Belly Q Knows How to Throw a BBQ – West Loop

Wednesday night in Chicago, Tasting Table and Belly Q teamed up for a huge summer BBQ in the West Loop and it was what a BBQ should be. Great company, plenty of drinks, ridiculously delicious food and a really fun atmosphere.

Want to get a glimpse of more food and inside the BellyQ party? Check out my video!

Belly Q Alicia and Dana

We were greeted and given the low down on where to get our drinks, food and hang out. The crowd was lively, music was good and the smells from the kitchen were unbelievable. We grabbed a drink (Hendrick’s gin & tonic with cucumber and Prosecco) and proceeded to have appetizers of rice-paper rolls with cucumber, soba noodles and mint and crispy tofu with sweet-and-sour sauce. These had great flavor and were a perfect crisp and light start to the richer meat that was to come.

I didn’t get a chance to try the shrimp with curry sauce but it looked delicious and people were snatching it up quickly. Continue reading

Top 10 Burger In Chicago? Grange Hall Burger Bar

Grange Hall Burger Bar Outside‏It was a bright Sunday spring afternoon and I was on a mission for a burger. I had heard Grange Hall Burger Bar was worth checking out for their burgers and I am glad I stopped in.

Located on Randolph street among restaurant row, Grange Hall offers a nice change of pace. The minute you walk through the little red door you are transported to a down home country-style kitchen. Continue reading

Cozy Winter Night @ Girl and the Goat & The Aviary

It’s been a couple of years since I have been to Girl and the Goat, Stephanie Izard‘s wildly successful restaurant.  Having great memories I was excited to go back. I usually don’t have the patience to get reservations at places like The Aviary but I was lucky my friend Dana did so off we were after dinner.

It’s not news that The Girl and the Goat is a great restaurant.  I was curious to see if the food was at the same level it was two years ago. As expected, when we arrived early it was already full. The mood is energetic, loud and crowded but comfortable at the same time. We scored some seats at the bar and waited for the walk-in table to open up. The server’s laid-back nature was coupled with extensive menu knowledge and patience to know when to cut through our chatter and questions.

Every bit was as I remembered and satisfying, definitely worth the wait. The chickpea fritters, roasted cauliflower and the chicken were the standouts in terms of flavor and being perfectly cooked. I did convince the table to get the Pig Face dish, I still liked it but it was met with mixed reviews. This was mainly due to not being able to mentally get over the name of the dish.

Chickpea Fritters – stewed chickpeas, pickles, red onion, crave brother’s mozzarella

Roasted Cauliflower –  pickled peppers, pine nuts, mint

Hen Of The Woods Mushroom Ragout – sweet potato agnolotti, shroom creme fraiche, capers.

Escargot Ravioli –  bacon, tamarind-miso sauce (not pictured)

Ham Frites – smoked tomato aioli, cheddar beer sauce

Wood Fired Walter’s Chicken – yuzu harissa, fried pickles, brussel slaw, grilled naan

Girl and the Goat Ice-Cream

Girl and the Goat Ice-Cream

We took the short walk to the Aviary in Fulton Market. It was a much-needed constitutional as you can see we over-served ourselves at dinner. The Aviary creates beautifully complex drinks that are really works of art; innovation is the name of the game. Exactly what you would expect from Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next fame.  It is not for your every day ($16 – $30 each drink) and I suppose the hard to get reservations adds to the feeling of exclusivity of the experience. It’s the perfect place for a date, entertaining out-of-town guests, any official celebration, and in our case a group of 4 looking to indulge and be impressed. In hindsight, it may have been a better idea not to eat a 10,000-calorie meal beforehand, as the drinks are meals unto themselves.

Although the drinks and in turn The Aviary are serious and complex they are also fun and interactive. I felt like Willy Wonk must have created the Rob Roy that consisted of scotch served in a bag of lavender air that you must break before drinking. I had the root beer mainly because I love to say the word sassafras but it was a delicious balance of caramel and Fernet.  The egg nog was a perfect winter night drink warm, rich and cozy. Did I mention it had fresh truffles?!

Rob Roy – lavender air, Pedro Zimenez 1985, scotch

Root Beer – sassafras, caramel, Angostura, Fernet, rum

White Truffle Egg Nog – fresh truffle, egg, Jamaican rum

Persimmon – Gewürtztraminer, Blanc de Blanc, cognac

In the Rocks (second edition) – Benedictine, vermouth, cognac, rye

scotch with lavendar air, lavendar bitters, cognac ice egg, egg nog

We all experienced full sensory, visual and taste satisfaction and enjoyed a hearty slumber that night.

La Colombe Torrefaction — New Coffee Cafe on Randolph




Image Via



I was reading Time Out and saw an article on this new coffee shop that opened on Randolph. What caught my attention was this description from the article, “The latest is La Colombe’s Pure Black, an endurance-strength bottled iced coffee in which Corsica grounds (a blend of Brazilian, Colombian, Honduran and Mexican beans) steep for 16 hours in stainless-steel wine tanks before being pressed, filtered twice and bottled by hand at the roastery’s headquarters in Philadelphia.”

I’m not an avid coffee drinker and that description made my mouth water. I wonder if all of those steps really make a coffee taste better?


La Colombe Torrefaction — Cafes.

Free Things To Do This Weekend – Art & Farmer’s Market

Image via scheeringafarms

For those of you not going to Lollapalooza, Chicago offers several free events around town. Here are just a few:

Neighborhood Farmer’s Markets. Great chance to support your own neighborhood or get out and explore a neighborhood that is new to you and eat some good food.

Bridgeport Farmers Market: Saturday 7 am  – 1 pm at 35th & Wallace  Chicago, IL 60616

Farmer’s Market: Portage Park, Sunday 10 am – 2 pm at Central and Berteau Ave in Portage Park. The Friends of Portage Park website also includes a great feature called What’s In Season growing chart. You can track when your favorite foods will be ready to eat.

Wicker Park and Bucktown Farmers Market: Sunday 8 am – 2 pm in Wicker Park, 1500 N. Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Lincoln Park Farmers Market: Saturday 7 am – 1 pm at Lincoln Park High School Parking Lot, Armitage Ave. & Orchard St., Chicago, IL 60647


Chicago Cultural Center on Washington Street across from Millenium Park is a beautiful building and center that offers free concerts, art and houses the worlds largest Tiffany stained-glass dome.  Just walking around the building is enough to get your art fix. Some free current exhibitions:

Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens: Features black and white photography of 24 landmarks and historic districts from various artists.

Movie Mojo: Hand-Painted Posters from Ghana: Posters from the 1980s that are Ghanaian takes on Hollywood, Bollywood and other cultural movie phenomenons.

Public Group Tours are presented Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1:15pm. Located at Randolph Street lobby, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602

The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art is another great source for (free) art. Including works from Warhol in its current exhibitions:

Go Figure: The human form as interpreted by nine different artist using various art mediums.

Warhol at Work: Portrait Snapshots, 1973-1986: Polaroid and black and white photographs taken by Warhol of his friends, parties and the New York streets.

Have a great weekend!