Wednesday, July 23

Underground Summer Libations

River North's The Underground launched its new summer cocktail menu this month! The six new cocktails are crafted by head mixologist Jon Ruiz. On a recent visit to The Underground, I checked out samples of these new cocktails and was impressed by the wide variety of flavors and ingredients. Not to mention, then entire space at The Underground has been completely transformed.

The new cocktails include:

  • Kiwi Mule: Effen Blackberry, ginger beer, and muddled kiwis
  • Blackberry DNA: Belvedere vodka, St. Germain, agave, and muddled blackberries
  • Raspberry Bunker: Cointreau Noir, muddled raspberries, agave, pomegranate liqueur, grapefruit juice, and Piper Sonoma
  • Spiced Carrot Cake: Grey Goose Melon, Ancho Chile Liqueur, carrot juice with apple orange and pineapple juices and agave nectar
  • French Apricot 56: Oxley gin, cointreau, apricot giffards, Xante yellow label topped with Piper Sonoma
  • Cassis Martini: Bombay Sapphire, orange juice, creme de cassis, agave and basil leaves

Can you guess which drink was my favorite? Check out some photos of the new cocktails below!

Blackberry DNA
Photo Credit: The Underground
French Apricot 56
Photo Credit: The Underground
Kiwi Mule
Photo Credit: The Underground
The Underground
56 W. Illinois Street
Chicago, IL60654

Wednesday, July 16

Summer Eats at Allium

Prosecco anyone?
Allium, located on the 7th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, recently acquired a new chef who's already making waves in Streeterville. Executive Chef Stephen Wambach has a pretty impressive resume, having worked or opened restaurants in New York, Miami, Burgundy, Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, Hong Kong, Lebanon, and the list goes on. He also helped open Chicago's Epic in 2009.

I had the opportunity to sample some of his creations recently launched as part of Allium's summer menu. The beautiful restaurant is tastefully decorated, as one would expect at any Four Seasons Hotel. The food is just as beautiful, each dish delicately crafted and plated, creating the ultimate food porn. On my recent visit, we sampled a selection of smaller bite-sized versions of Chef Wambach's creations. One of the most flavorful was the fresh ahi topped with shaved black truffle. I could have watched the chefs shaving truffle The dish burst with flavor, as anything topped with fresh truffle does.

Tuna & Fresh Black Truffle
Other summer menu highlights include a white asparagus gazpacho with marcona almond, cucumber, mint, grape, and yogurt. It was almost too beautiful to eat! I loved the savory soup combined with the sweetness of the grape and almond. Other fresh options include ceviche and lemon fish crudo.

White Asparagus Gazpacho
Desserts were also unbelievable! We tried some boozy milkshakes (who doesn't love a good boozy shake?!), homemade creamisicles, brownie bites dipped in chocolate and topped with cotton candy (woah) and apricot macarons. You probably know by now that my favorite course is dessert, and I was not disappointed. I felt like I was in some sugar-filled dream where I didn't know what shape or flavored dessert would pop up next. It was glorious.

Homemade Creamsicles
Allium is a fantastic spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch, or even a glass of bubbly and some sweet treats. I can't wait to return to see what Chef Wambach creates next!

Note: my meal at Allium was complimentary, however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
120 E. Delaware Place
Chicago, IL 60611
Allium on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 15

Date Night at Bistro Campagne

The BF and I ventured to Lincoln Square for a lovely Saturday date night. We had walked past a cozy French restaurant, Bistro Campagne, while we were in the neighborhood for Maifest, and knew we had to return.

We were seated at a small table in one of the back rooms of the restaurant. It's clear the space was a house converted into a restaurant because there are several rooms that break up the dining areas. There is also a quiet patio outside. I loved how intimate the dining rooms were, it felt like we were in our own private nook.

Bistro Campagne's menu is filled with traditional French fare, including French onion soup and escargot, two starters that we tried. I almost always order escargot when dining at a French restaurant, and this was no exception. The garlic and butter sauce was amazing, and made for the perfect dip for the hot, crusty bread we were served. The French onion soup also was a hit and overflowed with a massive, thick layer of gruyere.

