Thursday, March 19

Bavette's Chicago: The Best $26 You'll Ever Spend

You know that restaurant where everything is incredible from the ambiance, to the food and service? That's Bavette's. The River North French-inspired steakhouse is another hit from Brendan Sodikoff's Hogsalt group. While not new, it's become my new favorite go-to. I thought I'd combine two visits into one post to show the wide variety of options you can order.

First off, I have to mention the vibe at Bavette's. It's not a stuffy, pretentious steakhouse, but rather a swanky, speakeasy atmosphere with exposed brick, and flickering candlelight. There is a great cocktail and wine menu, and I have to mention their BYOB "policy." It's not really a policy at all. Essentially, you're allowed to bring in your own bottle of wine, the only price is that you have to share one glass with someone in the restaurant. That could be a person of your choosing, or your server will pick someone (usually someone celebrating a special occasion). That's it! (I tried this and it was great!)

The restaurant features a nice variety of starters, salads, and seafood that are a great way to kick off your meal. The baked crab cake is wonderfully loaded with blue crab and accompanied with a side of remoulade. They certainly don't skimp on the seafood with this dish.

Baked Crab Cake
Baked Crab Cake
There is also a selection of East Coast and West Coast oysters, as well as seafood towers featuring crab, shrimp, or lobster.

Fresh Oysters
Fresh Oysters
My favorite starter has to be the smoked trout Caesar. Instead of anchovies, the salad gets its smokey, salty flavor from bits of smoked trout that are fantastic. This salad is loaded with flavor and is a modern take on the classic.

Smoked Trout Caesar
Smoked Trout Caesar
Another starter I tried on my first visit to Bavette's was the baked goat cheese. This really is a no-brainer if you love baked cheese and red sauce. The garlic bread is soft and buttery, and makes for a great dipping vessel. It's pretty hard to screw up a dish like this.

Baked Goat Cheese
Baked Goat Cheese
As you can see, there are quite a few starter options at Bavette's. But the real star of the menu in my opinion, is the steak frites. For $26 you get a 10 ounce USDA prime flat iron steak with Bearnaise sauce and handcut fries. Obviously I always order steak at Bavette's and this has become my go-to (as well as everyone else's). I think it's the best steak frites in the city, and you certainly can't beat the price. The meat is delicately seasoned, allowing the true flavor of the steak to shine through. It's also served with a side of steak salt if you want to add a little extra kick of seasoning. I barely use any of that Bearnaise sauce because the meat itself has so much flavor. And then there are the fries. They can't be beat.

There are other steak varieties available including several filet mignon options (petite, traditional, bone-in), and a 22 ounce bone-in dry aged ribeye if you're super hungry. Non-steak options include roasted bone marrow, broiled salmon, fried chicken, and shortrib stroganoff. There's really something for all taste buds. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of any of those items because we always have our heart set on the steak frites! Next time I should try something new...maybe.

Steak Frites
Steak Frites
Lastly, I can't forget about one of the most delicious pies in Chicago, Bavette's chocolate cream pie. It may be difficult to save room for dessert but I promise you it's worth it. The filling is silky smooth and rich, but the crust is my favorite part. One bite and you know exactly what it is. Oreo! The giant dollop of freshly whipped cream on top also doesn't hurt. Just get the pie!

Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie
If you couldn't tell already, I'm a huge fan of Bavette's. It's a great place to gather with friends or family, or even just grab a drink and meal at the bar. The staff is friendly and helpful, and everything I've tried on the menu has been fantastic. It may be hard to snag a reservation at Bavette's, but I have one bit of advice. Follow Dishable Chicago on Twitter. They tweet available reservations at Chicago's top restaurants and that's how I scored my first reservation at Bavette's.

I'm giving Bavette's...wait for it...a perfect 5 ghosts out of 5!



