sweet. I wished we had gotten more hot sauce so I could have eaten it with the pork tamale too.
Ashley: We were still in a snacking mood after sharing the tamales, so we opted for some fries from M Burger. And we were both glad we got them. The fries were like an upgraded version of McDonald’s fries…you know, when they are fresh from the fryer. The perfect blend of thin, crispy, and salty. Very yummy.
Hilary: The whole weekend, I wanted to try the Italian Sandwich (genoa salami, capicola, mortadella, provolone, tomato, arugula, evoo and vinegar dressing) from Labriola. I’ve seen Labriola at farmer’s markets selling their fresh-baked bread so I knew this would be a good sandwich. And I was right! Unfortunately, it was too dark to take a picture. The bread was pretty soft, and the meats were sliced very thin. I loved the tomato and provolone with it. The evoo and vinegar was just enough dressing to add a little something without making the sandwich soggy. I really liked it! It was great pre-Florence and the Machine grub!
Ashley: On the last night, we came a little late so we only had time for one meal. Hilary mentioned that she wanted to try the Italian sandwich, and well, I just love food, so I agreed. I liked this sandwich a lot. You could tell the meat was fresh and I loved the flavor of the provolone. I also appreciated the fresh tomato and arugula. I usually don’t like dressing or evoo on my sandwiches but this was the perfect amount, so it added just a bit of extra flavor and didn’t over power it. I would definitely get it again.
Hilary: I had a wonderful time at Lollapalooza this year! We had some tasty treats and heard many great sets. Until next year…
Ashley: I can’t believe it’s been two years already since I moved to Chicago and we started this blog. Time flies when you’re eating for fun! Year two brought many new experiences, including a culinary adventure through Spain. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings! Also, I’d like to thank the lovely Heather Marley for our ‘Best of’ logo. She is an amazing artist and if you want to reach out to her about her work, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, let’s get right down to business…
Best Egg Dish
Ashley: My vote for best egg dish comes from our trip to Spain, where we experienced the Tortilla Española (Spanish omelet). The Spanish Omelet is one of the most commonly served dishes in Spain and Hilary found a place that supposedly had one of the best. It was Los Candiles in Bilbao. It certainly was delicious. The tortilla was great. It was rich but not too rich and I even ate the caramelized onions. I really enjoyed this.
Hilary: My vote for favorite egg dish was the Hangover Breakfast from The Bristol. It had such a complex flavor profile that it satisfied many of my taste buds at once. As far as ramen goes, it wasn’t the most unique but I loved that they had it on a breakfast menu. I have wanted ramen for breakfast pretty much every day since then!
Best Seafood Dish
Ashley: For my best seafood dish, I knew immediately which dish I would choose. My favorite was a dish we had at Etxanobe in Bibao. It was also the most surprising dish for me. It was the Scampi with Sauteed Vegetables and Fresh Pasta. I was expecting this dish to have the tough texture that I normally dislike in seafood but it didn’t. It was like butter (think Mike Meyers from Coffee Talk on SNL). The soft texture of the scampi with the crunch of the veggies made this a top vote for me. I loved the thin won ton-like pasta square that was on it as well. Such a great balance of seasoning and textures.
Hilary: My favorite seafood dish was from Intro when CJ Jacobson was the chef-in-residence (he is no longer there =\). It was the fluke appetizer. I loved the tangy parsley juice it was sitting in. I wished they had served it with a spoon so I could have gotten ALL of the juice! The fluke was so tender and I loved how it was both sweet and citrusy. What a lovely, refreshing dish!
Ashley: My favorite cocktail was a no-brainer. It comes from Takashi which, unfortunately, is no longer open. The Mito Green was such a surprisingly refreshing drink. What intrigued me most (and also scared me a little) was the fact that it had wasabi in it. The cucumber & melon flavors really balanced it out though. It was light, refreshing, and had just the right amount of kick to it. I loved it.
Hilary: My favorite cocktail was the Sparkling Vampyro from Intro. I picked this cocktail first of all, because it was delicious. It tasted like sweet cherries! But also, it was so unique. Beet juice in a cocktail? Wow! That was so interesting to me. The Kyoto Blossom from Takashi almost made the cut. It was also a very unique cocktail for me, in that I didn’t even know what most of the ingredients even were! I loved it, though.