French Onion Soup
Escargot in Garlic-Pernod Butter
For the main course, the BF ordered the steak frites. The portion of steak was generously topped with bordelaise and a dollop of herb butter. The frites had the perfect balance between crispy and soggy, and did a great job of soaking up the juices and sauce from the steak.

Steak Frites
I was in the mood for something lighter so I ordered trout with fresh citrus, capers, brown butter, and green beans. The portion of fish was gigantic! I loved the freshness of the trout and how the fish was served skin-on. It was super crispy but still managed to soak up the butter and citrus. I vowed to take half home, but, as is always the case, I became a member of the clean plate club. Oops.

Trout, Citrus, Capers, Brown Butter, Green Beans
Bistro Campagne is perfect for a special occasion meal, or romantic dinner. It truly has a neighborhood and intimate feel, and the food is consistently delicious. I'm giving Bistro Campagne four ghosts for their warm atmosphere, reasonable prices, fresh French fare, and knowledgeable servers.

Bistro Campagne
4518 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Bistro Campagne on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14

Jazzed Up Brunch at Hubbard Inn

Ambiance at Hubbard Inn
There is never a shortage of Chicago restaurants that serve Sunday brunch, which makes it so hard to choose where to go! I stopped by River North's Hubbard Inn to join fellow foodies for a jazz brunch, complete with a live four-person jazz band. I had never been to Hubbard Inn so I was excited to sample some brunch entrees and take in the unique ambiance.

Live  Jazz Music
We started our brunch with a few "appetizers" that were a meal in themselves. We chowed down on an assortment of mini muffins, a cold seafood platter with oysters, shrimp, and crab legs, and a smoked salmon and bagel platter. It was truly indulgent!

We also tried an assortment of brunch cocktails, including A Steep Escape, with Belevedere lemon tea vodka, St. Germain, lemon, bitters, and champagne. I love anything with St. Germain so I became quite attached to this cocktail!

Assorted Mini Muffins
Smoked Salmon & Bagel Platter
Cold Seafood Platter

A Steep Escape
While I shared some brunch appetizers with my fellow foodies, each of us had the opportunity to select one brunch entree of their choice. The BF, who was my guest, went with a chorizo and goat cheese flatbread. The chorizo is made in house and the flatbread also was topped with piquillo peppers and shaved radishes.

Chorizo & Goat Cheese Flatbread
I chose the short rib hash with caramelized onions, roasted peppers and eggs. The hash brown potatoes were delicious, and I loved the tender short rib. This was a great choice!

Short Rib Hash
One of the most interesting brunch menu items is definitely the Breakfast Monte Cristo. This behemoth of a breakfast sandwich is a sleeper hit. It's loaded with banana, peanut butter, and bacon, and sandwiched between two pieces of brioche. It's also battered and deep fried and then topped with chocolate syrup for good measure. Luckily, someone else ordered this so I was able to try it. I was surprised at how light it actually was! I'm not sure I could eat the entire thing, but it's definitely something fun to share.

Breakfast Monte Cristo
Hubbard Inn is a great spot for many occasions, but their jazz brunch helps them stand out in the crowd of Chicago brunch restaurants. Hop on over for Sunday brunch, relax with some jazz, and sip on some bubbly!

Note: my meal at Hubbard Inn was complimentary, however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Hubbard Inn
110 W. Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Hubbard Inn on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 26

A Hidden Gem on Jeweler's Row

Located in the recently renovated Silversmith Hotel on historic Jeweler's Row, Adamus is serving up cocktails, small plates, and seasonal entrees in a classy setting. I'll be honest, I'd never heard of the Silversmith Hotel so I was a bit intrigued when I was invited to check out the menu at its lobby restaurant.

The restaurant houses a large circular bar, lounge-style booths, and community tables which make it easy for groups large and small to enjoy the space for post-work drinks and bites, or a full meal. The all-day menu includes bar bites and larger entrees, an extensive list of cocktails with fresh ingredients and house-infused liquors, as well as wine, and craft beer.

