Here’s What to Order at Seven Lions – Loop, Chicago

Image via Chicago.Eater.com

Image via Chicago.Eater.com

Grab a velvet covered booth looking out on the Art Institute at Alpana Singh’s Seven Lions in the Loop. It’s a short walk from the Goodman Theater and next to Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, open for brunch, lunch and dinner makes it a convenient stop when in the Loop.

The interior is a high-low mix of rustic reclaimed wood and shiny chandeliers. The menu is American comfort food with your standard pasta, meat and fish (Larger Plates on menu) entrées. The Share Plates is where your attention should be, much more interesting ingredient and flavor combinations to easily build a meal for the whole table.

Image via Zagat.com

Image via Zagat.com

The menu favorite is the brussels sprouts and burrata which is basically a vehicle for loads of burrata and a must-order. Heaped on large slices of toast is creamy burrata and crispy fried brussels spouts. Toasted pine nuts, radicchio and apple saba – a sweet and tart syrup often used on cheese.

Seven Lions Chicago 7L Salad | AliciaTastesLife.com

Seven Lions Chicago 7L Salad | AliciaTastesLife.com

How often is a salad a highlight of a meal? The 7L Salad is a hearty, deliciously crunchy and rich salad. Nutty flavored fried chickpeas, cauliflower, cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, croutons and a healthy dose of bacon bits served with creamy parmesan dressing.

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Breakfast at The Winchester – Chicago

Vegetable Poutine The Winchester Chicago

Poutine is usually served with cheese curds, french fries and some sort of meat gravy but this is the flavor-packed vegetable poutine from The Winchester. Rich mushroom Bolognese, flash-fried potatoes, a sunny egg topped with scallions.

Little Bad Wolf – Andersonville, Chicago

Little Bad Wolf Chicago Mural

Little Bad Wolf is the type of neighborhood bar/restaurant that is a “perfect for” spot. It’s cozy with communal wooden tables yet cool with wolf artwork and teal button tufted back booth –– along with the great vibe, music, food and cocktails make LBW perfect for:

Casual drink at the bar
First/casual date
First meeting place for a drink/bite before going out
Dinner with a couple of friends
Small plates
Late night bite

Have a peek inside:

A thoughtful Continue reading

You Need To Get The Miang Sa-Wan At Opart Thai House – Lincoln Square, Chicago

Opart Thai House Lunch

Opart Thai House came recommended by a fellow food lover and she recommended the Tiger Cry, curry and Miang Sa-Wan.  The service is great, space is open and bright and the flavors transported me right back to Thailand.

Check out the restaurant and more food! Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week @TortoiseClub – River North

Tortoise Club Dining Room 1

“Comfortable clubhouse and a lively lounge” perfectly sums up Tortoise Club in River North. Tortoise Club is about a year old but feels like your grandparents old school club in a good way because you have all of the fancy schmancy and none of the stuffiness, the vibe is upbeat and fun. Plaid wallpaper covers the walls, old men with beards in paintings, white table cloths, proper service, live jazz band and beautiful Red Room and Library for private events.

photo-feature-redroom

Image via tortoiseclub.com/

Rich classic comfort food dominates the menu and on cold winter night it’s just what you need. The specialty cocktails are well made, I recommend Continue reading

Dusek’s in Pilsen – Come For the Food, Stay For the Punch House

Dusek's Window

Dusek’s is in the gorgeous Thalia Hall built in 1892 by John Dusek. The building has been completely rehabbed but keeps some old timey touches with a tin ceiling, brick walls, and plenty of refurbished wood. Thalia Hall upstairs is opening soon and will have live music while Duseks’s has the food on the ground floor and downstairs the Punch House has your drink. There will be no reason to leave this building.

Thalia-Outside-1

Image via dusekschicago.com

Word is out so a bit of patience may be required depending on when you show up as they do not take reservations. We got there just shy of 7pm on a Saturday night and the wait was an hour and a half for a table for three. Good news is you can wait at the Punch House bar where the eight house made punches, bar snacks and oysters can help pass the time. We found seats at the bar upstairs and decided to eat there.

I loved everything but the winner of the night was the first dish, black and white risotto with turnip, salsify, parsnip and smoked one hour egg. This is a rich dish but I could have easily had another order. The creamy and buttery risotto paired well with of the slight spice of the root vegetables. And who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked egg on top?

Dusek's Black & White Risotto

Griddled Panzanella Salad – Roasted romaine, griddled rosemary sourdough, pickled red onion, cucumber, oil-cured olives, fennel, tomato, and marjoram. This was a perfect counterpoint to the rich risotto dish with so many fresh flavors and crunchy textures.

Dusek's Griddled Panzanella Salad

Since we were eating at the bar it only made sense to get some bar food, stuffed pretzel with beer mustard. The pretzel is puffy and flaky and one step away from a croissant. The mustard has a pungent spice that is nice and did I mention, the pretzel is stuffed with cheese. So good!

Dusek's Pretzel

The crispy pork shank was the dish that kept on giving. It had everything saltiness, sweetness and umami with root vegetable hash, cheddar hush puppies, braised greens, and maple gastrique. The pork portion was very generous and we even had leftovers.

Dusek's Crispy Pork Shank

The drink menu has 23 craft drafts that your server will pair with any of the dishes. I am in a middle of a cleanse so did not have any drinks but did have a sip of the House Gin and Tonic and it was tasty. Letherbee gin, hopped tonic syrup, water, and CO2.
Dusek’s is worth the trek to Pilsen and wait for the table.  I will be back for the food and the music when Thalia Hall opens up.