Ashley: For my top vote on a sweet dish, I actually have two that are so close, it’s tough for me to say which is my actual favorite…so I’ll just say it’s a tie! The first dish is from The Bristol. It was the Rhubarb & Almond Coffee Cake. This was just a perfect combination of flavor and texture. The crust was crumbly and I could really taste the almond, butter, and sugar. Combine that with the bitterness of the rhubarb and you have the perfect blend of sweet and savory. My other favorite was the Honey Ricotta Cheesecake from TWO. It was the best cheesecake I have ever had. It was creamy but not heavy and the crust was sweet and crunchy.
Hilary: My favorite dessert was also the honey ricotta cheesecake! I’m not big on sweets but this cheesecake was just perfect. It was so creamy and light.
Ashley: My choice for favorite sandwich comes from a place around the corner from my house, Spritzburger. We got the Poutine Burger and it was delicious. The burger itself was cooked perfectly. It was so juicy even though it was covered with other things. The fries that came with it were thin, crispy, and salty. What more do you need in a fry?
Hilary: My top choice was the Los Drowned from Little Goat Diner. It was like a zesty version of a French dip sandwich, with mexi-slaw and avocado on top. The crunchy slaw paired with the tender meat was my favorite combination. My second favorite “sandwich” (we had to assemble it ourselves…) was the Soy-Ginger Caramel Pork Belly from Takashi. I absolutely LOVED the caramel in the sauce and the spicy mustard that came on the side.
The Meat to Beat
Ashley: My favorite meat dish is another dish that comes from Spain. The Carrillera de Tenera at Borda Berri in San Sebastian was amazing. Thanks to Hilary and her diligent researching, we found this place that came highly recommended. Now, I was little nervous for this one because, after all, it is veal cheek but it was so tender and tasted like pot roast that had been cooking for hours. It was amazing. I also had another dish that I wanted to include but wasn’t sure where to put it…but it has pork in it, so it qualifies as a meat dish. In Bilbao, we had our first paella at Agape. This was a recommendation from our AirBNB host and it was such a good choice. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Hilary: I agree with Ashley that the veal cheek in San Sebastian was incredible. I couldn’t NOT choose it. But, I also chose the prime meatballs from RPM Italian! They were so flavorful and tender. And the sauce was acidic and salty, while giving off a hint of sweetness.
Ashley: My favorite pasta dishes come from two restaurants that I have mentioned already for other foods. The first is the Sauteed Maine Scallops and Soba Gnocchi from Takashi. The scallops had a slight crust to them but melted in your mouth. The gnocchi was so soft but not at all mushy. It was all brought together in a light alfredo-like sauce. I really miss Takashi… My other favorite pasta dish was the Risotto at Borda Berri in San Sebastian. It was so creamy and rich and the rice had the perfect texture. If this place was closer, I’d be in trouble because I would eat it all the time.
Hilary: I agree with Ashley that the risotto from Borda Berri was amazing. It was, without a doubt, my top choice. Ever since then, I’ve compared every risotto to it and nothing can quite hold up. It was so creamy and cheesy and salty…yum!
Ashley: My favorite soup, by far, was the Roasted Cauliflower Bisque from TWO. It tasted just like cauliflower, which I love. It was so creamy and the bacon on top added a nice saltiness and bit of a crunch. My second favorite was not actually a soup, but tasted like one. It was the Scallop Gratin from Dakara in San Sebastian. Not only was it delicious…like a cheesy scallop soup, but it was served in a shell and was so cute!
Hilary: My favorite soup was the Oxtail Tea from Intro. It was like nothing I’ve had before. Plus, the extravagant story and presentation that came with it made it so much more interesting. The broth was cooked in a tea pot that they brought out and poured over the top of the noodles in front of us. Very cool.
Ashley: My top choice for comfort food was my meal at Work & Class in Denver. The meatballs were the best part of the meal for me but honestly, all of the meats were good. What really made this “comfort food” was the housemade breads. The biscuit had the perfect butter flavor and the cornbread with jalapeño had the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. This place was worth the 90-minute wait and we couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the trip.
