29 August 2012

david burke's primehouse.

my office has a few favorite restaurants in chicago for taking clients when they come into town. david burke's primehouse is just one of them.

david burke's is located in river north inside the james hotel. they're known for their 75 day ribeye ... for those vegans that don't know, that means it's dry aged for 75 days before cooking. this steak was featured on the food network. menu description : "intense steak flavor" ... it's pretty much the exact opposite of a vegan meal. but ... since i drag josh around to wherever for vegan foods, i thought it was only fair to try david burke's for him.

here's what i had ... 

vegan & gluten-free crackers :
nice & crunchy. nothing special.
the non-vegan option was a cheddar popover type bread. josh loved it.

heirloom tomato salad :
pickled ramps , candied fennel seeds & sherry dressing. (no fresh mozzarella.)
this was so so so good. i absolutely love tomatoes, so i obviously had no complaints.

quinoa entree :
arugala, corn, apsaragus & other local ingredients.
also super yum. i love quinoa, but in small portions. and this mix of veggies & quinoa was perfection. everything tasted so fresh and it was just the right serving size. especially after my huge plate of tomatoes. 

sorbet : 
kalamansi, orange chamomile & coconut milk.
this was my first time tasting any of these sorbet flavors ... and let me say, they were delicious. the coconut milk was so incredibly creamy! josh wasn't a fan, but i love coconut, so i really enjoyed it. the other flavors both just tasted very citrus-y and i couldn't really pinpoint an exact taste. but still delicious.

the team at david burke's primehouse was extremely accommodating to me. one of the chefs, bri (or bree?), prepared my vegan dishes ... and even brought out my quinoa entree herself to explain the components. as you know, i love that! and truly appreciate it.

i like to believe it's a fun challenge for chefs to create something delicious out of animal-free ingredients. whether or not this is the case, the kitchen at david burke's certainly did a fantastic job. and yet again, we learn that vegans can have an outstanding meal at a steakhouse.

26 August 2012

anthony's homemade italian ice.

my favorite dessert place in the neighborhood is anthony's homemade italian ice ... name self-explanatory.

josh and i have been going to anthony's since we moved to the southport corridor over three years ago. they've got a ton of vegan italian ice options, as well as a bunch of other items for our non-vegan friends (like ice cream, pizza & soups).

i absolutely love anthony's chocolate italian ice. it's rare that i get a good chocolate fix ... and a little cup of this heaven can do the trick.

lately, i've been branching out and trying the other flavors ... mango (amazing) and coconut (so fresh & light) among others ... this most recent visit, i opted for two new flavors in the tiny child cup option. perfect for a sweet dessert.

here's what i had ...

lemon lime italian ice :
super citrus-y (obviously) & flavorful.
 
black cherry italian ice :
my new go-to.
so so so good. can't believe it took me three years to try.
the real cherry chunks are the best part. and it kind of tastes like a slushee. so win-win.

basically, anthony's is the perfect summer treat. always light. always fresh. always delicious. i could go for a cup of black cherry right.now. think i'll head down the street now. meet ya there?

22 August 2012

rpm italian.

i'm not afraid to admit that i am a huge giuliana & bill fan. super cute chicagoans (yes, giuliana is a definite chicagoan now) who bring only the good to our fair city? yes, please. not to mention that they are actually hilarious together. love.

anyway, when news spread that they would be opening an italian joint inspired by some of mama depandi's recipes (giuliana's mother and breakout star of giuliana & bill), i knew it'd be a must try spot for this summer. (and lucky for me, it fits right in with my absolute obsession with italian food.)

and thus, rpm italian was born. (way to go : bill, giuliana + leye!)

pretty much every aspect (save one, more on that later) of rpm is fantastic. the menu perfect for sharing (i.e. : order lots of little dishes ... another italian style tapas type of situation) & they've got tons of vegan options ... aaand they're very willing to accommodate. they offered to make vegan eggplant parmesan (sans parmesan), but i went with a few different options. here's what i had ...

roman style artichokes :
crunchy, salty, delicious.
the leaves tasted like little chips made from artichoke. just super.

tuscan kale & heirloom spinach salad.
no cheese.
also quite tasty. 
i added some salt & the crushed red pepper & dried herb blend that came with my friends' pizette.
you know how much i looove kale, so this was an obvious choice. you might also notice that this looks like a half portion ... that's because i dove right in before taking my photo. oops.

mama depandi's pomodoro :
strozzapreti pasta (in place of bucatini).
since i am such a big guiliana & bill fan, i just had try mama depandi's pomodoro.
and let me say, mama depandi does not disappoint. it was sooo good. the flavor was just incredible. and while i appreciate the smaller portion size, i could have easily eaten more. really, that good.

the only thing one (not me) might complain about is that none of their desserts are vegan. not even the sortbetto (maybe egg whites?) ... but that's okay. you can certainly eat enough at dinner so you don't need dessert. that's what we did.

rpm italian is definitely on the hot list of chicago restaurants. so it may take time to get a reservation (we made ours three months ago to get a prime spot at 8pm on a sunday!) ... but it's definitely worth the wait.