Best Breakfast Sandwiches In Boston – Mike & Patty’s

This tiny breakfast spot on the corner of Church Street is off the beaten path but that doesn’t stop the crowds from flocking here. If it weren’t for the line outside it would be easy to miss Mike & Patty’s as it blends into the neighborhood. That and the smell of bacon.

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The Rooftop Patio is Open @ Owen & Engine | Logan Square

Owen & Engine Front Door & Sign

The weather has been amazing in Chicago and it got me thinking of places that would be opening up their outdoor seating. My first visit last year to Owen & Engine was after they closed their rooftop but I have been patiently waiting for the weather to be warm enough to sit outside at Owen & Engine. This British pub has three floors of food and drink goodness.  The food is authentically British “elevated” pub food, well-designed interior but with a neighborhood tavern feel. A wide selection of beer and spirits along with a nice selection of Pimm’s Cups.  They take their cocktails very seriously – think old timey mixologists but are very welcoming and relaxed. Decor is beautiful from the amazing bathroom wallpaper and tin ceilings to the fireplace on the second floor and the rooftop. It’s right across the street from a movie theater so you can do dinner and a movie quite easily.

I started with the beet salad. Generous portions of fried goat cheese and beets. It hit the spot.

Then onto the Gunthorp Farm Chicken Wings with Piment d’Espelette, sherry vinegar and chive créme fraiche. Deeelicious, not your typical small, overcooked wings. You can immediately taste the quality of the meat and the crisp was just right and flavor was spot on (don’t the British say that?). Bit of spice from the Piment’Espeltette and extra flavor from the creamy crème fraiche. Also happen to be half off on Wednesdays. These are second to my favorite wings in the city…but that is for another post.

Charcuterie: Housemade sausages and cured meats, stout mustard, sweet pickles and brown bread. On this particular night they served smoked head cheese, lamb coppa, duck pate wrapped in bacon (because pate isn’t pate unless it’s wrapped in bacon) and duck confit. I didn’t partake of this dish but was assured by a seasoned meat-eater every piece had great flavor and was up to their high standards.

Owen & Engine Charcuterie

I have been back to Owen & Engine two other times but unfortunately did not have a camera with me. However, if you are a burger fan, and really who isn’t, then you will not be disappointed with the burger O&E serves. The chips are amazing too.

The Slagle Farm beef burger with caramelized onion, house potato bap and chips. This burger is worth its reputation. Very juicy and very rich. In fact I ate half and was satisfied (I mean, I did eat all of my chips) and had the rest for lunch the next day. I think there are versions that come with an egg as well. Hey, why not?

On a cold night winter night I ordered the pot of hot chocolate served with cinnamon toast. Really ridiculous to get by yourself because the chocolate is so rich and you can’t possibly drink the whole pot. But it was everything you want hot chocolate to be. Strong, rich and smooth. Ideal for 3 people to share and good for breakfast/brunch or when you want a non-alcoholic drink to warm you up.

The drinks are worthy of an entire post to themselves. But with names like, Nook & Cranny, Tempest and Wounded Swede you get the picture of the thought and creativity put into their beverage menu.

Owen & Engine 2700 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL

Grilled Cheese Quest – Grahamwich

I feel like I was born to love grilled cheese. Guess it’s not that hard but I really do have a huge affection for the wonderful buttery bread and cheese combination. It’s a comfort food from my childhood that has lasted through adulthood. Good thing comfort food is so popular in Chicago.

Here is my first official stop at a restaurant solely to try their grilled cheese. If you have any recommendations for where I should take my next grilled cheese quest, please let me know!

For my first visit to Grahamwich I think I went at the perfect time, after lunch. I am assuming this place gets a lot of to-go traffic from people on their lunch break. Even if you want to eat-in the seating is limited. But after 2pm there is plenty of room at the communal table in the back and no line. The restaurant is small with a clean design and good lighting.

Grahamwich Front of Restaurant

My friend and I decided on splitting the grilled cheese (obvs), the tuna salad sandwich and the g’wich chips.

Grahamwich Tuna Salad & Grilled Cheese

The Grilled Cheese: Wisconsin cheddar + tomato marmalade + cheese curds + cracked pepper + Pullman loaf

If comfort food is what I wanted, I got a whole week’s worth from just half a sandwich. Last time I had cheese curds I was in Madison and these took me back to good ol’ Madtown. Yum. The sandwich could survive without them but what fun would that be? The tomato marmalade satiated my love for ketchup and the bread was crunchy crisp on the outside and soft once you sink your teeth into it. Enough melted cheese to satisfy anyone. I recommend this sandwich to anyone looking for a delicious, quality grilled cheese. Depending on your appetite this sandwich is plenty big enough and rich enough to split with a friend if you throw in a bag of chips.

Tuna Salad: Green beans + blistered peppers + basil pesto + black olive + rustic ciabattta

Grahamwich Tuna Salad

The polar opposite of the grilled cheese, light, more on the deconstructed side and won’t put you in a food coma after consuming. The tuna had a great flavor and it wasn’t weighed down by mayo or other condiments.  This sandwich is good for when you want a filling but healthy feeling sandwich.

G’wich chips: Yukon potatoes + fresh herbs + bacon bits + cheddar cheese + ranch powder

Grahamwich Grilled Cheese & g’wich chips

Wow. These chips come in a huge bag that you are quite sure you couldn’t possibly finish but next thing you know…you are fighting over the last chip. Genius concept combining herbs, bacon, cheese and ranch. Chips were perfectly crispy. Here, take a closer look…

Grahamich g’wich chips

Grahamwich 615 N State St Chicago, IL