Hilary: I knew right off the bat that the Mac & Cheese from Little Goat Diner was my choice for comfort food. The crispy breadcrumbs on top of the cheesy, thick noodles…so wonderful.
Most Adventurous Meal
Ashley: My choice for most adventurous meal was a no brainer. Etxanobe in Bilbao was definitely the most adventurous meal I’ve ever had. Etxanobe combined such great flavors with a little molecular gastronomy. I was a little nervous about so many of the dishes going into the meal but was happily surprised when some of them quickly became my favorites! What I can’t decide is which dish was the most adventurous of the meal. It’s a toss up between the Sardine Lipstick (which was exactly how it sounds…lipstick made of sardines) or the Tartare of Prawns and Lemongrass Gel. Both were strange and hard to get down but I’m still so glad I tried them. This was an amazing meal and definitely one of the highlights of our Spain trip and year two of The Savory Sisters!
Hilary: Etxanobe was truly the most adventurous meal I have ever had in my life. Not only because of the food they served, but it was my first time really traveling out of the United States. That whole trip was one of the best experiences. I totally have the travel bug now! Plus, I have very limited experience enjoying Michelin star restaurants, so that was great too. I had never had sardines, anchovies, raw prawns, or sweetbreads before and they were all included in this meal. While I wasn’t a huge fan of everything, I’m so glad I tried it. My favorite dish ended up being the Truffle Ajoblanco (garlic soup).
Best Brunch Spot
Ashley: This year, we didn’t actually have many brunch options to choose from but when I was looking through the list, I knew that The Bristol was my favorite for the year. The Rhubarb & Almond Coffee Cake was amazing, as I mentioned in the sweet section, but the rest of the meal was just as delicious. The ramen especially was great. The broth and pork were my favorite parts of the ramen. I also really loved the biscuit in the Chicken ‘n a Biscuit. It was soft and buttery and you could tell it was housemade. I can’t wait to go back for dinner sometime!
Hilary: My favorite brunch of year two was Little Goat Diner! That mac & cheese and the beef sandwich? Ah-mazing!! So glad we got to check this place out.
Best Dinner Experience
Ashley: For my favorite dinner spot, I had two restaurants that were both such amazing meals, I couldn’t pick one over the other. First off was Takashi. This whole meal was so amazing and I remember constantly expressing my joy with “mmms” and “OMGs” throughout the meal. My favorite dish of the night was Sauteed Maine Scallops and Soba Gnocchi. My second choice was TWO. Again, a meal that was filled with expressions of joy. Every time we got a new dish at TWO, it was just as good as the one before.
Hilary: My favorite dinner this year is probably not a surprise now that you’ve seen all my choices for the year. It was Intro! I loved CJ when he was on Top Chef so being able to taste his creations was a treat. Plus, everything we had was unique with some surprising combinations. I will definitely have to follow CJ to see where I may be able to try his food next since he is no longer the chef-in-residence at Intro. We did go again with the new chef (post coming soon!) and it was totally different. Takashi was my runner up because we got to try SO many things. I loved that each plate had multiple components.
Year two has certainly been an adventure for us. We really branched out and tried some new things this year! And it’s mostly because we have this blog. We have you, the readers, in mind when we make our decisions. We don’t want you to get bored by us eating the same foods or trying the same restaurants over and over again. That being said, we love hearing from you! Have a favorite photo? A restaurant suggestion? Something you think we’re missing? Let us know and we’ll try to incorporate it in year three!
Ashley: I was excited to try The Bristol. I heard from others that it was a great place to go and it’s in an area of the city where we don’t normally go!