Bavette's
www.bavetteschicago.com
218 W. Kinzie St.
Chicago, IL 60654
312.624.8154
Bavette's Bar and Boeuf on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 17

Spanish Seafood at Its Finest: mfk.

I think I've found one of my new favorite restaurants in Chicago: mfk. mfk is a tiny Spanish and seafood-focused restaurant on the border of Lakeview and Lincoln Park. Don't take my word that it's great. It was recently named one of the Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2015 by GQ. What makes it so great? The food, the atmosphere, and the hospitality.

I stopped by on a Friday night and enjoyed quite the feast. The menu is made for sharing, so I'd recommend a meal at mfk. with friends who love to share and who love seafood (although there are several non-seafood options).  We started with the Manchego and speck croquettes which melted in your mouth. The roast garlic aioli was a nice sidekick for dipping.

Manchego & Speck Croquettes, Roast Garlic Aioli
Manchego & Speck Croquettes, Roast Garlic Aioli
On the much lighter side, we tried the sea bass ceviche which is plated on top of three squid ink tostadas. The fish was fresh and acidic with the touch of lime, and there also was a dollop of pablano guacamole hiding underneath.

Ceviche, Poblano Guacamole, Squid Ink Tostada
Ceviche, Poblano Guacamole, Squid Ink Tostada
One of the sides we tried were the Brussels Sprouts with garlic, shallots, almonds, and a touch of preserved lemon. They were nice and buttery and would make it easy for anyone to eat their veggies.

Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Shallot, Almond, Preserved Lemon
Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Shallot, Almond, Preserved Lemon
Another non-seafood item on mfk.'s menu is the tempura eggplant drizzled with honey, cilantro, and Flore de Sardo. The sliced cheese on top was similar to a grana padano. These were great for munching on while we awaited our next courses.

Tempura Eggplant, Spiced Honey, Cilantro, Flore de Sardo
Tempura Eggplant, Spiced Honey, Cilantro, Flore de Sardo
The Albondigas, or pork and veal meatballs, were also a hit. They arrived with a generous amount of white bean puree, as well as chopped almonds. The puree was thick and smooth and nicely balanced the hearty meatballs.

Albondigas: Pork & Veal Meatballs, White Bean Puree, Almonds
Albondigas: Pork & Veal Meatballs, White Bean Puree, Almonds
The next dish we tried was absolutely my favorite, the "Fideous" toasted vermicelli with asparagus, bell pepper, poblano, and saffron. The noodles were slightly crispy but that sauce was so incredibly creamy and comforting! The saffron not only added gorgeous color, but also intense flavor. The dish had just the right amount of kick as well. I'm seriously dreaming about eating this dish right now.

"Fideous" Toasted Vermicelli, Asparagus, Peppers, Poblano, Saffron
"Fideous" Toasted Vermicelli, Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Poblano, Saffron
Back to the seafood options! We tasted the grilled octopus which was also fresh and simply prepared compared to other items we tried. There were even some large homemade potato chips on top, which were obviously tasty.

Grilled Octopus
Grilled Octopus
Our last seafood dish of the night was the manila clams with piperade, citrus butter, and sunflower seeds. I'm not the biggest fan of clams, but I appreciated the color and flavors of this dish. If you like clams, you'll enjoy this option.

Manila Clams, Piperade, Citrus Butter, Sunflower Seeds
Last, but certainly not least, we finished with mfk.'s signature basque cake. The cake is buttery and fluffy and to die for! This may be the one dish you decide not to share with others. I wouldn't judge you.

Basque Cake
Basque Cake
Luckily for me (not so much for my wallet), mfk. is just down the street. I love the intimate atmosphere and the semi-condensed menu. There's nothing more overwhelming than a gigantic menu, but mfk. focuses on what it does best.

I'm giving mfk. 4.5 ghosts out of 5!



mfk.
432 W. Diversey Parkway
Chicago, IL 60614
773.857.2540
Mfk on Urbanspoon

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