Make Your Reservation Now for Momotaro – West Loop, Chicago

Momotaro has everything you could ever want in a Japanese restaurant, a sushi bar, robata station, izakaya and an extensive sake, wine and drink menu. Great attention is paid the interior design bringing Western influences from the mid-century and combing it with traditional Japanese. You can see this reflected in the furniture, fonts used for the wood-paneled drink board to the menus and inter-departmental mail envelope used to deliver the bill. Service is excellent and friendly.

Take the tour:

Video created via Tastemade

The standout was the momotaro tartare made from Continue reading

You Should Check Out Blackbird for Chicago Restaurant Week – #CRW

Blackbird Chicago Dining Room

Blackbird Chicago Dining Room

Minimalist in design with a nice play between steel, wood and glass in this intimate restaurant. Having a Michelin star and winning many a James Beard Foundation awards does not make a cheap meal this is why I suggest the prix fixe lunch menu and this week the Restaurant Week menu for $22.

Excellent service with immediate seating, jackets taken off our hands, hook for my purse and amuse bouche delivered to the table. The celery root soup has a wonderful heartiness complements of the charred endive, a velvety crème fraîche and a dash of sweetness from the grapes and hint of tart from the sprinkling of sumac. Continue reading

Salero – Basque-ish Comes to the West Loop

Salero Chicago Dining Room

The team behind Wood, one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, recently opened the Spanish inspired Salero in the West Loop. This is not a purist take on Basque cuisine, there are no tapas on the menu (these can be found at that bar only) and this is a Chicago take on Spanish food but none of this will matter as the menu has an array of consistently excellent dishes. Add in the lively atmosphere and great service and Salero is poised to be a Randolph St. favorite. Reservations recommended.

Brunch at La Sirena Clandestina – West Loop

La Sirena Clandestina Dining RoomLa Sirena Clandestina feels cozy yet open with large front windows that allow the morning light to come streaming in. There is not shortage of rustic wood highlighted by brick and teal walls. The stools, netted light fixtures and mermaid artwork give it a retro vibe.

I love a classic American breakfast but La Sirena Clandestina brings a nice change of pace with its Latin/Brazilian/Japanese take on brunch. There are so many interesting mixes of flavors in each dish. It reminded me of Myers + Chang or what I imagine Fat Rice would taste like if they served brunch.

Let’s start with the fact I found my favorite empanada in Chicago. I’ve been around the Empanada Block, from Chicago to Colombia and these won my heart. I suspect it has to do with the fact they are baked instead of fried. The phyllo-like dough was so light and airy felling similar to meringue when it melts upon hitting your mouth. Filled with baked bacon, sage and cheddar and it was clear why the whole table declared these empanadas the best.

La Sirena Clandestina Breakfast EmpanadaRabanada is a Brazilian-style fried french toast. This version was loaded with dulce de leche and bananas then dusted with powdered sugar and topped off with Cachaça, the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. Made from sugarcane it brought the dish to a whole other level of sophisticated sweet taste.

La Sirena Clandestina Rabanada French ToastPushing aside reservations that the breakfast sandwich was a “boring” choice I went with it after the server said it was one of his favorites. Reminiscent of a torta this hunk of sandwich is served on massive thick and crispy ciabatta encasing fried ham, fresh avocado, egg, and cheddar. Boring this is not.

La Sirena Clandestina Breakfast SandwichThe breakfast sandwich was served with the best potatoes I’ve had in a while. The outside was super crispy like bacon and the inside was nice and soft. Heavily seasoned with chunks of garlic this might not be a good choice during a date but it would be worth it if you did.

La Sirena Clandestina Breakfast Sandwich PotatoesThe Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake served with an ingredient combination that will leave your mouth happy and wanting more. Octopus, bacon, kewpie mayo, bean sprouts, green onions and sesame taken together in one bite will literally make you smile. Kewpie is a Japanese mayo and made with rice vinegar making it slightly sweeter than regular mayo and twice the umami taste in a creamier texture.