Hilary: It was tough to decide whether we should got to The Bristol for brunch or dinner since I heard great things about both. We ultimately decided on brunch based on our schedules and I’m so glad we did!When deciding what drink to order, I was happy to see that they made a Moscow Mule with vodka. I’ve only ever seen them with gin and I’m not a huge fan of gin. This drink was incredibly refreshing! The lime juice was nice and citrus-ey but the ginger cut through just a bit without being too strong. Just right! Off to a great start… Ashley: I wasn’t sure what to get to drink at first but then I saw that they make their own bloody mary mix, so I knew I had to try the Bristol Bloody Mary (Ketel One vodka, chef chris pandel’s bloody mary mix). It had been a while since I had a bloody mary, so I forgot all about the garnishes, which excited me even more when I got the drink. It’s the little things in life. The mix itself was pretty good. It had a slight spice to it but what I could really taste was lime. It was pretty light though, so that was good. I don’t know that I would get it again only because of the strong lime flavor and the fact that I’m not a huge fan of lime. As a last-minute decision, we decided to get the Rhubarb and almond coffee cake. This. Was. Amazing. I love coffee cake but this one had such amazing flavor to it…and they served it warm, which I loved. The top of the crust was crumbly and had powdered sugar. It was a little crisp and didn’t have the sogginess to it that most store bought coffee cakes do (which is really what I’m used to). You could definitely taste the almond, butter, and sugar. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the rhubarb though. It was slightly bitter but when mixed with the sweetness from the rest of the coffee cake, it was a great blend. Again, it was soooo good. I would go back just for this if they put it on the menu again.
Hilary: I agree! This coffee cake was delicious. I loved the crispy brown sugar topping combined with the tang of the rhubarb. The cake itself was just moist enough but still a little crumbly and just the edges were crunchy. It had a savoriness to it while still being sweet… what a wonderful treat!For our first entrée, we got the Hangover Breakfast (noodles, pork broth, aromatic vegetables). I saw a photo of this online beforehand, otherwise I’m not sure I would have expected a ramen dish, just because I’ve never seen ramen on a brunch menu. Now I’m wondering why more places don’t do this??? It was incredible! The broth was salty, savory, and spicy all at the same time. The fennel bulb, carrots, and radish were sturdy and earthy. The pork belly was cooked nicely, very crisp on the edges with some fat but mostly meat. They put something in it called “shrimp toast” that was kind of like a tiny shrimp “meatball”. I was not a fan and took it out of my bowl so I could eat everything else. This was so hearty and filling. I definitely ate too much of it considering how much food we had left to try, but I just couldn’t stop! It was my favorite dish of the meal.
Ashley: We mentioned ahead of time that we were sharing everything so they were kind enough to split this for us, since it’s ramen. We didn’t even have to ask, they just did it. I really liked this dish as well. The pork was really good. It was a little fatty and crispy on the edges, so it had good flavor. The broth had a little sourness to it, almost like vinegar, but it had a good spice to balance it out. There were a lot of extras in it, so I had to try a little bit of everything. There was fennel in there, which I’m not usually a fan of, but I really liked how the fennel blended with the spiciness of the broth. The shrimp toast was interesting. It was like soggy bread and had a really strong fishy taste. I did not like it. They recommended that we break up the egg and mix it in. I think next time, I wouldn’t mix it in right away because I didn’t get much egg flavor. I enjoyed this though and had leftovers to take home and eat later!Next, we ordered the Chicken ‘n a biscuit (sausage gravy, bread & butter pickles). The biscuit in this dish was the best part. It was so soft and buttery and it had a nice crust on it too. The sausage gravy was interesting. It was buttery but it also had a sour taste to it, which may have been from the pickles, but I could taste it a lot. The chicken itself was ok to me. The chicken was moist but there was turmeric in the batter, which I didn’t really like. I loved eating the chicken without the skin & batter on it though. I just really loved the biscuit and would go back for that alone.
Hilary: I was a little less enthused by our second entrée, but it was still very good. I agree with Ashley that the housemade biscuit was the best part. They should make a breakfast sandwich on these biscuits, if they don’t already…that would be amazing! The sausage gravy was nice and smoky and the texture of the chicken was perfect. The breading was really crunchy while the chicken remained moist and tender. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the seasoning on the chicken. It was kind of sweet and as you all know by now, I much prefer the salty side of life! This dish was almost great, but missed the mark slightly for me.Ashley: I’ve never had a duck fat fry that actually tasted that much better than a regular fry. Unfortunately, these were the same. They were really good, don’t get me wrong, I have just heard people rave about duck fat fries before, and I just don’t get it. There was lemon zest on them, which was pretty strong. It came with two sauces. One was a curry ketchup, which kind of tasted like horseradish/cocktail sauce. The other sauce was a garlic aioli. I really liked the garlic one a lot.