19 August 2012

the aviary.

a quick departure from my usual food notes ...

my first post here was on alinea, the original grant achatz (molecular gastronomy) restaurant. well, i've finally made it to the aviary, another grant achatz place ... this one, a bar in the west loop.

here's an informative snippet from their site ... "the aviary is where cocktails and service are given the same attention to detail as a four-star restaurant; where bartenders are trained as chefs; where the produce and herbs are carefully sourced and procured fresh daily; where the name and branding of the spirit mixed is less important than its actual flavor; where drinks are made quickly and consistently in a state-of-the-art drink kitchen; where innovation and tradition are both honored."

ain't no lie. the aviary is amazing. and the perfect place for a celebratory night out. since there were four of us ladies, we all ordered a bunch of items to share. apologies in advance for the poor quality of photos ... it was damn dark in there. gotta set the mood. here's what i had ...

chai :
:
 elderflower, saffron, tequila & bourbon.
super flavorful & delicious. i'm not big into the bourbon, but this was awesome.

lychee :
basil, maraschino & rum.
a little sweet. perfect for sipping.
and don't you just love the brown paper sack?

celery :
 honeydew, riesling & chartreuse.
SO.GOOD. i would definitely try this one again next time.

bitters :
 smoking barrel, amari, tequila & cognac.
this drink is super cool & fun ... but i am not a cognac drinker. so not quite sure why i thought i'd enjoy this. but honestly, it's equally about the presentation, so it's kind of a must try.

sips ...
 took me a while to finish these two ... but finish them i did! mostly.

margarita :
fresno, agave & tequila.
the ice cubes had chili powder in them ... as the ice melted, the margarita got spicier. yum!

 horchata :
cinnamon, rum & tequila. 
best drink of the night! it also had homemade rice milk (or maybe just tasted like it? to make it a horchata) and the same chili ice cubes. i could actually drink 75 of these.

lollipops :
vegan options ... pineapple & dark chocolate.
 i enjoyed both the pineapple and dark chocolate lollipops quite a bit ... and $8 for the whole lot? a perfect sweet bite to finish the night. 

overall, amazing. but. one of my favorite parts of the evening was that chef grant achatz was at the restaurant !!! i love a good chef sighting, so this was pretty much really really exciting. so nerdy. oh, well.

ok, so in terms of vegan options (that's what this blog is about, right?) ... a few of the drinks (mostly dessert type ones) & snacks were not vegan. but the majority were. and our server knew exactly what was and wasn't. the amuse-bouche drink they brought out first was actually not vegan (it had egg white) ... but that was okay. i was set the rest of the night.

if you like to drink (who doesn't?) and are looking for a cool & unique experience, the aviary is the place to go.

and ps - chef achatz, if you're listening -- please do some vegan stuff at next!

15 August 2012

la madia.

this truly has been the summer of pizza. i have been obsessed and i have no idea why. i actually want some right now. it's just so good!!

when it came time for a celebration (yay, carly!), my friends and i decided to head to where else, but a pizza place ...

la madia is located in river north ... they describe themselves as "an urban restaurant that upholds italian tradition." okay, sure. whatever. just give me some pizza.

here's what i had ...

oven-roasted globe artichokes :
mignonette & mustard sauces.
 the mustard sauce was not vegan, but the mignonette was. DELISH.
i happen to love artichokes, so this was the perfect starter for me.

creamed ceci bean bruschette :
lemon & virgin olive oil.
i actually cannot explain how delicious this was. it was so so so so so good. seriously, a must have.
my kind of bruschette. 

shaved artichoke white pizza :
garlic & spinach.
 more artichokes! yum!
we did have vegan and half non-vegan to share ... and we added spinach for a bit more flavor on the non-vegan side. the sauce and crust was amazing. my only complaint is that i couldn't taste the artichoke enough! but since i had eaten almost an entire plate by myself as an appetizer, i can't really say too much. just really good.

so team, if you're looking for a fun, casual place for din, la madia is a great one to try ... and don't forget to get the ceci bean bruschette. fa realz.