Main Bar at Adamus
Photo: Silversmith Hotel
My friend Sarah and I stopped in on a Thursday night to sample some of the cocktails and bites (it ended up being one heck of a feast!). We started with some cocktails including the Cantaloupe Basil Refresher with basil, vodka, lime, and cantaloupe, and the Grapefruit Bliss, with aperol, house-infused grapefruit vodka, and fresh grapefruit. 

Cantaloupe Basil Refresher & Grapefruit Bliss
Later in the evening we also tried the Green Tea Revenge with basil, house-infused jasmine green tea tequila (yum), and fresh grapefruit, as well as the Libertine with elderflower, ginger puree, green chartreuse, house-infused lime vodka, and fresh lime. The cocktails were very fresh and we appreciated the addition of house-infused liquors and fresh fruits and herbs.

Green Tea Revenge & the Libertine
Adamus has a bar menu with smaller plates for sharing, as well as a larger plate menu with more substantial entrees. The chef brought us a selection of small plates from the bar menu to start. We enjoyed a cheese and charcuterie board with three types of cheese, including a Humboldt Fog sheep's milk cheese that was incredible, house-made pickles and terrine, and salami.

Charcuterie Board
We also tried the broiled Wianno oysters topped with creamed spinach, bacon, and gremolata. These were pretty rich so I only had a few, but they definitely packed a lot of flavor. I'm a huge fan of oysters, (I can easily eat them by the bucketful) but much prefer them raw.

Broiled Wianno Oysters
We also tried a flight of three homemade croquettes, including lobster, pork, and short rib. One of the restaurant's specials is on Thursdays when they offer three croquettes for $3 from 4-8pm.  Our favorite was the pork croquette since we thought the others lacked enough flavor.

Lobster, Pork, & Short RibCroquettes
In addition to the three croquettes, we also sampled a trio of sliders including, pork belly, crab cake, and beef brisket. These also are offered for $3 on Thursday. The pork belly was the clear winner here.

Pork Belly, Crab Cake, & Brisket Sliders
The last bar bite we tried before our main courses were the fried pickles.  The pickles are housemade bread-and-butter style and had a sweet flavor that went well with the salty batter. They're served with a country mustard aioli, and chipotle creme for dipping.

Fried Housemade Pickles
Adamus offers an additional menu of larger plates that can be enjoyed in the main dining room. The menu is on the heavier side because it was developed when the restaurant was set to open in February. However, Chef Nelson Erazo will be updating the menu with summer options in early July.

We tried the beef tenderloin with potato and creamed corn. It was perfectly cooked to our liking and the potato was also delish.

Beef Tenderloin
Adamus makes its own pasta, so I had to try the Lamb Bolognese with handmade mint pappardelle, foraged mushrooms, cipollini onions, and a pomodoro sauce. I loved the texture of the pasta and the amount of lamb meat, but felt the sauce could have used some more flavor.

Lamb Bolognese
We also tried the walleye pike with grits and tomatoes. This was definitely a Southern-style dish and was quite rich. I enjoyed the grits but had hoped the fish was served next to them so I could really taste the fish instead of it being drowned in buttery grits.

Fennel Dusted Walleye Pike
Last, and certainly not least, we tried two desserts. The first was the Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with a marcona almond crust. It was topped with homemade apricot compote as well. We loved the velvety smooth texture and the compote.

Fromage Blanc Cheesecake
One of the best bites of the night was the Warm Raspberry Chocolate Cake. It had the texture of a rich fudge brownie and was served with a generous scoop of Oberweis vanilla ice cream. We were both SO stuffed but couldn't seem to put our forks down. Always save room for dessert.

Warm Raspberry Chocolate Cake
Overall, Adamus has great potential. It's a beautiful space with tasty cocktails and bar bites. Its location is close to many area attractions, however, it's hard to find within the hotel (they mentioned they are working on outdoor signage and an awning). Additionally, they offer several weekly specials including $1 oysters on Tuesdays, 50% off wine bottles on Wednesdays, and three for $3 croquettes and sliders on Thursdays. The next time you're near Jeweler's Row, stop in for a cocktail and some small plates at the bar, or one of the swanky private booths.

Note: my meal at Adamus was complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

(inside Silversmith Hotel)
10 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
Adamus - Silversmith Hotel on Urbanspoon