Hilary: While I agree that these fries weren’t much better than any other good fry, they were still damn good fries! They were crispy and salty (pretty much my only fry requirements) and I loved the lemon zest on top. It added a touch of uniqueness and was surprisingly delightful.
Now that we have had their brunch, I am convinced we need to go back and try dinner. Although, I will be tempted to return for the hangover breakfast! And next time, I will be sure not to eat so much of the first course that I can barely eat anything else. Although, the leftovers were mighty delicious later that day.
Ashley: Over all, I really enjoyed The Bristol. Their rhubarb and almond coffee cake is something that I would eat daily if I lived close enough! I loved it so much. I also really enjoyed the hangover breakfast and would go back for that. I would love to try their dinner sometime as well. I appreciated how kind and accommodating the employees were and they helped make the experience great.
Ashley: My friend Andrea moved to Denver a few years ago, so my other friend, Shelby, and I decided to pay her a visit. After all, she had a baby boy, James, about 22 months ago and we had yet to meet him! I was excited to be able finally meet James and to get some girl time in with my ladies. We took advantage of what Denver had to offer and not only experienced delicious cuisine, but also exciting events and landscapes.
Of course, before I went to Denver, I had to do my research on the local restaurants. I found quite a few that had amazing reviews and menus, one of which was Work & Class. Their motto is as the title says, Square Meal, Stiff Drink, and Fair Price. Andrea and her husband had heard good things about it as well, so we decided to give it a go. When we got there, the place was already packed at 6:30, so we had a 90 minute wait. We were expecting this though as all of the reviews mentioned that it was worth the wait. The awesome thing was that they will take your number and call you when your table is ready so you can head down the street to one of the bars to grab a drink while you wait. So we headed down to a rooftop bar to enjoy the nice weather and grab a drink.
I read that the best way to experience Work & Class was to get a bunch of plates and share with everyone, so that’s what we did. Our first dish was the Blue Corn Empanadas (stuffed with zucchini, squash, & oaxaca cheese, served with a smoked tomato sauce). While these aren’t the prettiest, they were tasty. You could really taste the blue corn and the cheese (I mean, who doesn’t love cheese, right?). Even though they had great flavor, these were actually the least exciting part of the meal…it only got better as we went on!
The next dish we shared was the New Jersey Ernie’s Meatballs (pork & veal meatballs served on a bed of cheesy polenta with spicy tomato sauce). These. Were. Amazing. I would say that these were the best part of the meal. The meat wasn’t ground too finely so it had some texture to it. The meat was seasoned so well that you could definitely eat it without the sauce on it…but the sauce was delicious too. It didn’t really taste very spicy to me though…and I wasn’t complaining. The polenta was good. It was cheesy but not super strong. I wish this place was closer to me just so I could go back for the meatballs!
Our first meat dish was the Citrus-Mustard Braised Short Rib. When you order the meat, you order it in 1/4, 1/2, or 1 pound. We asked for the server’s recommendation on portion size and he recommended 1/2 pound since we were also getting the chicken. The short rib was so tender and full of flavor. You could just tear it apart with your fork, yet it was still very moist. The citrus-mustard sauce was pretty light and added a little bit of flavor. It really was delicious.
For our second meat, we went with the Jamaican Jerk Rotisserie Chicken. We opted for just the 1/4 pound since we also got the short rib. This was my favorite of the two meats. I love a good rotisserie chicken and this one did not disappoint. It was so moist and it just had such good flavor to it, although I didn’t taste the jerk seasoning like I expected to. It did come with a cilantro sauce though. I tried it once…and yep, I still don’t like cilantro. I was fine eating it without, although Andrea and Shelby seemed to really like the sauce.
