27 August 2014

fig & olive.

new restaurant alert : fig & olive in river north.

per their website : "fig & olive embodies its origins from the south of france, italy & spain ... [&] captures the essence of the french riviera." getting excited! 

the girls & i decided to head to fig & olive for a few reasons.
   1. it's new & we like new.
   2. we wanted to feel like real housewives for a minute.
   3. it was one of our bestie's bdays ... hbd, joelle! 

birthday girl w/ birthday dessert!


anyway, here's what i had ...

crostini :
avocado, cilantro & tomato. 
one bite goodness. 

carrot & brussels sprouts :
carrot confit in olive oil, cumin, orange juice, cilantro, spanish onion, charmoula, dry apricot & harissa.
this is food i like. i wish i could have ordered a big version of this for my meal. maybe next time?

artichoke :
garlic & balsamic.
also good, but it confused me because it was cold. we were all expecting something hot.

zucchini carpaccio :
lemon, pine nuts & picholine olive oil.
not going to lie, this is one of the dumbest things i've ever eaten as a vegan. did it taste good? yes. did i need to spend $14 on sliced raw zucchini, olive oil & pine nuts? no.

sautéed spinach :
fig, garlic & marcona almond.
really delish, but also kind of just a side of spinach.

ok, two things i should note... 
   1. i couldn't decide what i wanted for dinner. maybe i did bad ordering, but i just wasn't obsessed with anything on the menu. 
   2. when i told our server i was vegan, she asked if that meant no fish. yes, it does mean no fish. she then said she would ask her manager what i could have. when she came back, so gave me two items, which were obvious. (something quinoa & the zuc carpaccio ... i had to ask about each of these other things i had.) she also said, & i quote... literally : "my manager wanted me to tell you that a new study just came out that says plants feel pain when you eat them." 

guys, anyone who has read this blog before knows that i rarely don't like my food ... and that i rarely have these kind of weird conversations with people. maybe since this happened before i even ordered, i felt like it soured the meal a little bit. oh, well. there's always next time.

--
fig & olive
104 e. oak street
chicago, il 60611

24 August 2014

blue door farm stand.

summer of salads!! i mean, that's what you're supposed to eat in the summer, right? think light.

anyway, there's a new girl in town. and let me tell you, she's a beaut ... blue door farm stand in lincoln park has been one of my go-to shops for salads this summer for a few reasons.

1. i love the walk from lakeview to lincoln park. great people watching, nice distance, the perfect lil amount of casual exercise.

2. the citrus & kale salad is the shiz.

jumping the gun a little bit. first, a few words about this place : "the café features fresh, seasonal food & drink from local farms & farmers' markets ... our philosophy at blue door farm stand is simple. we believe in the seasons dictating what's on the table." check & mate.

blue door!

here's what i had ...

citrus & kale salad :
orange segments, pears, apples, strawberries, walnuts, almonds, cranberries & apple cider vinaigrette. no bleu cheese. 
i've said this before & i'll say it again, i usually am not into nuts on my salad. but just as beatrix & crosby's kitchen changed my opinion about fruit (dried or otherwise) on my salads, blue door has officially changed my stance on nuts. (haha, laugh it up.) this is a fresh, beautiful salad & you simply cannot ask for anything more.

between now & whenever our typical chicago sub zero weather rolls around, i approximate that i'll walk to blue door 3-4 more times. see ya there?

--
blue door farm stand
843 w. armitage
chicago, il 60614

20 August 2014

beatrix.

basically since beatrix (in river north) opened ... i've been wanting to go. so one day, i played hooky from work & finally went with mah pal, blair. us girls needed some pre-spin class calories!

anyway, about : "beatrix is a neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse & meeting place ... chef partners susan weaver, rita dever & john chiakulas have created a menu inspired by food made in lettuce entertain you's test kitchen." k, we know i love lettuce, so lez go!

here's what i had ...

supernatural chopped salad :
spinach, romaine, baby greens, celery, cucumber, tomato, dried corn, michigan peaches, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, green beans, basil, market vinaigrette. 
i mean the title itself is enough to sell me 100%. plus, this is the dish that made me love fresh fruit in my salads. when i saw michigan peaches, i was iffy. but they were perfect! the fact that they were the ideal ripeness helped, i'm sure ... but either way. 

beatrix is also just a super cool environment ... i could hang out there & sip iced tea all afternoon. they've got a few other items i'd like to try ... so i'm certain i'll be back soon.