12 August 2012

deleece.

the southport corridor has a ton of great little restaurants and bars. since we moved, my new route takes me from southport and addison to southport and clybourn, where it ends. so i feel like i've got a pretty good grasp on what that street has to offer ... lots.

one restaurant that we've been hoping to try for a while is deleece. they recently moved and/or did a bit of a renovation ... it's very cute & chicago-y inside. my only real complaint is that it was so loud. i think it's because there is a whole wall of exposed brick (not very sound absorbent)... i could barely hear our server as she explained the specials. but we were also there the night of a street fest. so that obviously affected it as well.

anyway, their menu features "contemporary american cuisine" and an "innovative, seasonably inspired menu." here's what i had ...

watermelon gazpacho :

this was a special that night that i just had to try. definitely seasonably inspired!
unfortunately, it was only okay. tasted exactly how you might expect ... cold watermelon soup.
i did have some dried cherries (maybe?) in it, which were good. but other than that ... sadly, not much to write home about.

roasted poblano pepper :

stuffed with spanish rice and squash, mole verde with pepitas, black beans & pimenton tortilla strips. (no queso fresco or sour cream, obvi.)
this was definitely more of a hit than the soup. the crispy crunchy tortilla strips with the kind of mushy texture of the pepper, rice and beans created a perfect balance. and the pepper had a kick, which i obviously enjoyed. this dish had lots of delicious fresh ingredients, so i felt very satisfied at the end. 

so to sum up ...
1. great location, cute interior.
2. loud! 
3. meh watermelon soup, yum roasted poblano pepper.

if you're in the hood looking to eat somewhere nicer than a bar ... try deleece.

08 August 2012

homemade pizza company.

i have been going through an insane pizza phase lately. lou malnati's, frasca... you name it.

recently, i've gotten back into homemade pizza company. there's a bunch all over chicago... but there's one right on southport ... so it's pretty much amazing. homemade pizza co is different from your average pizza place since you actually have to cook your own pizza. (hence the name.)

but this is my favorite part about it ... not only can you customize your pizza to however you want it,  you can also have it cooked however you like! i prefer my crust a little bit undercooked, so you can see why i would enjoy this so much.

i'm a weirdo about pizza. so from hmpc, here's what i got :

tomato sauce, black olives + marinated artichokes.
pre-cooked :

post-cooked :

simple, i know.
but so delish. here's why ...

KALE ON YOUR PIZZA :
so so so so good.
so here's what you do ... 
1. go to whole foods, tj's or your grocer of choice ... get a bunch of kale, olive oil + fresh garlic.
2. call hmpc ... order a pizza ... get your pizza ... put it in the oven.
3. chop up a ton of garlic and toss it in a pan with the olive oil.
4. wash your kale and pull the leaves off the big stems. toss the kale leaves into the garlic + oo, mix and let steam. (let it be known that this is basically the only cooking i do ... steaming kale.)
5. pile kale onto your pizza & enjoy.
6. thank me later.

05 August 2012

bread & wine.

since bread & wine opened last year (ish?), josh & i have been wanting to try it out. it's a little bit off the beaten path for us (being in irving park and all. ha, pathetic.) ... so it did take us a while to get here.

but we had a friend in town one weekend and decided it was the perfect opportunity to try it ... and let me say, this "neighborhood american bistro ... focusing on farm to table fare" was worth the wait ...

here's what i had :

house marinated olives :
obviously. yum.
a perfect app for me. 

sunflower seed crusted tofu :
served with mashed english peas & a cucumber dill salad. 
 also, yum. this was soooo tasty. and perfectly vegan on it's own with no modifications! go bread & wine! 
my only complaint is that i wanted mooore of it! i love me some tofu and this preparation was unique and delicious.

a few comments from the peanut gallery :
 - the building used to be a laundry mat, which i just found hilarious.
 - they have a great little outdoor eating area ... perfect when chicago decides not to be a complete & utter sauna. 
 - they love their peas at this place. there are 3 dishes on the menu that feature peas.
 - the wine portion of our meal was absolutely fantastic. however, no bread came with it. wah!
 - my very non-vegan husband & friend both had the beef & chorizo burger ... and both thought it was amazing. so any non-veggies can certainly enjoy this little joint, as well.

basically, bread & wine is a great place to dine. if you're in the area (or not), it's definitely worth stopping by. they also serve brunch, which i am very interesting in trying. i'm looking forward to going back!

01 August 2012

new york city : alice's tea cup.

imagine the cutest place in the world ... what did you see? if you're me, you see alice's tea cup, a super cute restaurant on the upper east side (also, with locations on the upper west side and upper upper east side ... yes, those are the official names).  

at first, alice's tea cup did not make it on our list of "must-eats" as we thought they didn't have any vegan offerings. boy, were we wrong. here's what i had :

i was waaay too excited for my vegan blueberry-orange scone (!!!), so i may have forgotten to snap a good photo of it. i was, however, able to organize an artsy instagram shot ...
 enjoy!
 it was delish. our waitress told us that even the brits who visit say that their scones are better there than in the uk. i say, a vegan scone is a good scone.

i also had an actual meal :
 vegan tomato & broccoli soup + 
a half roasted cumin carrot & olive tapenade sandwich on semonlina w/ black sesame seeds.
the sammie was good - but there was something off about it. the soup was also good. nothing off about it. just a basic soup.

here's me : pretending to sip tea, but really just enjoying ma cloche. 

basically -- alice's tea cup is a must try for vegans...  particularly vegan scones. if you're in nyc, definitely check it out.

a quick recommend : call ahead for flavors ... one of the other locations only had pineapple. meh?