I love a good brussels sprout, so I was excited to hear that Andrea and Shelby were both on board with getting the Brussels Sprout, Apple & Bacon Hash. I was even more excited when I got to taste it. This dish was the perfect side to go with our meal. The brussels sprouts were cooked perfectly…soft with a little crunch still left in them. The apple really added a sweetness to the grilled flavor of the brussels sprouts. And of course, you can never go wrong with bacon and brussels sprouts.
Many of the reviews also mentioned that you had to try their bread because they were all homemade and delicious. We decided to get two breads, one of them being the Homemade Biscuit. The reviews were right! This biscuit was amazing. You could tell it was homemade. It was moist and had such a good buttery flavor without being too buttery. You didn’t even really need to add anything to it.
The other bread that we got was the Jalapeño Cornbread. I thought this was pretty good. The jalapeño wasn’t really strong, so it combined well with the sweetness of the cornbread. It was a little on the dry side so the butter was needed for this one. I don’t normally like cornbread but I think the combination of the spicy pepper and sweet cornbread let me enjoy this more than normal.
I think we all really enjoyed our meal at Work & Class (we couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the night). It was the perfect mix of great food and even better company! I only wish that I lived closer so I could go back.
Hilary: I have been wanting to try RPM Italian for what seems like forever! I was so excited we finally had the chance. It is a very popular spot! We had a reservation but still had to wait about 20 minutes for our table, which was good time for people watching, as several people came in and out. Once we were seated, our server asked us if we wanted to order any wine. We asked for his help since our tastes are so different (Ashley prefers Malbec, I prefer Pinot Noir). He brought us over a couple of Italian wines to sample but I wasn’t a big fan of either. Then he brought us a California Pinot Noir and we decided to go with that.
Ashley: We tried to go to RPM Italian for restaurant week but schedules wouldn’t allow, so I was excited to finally get to try it as well. I really enjoyed our waiter. He was very helpful with the wine and food choices and I think his recommendations were good. I was also excited because I had my first Chicago celebrity sighting! While we were sitting there, I saw Lebron James come in with some of his teammates (Note to the Bulls fans, I’m not a Cleveland fan and I’m sad that the Playoff run didn’t end better for the Bulls). I was surprised that I even recognized him but I did…and I stared at him as he walked by, like a creepy fan…with my mouth open. Thanks to my personal trainer, Ed, for making me watch NBA playoffs during our sessions, or I never would’ve known it was him.
Hilary: For our first appetizer, we went with the Provolone Stuffed Peppers. For some reason, I was expecting the peppers to be sautéed or grilled or something and for the cheese to be melted, but it came out more like a bloody mary garnish with cubes of smoky provolone inside cherry peppers. It tasted good, but it wasn’t a very exciting dish.
Ashley: I agree with Hilary on this. I also thought they would be grilled with melted cheese, so I was a little thrown off by what we got. The peppers were really fresh though and tasted good. They had a good amount of spice to them and the cheese was tasty but not overpowering. Although, the cheese seemed more like parmesan to me than provolone. I guess I was expecting the cheese to be slightly creamier.
Our second appetizer was the Prime Beef Meatballs. These were delicious. I’m not usually a fan of red sauces as they tend to be a little thinner and lacking in seasoning but this one was delicious. The meat in this dish was so tender and the meatball just fell apart as I was cutting it. I would love to eat these again.
Hilary: Oh boy were these delicious!! They immediately erased any doubts that had formed in my mind based on the stuffed peppers. The beef was tender and the sauce was delightful. It tasted like it was made from fresh tomatoes and was a great balance of acidic and salty with a hint of sweetness. I would definitely order these again!
Our first pasta dish was Risotto Primavera (spring vegetable, basil pesto). I was a tiny bit disappointed in this dish, mostly because I was hoping for a creamy, cheesy risotto but it was not creamy at all. I was also hoping that the vegetables would have been larger chunks vs. chopped into tiny bits and the herb on top tasted piney and overpowered the otherwise mild-flavored dish. On the positive side, this dish was very light and fresh, which is unique for pasta dishes.