La Sirena Clandestina OkonomiyakiThe shrimp Baiano was another new dish to me. The taste and texture of the La Sirena Clandestina Shrimp BaianoThe polenta worked nicely with the bite of the green onions and habenero rounded out with some richness from cashews.

Finally a Kale salad that is a bit different. This was lovely with roasted poblano dressing, cotija, toasted pepitas, radish and jalapeño. We opted for the chicken but you can have shrimp as well.

La Sirena Clandestina Kale SaladLa Sirena Clandestina is a perfect brunch spot and I am looking forward to trying the dinner and drink menu I am hearing so much about. If it’s as half as good as brunch I’ll be sending all my friends there.

La Sirena Clandestina Bar

Chicago Restaurant Week 2014 – Sepia – West Loop

Sepia Pumpkin & Coconut Tart

se·pi·a [see-pee-uh] noun

1. A brown pigment obtained from the inklike secretion of various cuttlefish and used with brush or pen in drawing.

2.Photography A print or photograph made in this color.

After entering the huge wood door the decor takes on its namesake with rich brown tones throughout the space. A beautiful antique camera greets you upon entering the bar and it’s hard to resist the urge to touch it.

Sepia Camera

There is a small sitting area by the bar to wait for your table which is much more convenient than trying to pack in by the bar. The dining room opens up to a large room with giant chandeliers covered in sheer black lamp shades, glossy cream/brown tiled columns, and deep brown tables with soft fabric chairs contrasted against the dark metal doors and exposed brick. Continue reading

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

Little Goat, Big Plate – West Loop

Little Goat Cappucino

As a fan of Girl and the Goat (I wrote about my last trip here) I had wanted to try out Little Goat  since it opened in late December. We arrived at just before 2pm on a cold March Friday and it was packed. Luckily there were two seats at the diner bar waiting just for me and a friend. A woman in a purple old-timey diner waitress uniform greeted us as soon as we sat down. I thought they were cute but I could understand if one would prefer to look at them versus wear. This was confirmed when a server said, “…yeah, we looooove them.” Despite being busy the service was great with no less than 2 people checking in on us throughout our stay. Continue reading

Put An Egg On It @ Au Cheval – West Loop

Stepping into Au Cheval I instantly thought, “If Maude’s Liquor Bar had a boyfriend, this would be it”. French, cozy, dark, and mysterious. Not necessarily the words that come to mind when you think of a diner. The only thing in common with a diner is the floor plan; long counter with bar stools facing the open kitchen with ample grill space. Comfortable leather booths line the perimeter and go nicely with the relaxed atmosphere. Good to note, they do not take reservations and showing up early pays off (we got there at 6pm and only had to wait about 15 minutes).

Given this is a diner Continue reading

Top 50 Fit for Foodies Restaurants – 2011 Diners’ Choice Winners

Open Table asked their readers to rate what they consider the best restaurants in the country. Based on over 10 million restaurant reviews they compiled the following list of the top 50 restaurants for “foodies.” Link to the list is below:

Top 50 Fit for Foodies Restaurants – 2011 Diners’ Choice Winners.

Image via Metromix

Six restaurants in Chicago made the list: Blackbird, Bonsoirée, Girl & the Goat, Graham Elliot, The Publican, and Sprout Restaurant. I would definitely agree with West Loop picks of Blackbird and The Girl & the Goat, both are great spaces aesthetically and consistently serve high-quality dishes. I felt comfortable trying pig face at G&G because the preceding dishes I had were so good I thought there was no way the pig face (the name alone give me the willies) wasn’t going to be good. Blackbird is a bit more traditional but the flavor combinations are right on and they have an amazing wine list and craft cocktails. The best whitefish sandwich I’ve ever had is on the lunch menu at Blackbird.

I have not been to Bonsoirée or Sprout but hope to go soon. I’d also argue that Avec, the sister restaurant to Blackbird, should be on the list as well.

Image via