--
beatrix
519 n. clark street
chicago, il 60654

17 August 2014

stella barra pizzeria.

for quite some time, i had been wanting to try another one of lettuce entertain you's relatively new restaurants ... this time, stella barra pizzeria in lincoln park.

stella barra is connected to summer house santa monica, which i visited back in march. the about section : "stella barra is a seasonally-inspired pizzeria serving up the finest artisan-style pizzas." this wouldn't be a chicago blog without frequently featuring pizza...

apologies in advance ... the photos aren't that good (and therefore, probably do not do the food justice). we were sitting outside in stella's amazing patio area, so the lighting wasn't ideal. and since my photoshop skills are extremely limited, this is what you get.

here's what i had ...

wild arugula & summer squash salad :
shaved nichols farm squash, fresh mint & shallot vinaigrette. (no cheese.)
fresh & summery. doesn't get much better.

heirloom spinach & purple kale :
medjool dates, cracked black pepper, lemon zest & mustard vinaigrette. (no cheese.)
i liked this better than the squash salad ... it featured kale, so obviously loved. but it also was somehow better. i don't know, personal preference, i guess. 

rossa pizza :

arugula, roasted garlic, calabrian chilies, sweet basil, herbs & evoo.
an already vegan item on the menu. oh, and listed first in the pizza section. great flavors ... great crust ... and the perfect amount of spiciness. molto bene.

guys, i know i like everything. but i really liked stella barra. the food was awesome ... and in the summer, if you are lucky enough to sit in the patio, you're going to have an extra lovely meal. check them out.

--
stella barra pizzeria
1954 n. halsted street
chicago, il 60614

13 August 2014

annette's italian ice.

since my obsession with athenian room has continued well into this summer, i've been spending a lot of time in lincoln park. one night, after dinner at said obsession with my gal pal, carly, we decided to walk down the street for some dessert.

enter annette's italian ice, a little window from which you can choose from a ton of italian ice, ice cream & fro-yo options.

here's what i had ...

chocolate & black cherry italian ices :
looks good, right? it was delicious. 
but i'll always be partial to my lakeview fave : anthony's

annette's is a great, easy spot to pop into during the hot summer ... and with so many options, you can't go wrong. 

--
annette's italian ice
924 w. armitage ave.
chicago, il 60614

10 August 2014

prasino : brunch.

well, i've found it. my new favorite brunch place in all of chicago ... it's prasino on division in wicker park. a mini-schlep from lakeview, but really, well worth it.

my last trip to prasino was a few years ago (wow, right around when i started this blog!) and for dinner. so quite different from this meal ... i remember liking my dinner at prasino, but i think it's safe to say i loved my brunch even more.

prasino is especially nice in the warm weather. they have a large outdoor seating area ... perfect for what has been a so-far-not-too-intense chicago summer.

but first! some reminder details about this amazing place : "as a premiere eco-friendly family of restaurants, we have made it our mission to serve only the highest quality, farm-to-table ingredients for our guests to savor." you had me at hello.

here's what i had ...

tofu scramble :
spinach, tomato, onion & seitan chorizo. 
ok, i know this looks like a plate of high-end dog food ... and that you're supposed to have colorful plate of bright fruits & veggies to be balanced, but sometimes -- beige & brown are best. anyway, spot on flavors. huge portion. generally delicious. this is hangover food for vegans if i've ever seen it.

side of vegan pancakes :
(!!!) 
sorry, i didn't put the syrup on, which did make them look even more scrumptious. however, with my huge plate of vegan heaven (see above), i couldn't even eat half of the pancakes.

oh well. there is always next time ... which there certainly will be. 

--
prasino
1846 w. division street
chicago, il 60622

03 August 2014

ramen-san.

on the same day as our trip to handlebar, josh & i also met a few friends (hi, carly & joelle!) for dinner at one of lettuce entertain you's newest restaurants ... ramen-san, a ramen (obviously) joint in river north.

what is ramen-san all about, you ask? well : "ramen-san is a lively, neighborhood restaurant & bar in river north reminiscent of traditional ramen shops in japan. the space is raw, anchored by exposed brick & reclaimed wood, which makes for an understated, yet inviting ambiance." faboosh!

but that's not the only reason we decided to eat hot soup on a 80+ degree, 100% humidity (yea, it was raining) day ... we also went because our favorite server in all of chicago is now working there! HOLA, ilana! guys, if you go to ramen-san, you should definitely ask to be in her section.

anyway, here's what i had ...

salad-san :
carrot-ginger dressing.
your basic asian salad ... but the carrot-ginger dressing was somehow more tasty than most other carrot-ginger dressings out there. 

shiitake :
no shiitakes! mushroom broth, tofu, cabbage & veggies.
ramen-less ramen.
okay, as you see -- here's where things took a turn. the noodles at ramen-san are NOT vegan ... that means, no noodles for us, substitute extra cabbage.

hmm. i have a couple of issues with this ... 1. is that lettuce restaurants are usually so so so so so good about accommodating dietary needs! the noodles they offer aren't vegan, but they also aren't gluten-free ... so a lot of people actually can't eat the ramen. 2. is that the ramen-san shiitake broth is on the saltier side, so without any noodles to balance that out ... let's just say i was super thirsty all night after dinner.

so ramen-less ramen ... does this mean i won't go back to ramen-san? yes & no ... if they get some vegan noodles, i'd definitely try it again. until then, guys -- i suggest slurping turtle or wasabi. sorry, ramen-san!! 

--
ramen-san
59 w. hubbard street
chicago, il 60654