Ashley: I was disappointed with this as well. Like Hilary, I was also hoping for creamy, cheesy risotto. This was one of my top choices for our meal because I was looking forward to the spring vegetables but it just wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped. I could taste the parmesan though and the dish was really fresh, which I liked.
I don’t actually think I’ve ever had Pappardelle Bolognese (pecorino, rosemary) before, so I was intrigued by the wide noodles. When I first took a bite, I thought the noodles were slightly undercooked for normal people standards (I think I’ve mentioned before that I like my pasta more on the al dente side). I was glad to hear that Hilary didn’t think so though. The sauce was really good and lighter than I expected. There was a lot of meat in it, which to my surprise included shredded pork, and I really enjoyed the flavor. I like ordering dishes that I don’t really know what to expect because then I get to try so many new things and am usually pleasantly surprised. This dish did not disappoint. I only wish there was more because I loved it so much.
Hilary: Pappardelle is one of my favorite types of pasta because of the width of the noddle. I find it so satisfying. This dish was no exception! With the Bolognese sauce, it was so hearty and delicious. The sauce tasted a lot like the sauce that was on the meatballs but with shredded pork and beef. The meat in the sauce was very tender which almost created a mushy texture but the al dente noodles made up for it. There was rosemary on top which added a nice earthiness. I loved this pasta!
For dessert, we had the Hazelnut Tartufo (dark & milk chocolate). This dessert was huge! It was milk chocolate gelato shaped into a ball with chocolate in the middle and coated in dark chocolate with crunchy hazelnuts. The coating is what made this dessert…it was really good! It took me back to my childhood when I used to go to the corner ice cream store and get a chocolate dipped cone with nuts on top. However, this was pretty difficult to eat. I don’t usually have a hard time eating cold foods but this was really hurting my teeth for some reason. I was glad I ordered a coffee to accompany the dessert, and it was served in a giant mug!
Ashley: I really enjoyed the crunchy coating as well. You could really taste the hazelnuts and the chocolate was creamy and not too sweet. The chocolate in the middle was semi-sweet and didn’t really taste like dark chocolate to me, so my guess is that the coating was the dark chocolate. The gelato was milk chocolate flavored. This is definitely a dessert for all of the chocolate lovers out there!
Hilary: Our dinner at RPM Italian was about 50/50 for me. I would definitely go back to get the meatballs again and would stick to the recommended dishes so I know I’m getting their specialties. It’s a very trendy spot and seemed to be much better for small groups than romantic dates because of the amount of noise and people throughout the restaurant.
Ashley: Even though some of our dishes were a little less exciting than I expected, I thought this was a good meal. I would love to go back and try more of their dishes. They had a lot to choose from, so there are many other options. I also liked the space and thought it was cozy with a lounge vibe.
Hilary: We went to TWO Restaurant & Bar for our second stop during Chicago restaurant week 2015. It was a 3 course meal with 1 bonus course and, like at Boka, we strategically chose different dishes so we could try several different things.
Ashley: I had been to TWO before and the meal was amazing so I was excited to get to go back and try different things.
Hilary: The first thing we had was the Nichols Farm Golden Beet Salad (cucumber, candy onions, baby spinach, spicy walnuts, sheep’s milk feta, Michigan honey vinaigrette). It was a small plate to begin with and we tried to share it. So, we each got maybe 3 bites. But, it was a good salad! A little heavily dressed, but I loved the thin onions, salty feta, and sweet beets. It was very simple and refreshing. A good introduction to the meal.
Ashley: I have really just started getting into beets so I was looking forward to trying this. It was so light and refreshing. It had a strong onion flavor but not in a bad way. The feta was nice and salty and the candied walnuts were sweet and provided a great balance. The spinach was really fresh. I loved this salad.
Next, we had the Roasted Cauliflower Bisque (homemade bacon, cured mushrooms, ricotta crouton). Again, it was a pretty small dish and we had to share it, which made me sad because I loved it! It was so creamy and tasted just like cauliflower but not super strong. The bacon on top was a great addition to the dish as well. I wanted more of this.
Hilary: This was excellent, and even better because it was a bitter cold winter night. The bisque, by itself, was simple and a little plain but not bland. There was a crusty, thin crouton on top with salty bacon that kicked the bisque up a notch, flavor and texture-wise. My only complaint, like Ashley mentioned, was that there wasn’t enough in the bowl. I also wanted more!
The bonus course was a Porcini Polenta Cake (wild mushrooms, garlic jus). This was such a comforting dish. The polenta was creamy and hearty and the broth was almost like a miso soup broth. The mushroom had a similar texture to zucchini, which I really enjoyed. When everything was eaten together, the mushroom was definitely the dominant flavor and texture, but everything contributed wonderfully.
Ashley: I was a little nervous about this dish because there were so many mushrooms but I ate them anyway and I actually liked them! They weren’t as chewy as mushrooms normally are. I agree with Hilary in that they had a similar texture to zucchini. The polenta itself reminded me of cream of wheat…a little mushy and gritty. It was pretty good though.
Hilary: Ashley chose the Sea Scallops (sweet potato puree, herb vinaigrette, parsnip chips) as her main course. I would describe this dish as sweet and creamy. The sweet potato puree with the scallops reminded me of a seafood chowder and there were salty parsnip chips on top. Unfortunately, the scallops were a little fishy tasting with some grit. Regardless, the sweet potato purée was delicious and was my favorite part of the dish!
Ashley: I agree with Hilary that the sweet potato puree was the best part of the dish. It was creamy and smooth and not overly sweet. The scallops were pretty good. They had a nice crust but were tender enough that I could cut through it with just my fork. I could’ve done without the parsnip chips on top because they were a little soggy. The scallops and sweet potato puree were so good together and made the dish delicious.
For Hilary’s main course, she chose the Berkshire Pork Kalbi Loin Chop (roasted Yukon gold potatoes, black pepper mustard sauce). Up to this point, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get filled up because the portions seemed to be pretty small. However, this dish was a huge portion! I had no trouble feeling full after this. The pork was delicious. It tasted like a pork steak right off the grill. The potatoes that came with it were cooked perfectly and had a balsamic flavor. It was so good.
Hilary: Yum! This pork was so tender, with some fat but not a lot. The roasted potatoes were seasoned very nicely. I loved the sauce on top but thought the pepitas were unnecessary. This dish was comfort food at its finest!
My dessert was the Honey Ricotta Cheesecake (macerated blueberries, chantilly cream) and OMG! Normally, I’m not a big dessert person but I would go back to TWO just to get this again. It was so tasty! It was buttery, creamy, fluffy, and not too sweet. The crust was actually the sweetest part. The honey cheesecake was fantastic on its own but the blueberries added a richness while the whipped cream made it light and fluffy. Definitely my favorite part of the meal!
Ashley: This is by far the best cheesecake I have ever had and I love cheesecake (I get it from my pops). They make their own ricotta at TWO, which I thought was pretty cool. It was so creamy but it wasn’t that heavy. The crust was perfect as well. This dessert will definitely be tough to beat.
Hilary: Ashley’s dessert was the Dark Chocolate Brownie (homemade Nutella ice cream, graham cracker toffee, homemade marshmallow). This dish was kind of like a deconstructed s’more. The brownie was very dense like fudge and the graham cracker was pretty hard and crunchy, although it had great flavor. The nutella ice cream was a little bland but nice. The marshmallow was made from scratch in house and it had a weird texture, like a hard-boiled egg white. Obviously, this was not my favorite dessert and I would pass it up next time.
Ashley: I never pass up a brownie. Hilary is right, this was like a deconstructed s’more. The top was the marshmallow and it stuck to my spoon…but that’s why I have teeth, right? To scrape it off! Anyway, the brownie was good. It was cold instead of hot but not too chocolatey. The graham cracker was also chocolate flavored and the Nutella ice cream just tasted like a less sweet chocolate flavor (are you seeing the theme here?). I liked it best when I combined all of the ingredients together.
I really enjoyed this meal and have many great memories of it. Everything was so good to me. I definitely want to keep going to TWO since both experiences there were amazing.
Hilary: I really liked our meal at TWO. It was great comfort food without the dreaded heaviness. It was perfect for a cold winter’s night!