Friday, April 24

David Burke's Prime Spot Lunch

While you may know David Burke's Primehouse for its dinner service (as previously reviewed on The Ghost Guest), the River North restaurant recently launched its Prime Spot lunch program. Chef Dino Tsaknis gave the lunch menu a fresh upgrade with a variety of new food options, as well as a revised wine and beer list.

The BF and I stopped by for lunch to check out the Prime Spot menu and were quite pleased with the variety of options. If you're looking for a starter, there are a variety of salads and small plates including the classic wedge,  or wagyu beef sashimi. We opted for the charcuterie board featuring a variety of housemade and local meats. The presentation was picture perfect. Literally. I want to make this my laptop background. We enjoyed four types of cured meats, pate, and a wonderful cheddar. There were even house-smoked pickles and mushrooms. This is a charcuterie board to make all other charcuterie boards envious.

Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie Board
The Caesar salad at David Burke's is prepared tableside so we thought we'd check out the presentation and split one salad. I'm not sure if it's because I rarely eat Caesar salad or if the salad was truly delicious, but I'm going to lean toward the latter. A generous portion of Parmigiano, anchovy paste, and freshly made dressing didn't hurt. Oh, the best part? We added crab croutons which were similar to tiny croquettes. Why have regular croutons when you can have crab croutons?!

Caesar Salad Prepared Tableside
Caesar Salad Prepared Tableside
Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad
The lunch menu features a variety of large plates including a thin burger, turkey BLT, and a ribeye sandwich, among others. Of course steaks are available if you have a big lunchtime appetite. You can order anything from filets to rib eyes, to strip steak. After two appetizers, the BF and I were going to go the sandwich route (also for big appetites, it turned out).

When I saw the lobster roll on the menu, it was a done deal. The lobster roll is topped with celery, tomatoes and sits inside a gigantic bun slathered with aioli. While the lobster meat was fresh and sweet and I really liked the bite of the tomatoes, the meat-to-bread ratio was off. There was so much bread that after a few bites I had already eaten the lobster meat and was left with a hollowed piece of soggy bread. Chef Tsaknis mentioned they had tried a smaller bun but it was too small. I also would have loved to have the bread more buttery. Yes. More butter. It was slightly on the dry side so when I took a bite, there was a flurry of toasted bread flakes flying every which way. My advice? Less bread, more butter! The best lobster roll I've had to date was at Boston's Neptune Oyster. It was dripping butter and overflowing with chunks of lobster meat.

Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll
The BF ordered the porchetta steak sandwich with homemade giardiniera and burrata. The sandwich was HUGE! He could only finish half. The homemade giardiniera was definitely a high point. Super fresh and not too oily. The porchetta itself was super tender, while the burrata was perfectly soft and added a nice salty touch.

Porchetta Steak Sandwich
Porchetta Steak Sandwich
Porchetta Steak Sandwich
Porchetta Steak Sandwich
Although we were not the slightest bit hungry, we decided to order dessert. Our selection was the artistically-presented manjari chocolate budino. Each chocolate dome was perfectly velvety and rich, and included a chocolate tuile or wafer. To contrast the richness, there was a lemon granita and candied lemon peel. This dessert also is available on the dinner menu.

Manjari Chocolate Budino
Manjari Chocolate Budino
David Burke's Primehouse is a great option if you're looking for a more upscale or substantial lunch. The variety of options on the lunch menu demonstrate they're more than just steaks and spuds.

Note: My meal at David Burke's Primehouse was complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

David Burke's Primehouse
www.davidburkesprimehouse.com
Located inside The James Hotel
616 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
312.660.6000
David Burke's Primehouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23

The Inside Scoop at Ben & Jerry's: Part Two

I'm back with part two of my Ben & Jerry's adventure! If you haven't checked out part one yet, stop what you're doing and read that first. We had so much fun I couldn't pack everything into one post!

The morning of our second day in Vermont, our group headed WAY north (almost into Canada) to visit one of the dairy farms that is a part of the Ben & Jerry's Caring Dairy initiative. Caring Dairy is a voluntary program offering a framework for Ben & Jerry's farmers to improve their dairy farms based on social, economic, and environmental criteria. 42% of the carbon footprint created during the ice cream making process comes from dairy farms, highlighting the importance of this initiative.

Vermont Farm
On the Way to the Farm
Once we arrived, all of us put on plastic shoe covers to be sure we didn't track anything onto the farm. They were quite stylish (and quite slippery on the ice)!

Shoe Covers
Sporting Our Shoe Covers
We toured the farm and got up close and personal with those cows. They were truly happy cows! One  even looked like it was smiling! Since it was a dairy farm, obviously we also saw cows being milked.

Milking Cows
Milking Cows
Vermont Dairy Farm
Vermont Dairy Farm

Happy Cows!
Happy Cows!

Happy Cows!
Happy Cows!

Vermont Dairy Farm
Vermont Dairy Farm

Happy Cows!
Happy Cows!
Our next stop was at the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury, VT. Have you been there before? It's pretty great and you can take a tour (with samples of course!).

Ben & Jerry's Factory
At the Ben & Jerry's Factory
Our first task when we arrived was to taste some ice cream straight off the production line. On the day of our visit, they were making Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch, a coffee ice cream with fudge-covered toffee pieces.

Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Holy crap was this stuff delicious. When the ice cream comes off the production line it's at its freshest and is the consistency of soft serve. This is as good as it gets guys. Collectively, we polished off quite a few pints! I'm STILL dreaming of that ice cream :sigh:

Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
After we were nearly sick to our stomachs, we went on a tour of the factory. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and full of corny jokes. Laughing literally hurt because I was so full of ice cream. The factory is a 0% waste facility meaning everything from cardboard, to ice cream, to ingredient boxes gets used, sold, or recycled!

Ben & Jerry's Tour
Ben & Jerry's Tour
Ben & Jerry's Tour
Our Tour Guide Owen
We viewed the factory hard at work and of course got to sample even more ice cream!

Ben & Jerry's Tour
Ben & Jerry's Tour
Ben & Jerry's Tour
Samples on the Ben & Jerry's Tour
Post factory tour, we had a visit from several quality control guys. They showed us how they cut into pints of ice cream to ensure inclusions (mix-ins) are evenly distributed. They sliced and diced the new cookie core flavors. How do they make the core flavors? Well, that's unfortunately under wraps!

Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
Quality Control
After 30 seconds of not eating ice cream passed, it was time to try some more. We had the chance to visit the scoop shop at the factory and taste test as many flavors as we wanted. I was a kid in a (ice cream shop) candy store. New favorite flavor? Hazed and Confused: chocolate and hazelnut ice creams with fudge chips and a hazelnut fudge core. YEAH.

After eating all that ice cream, it was time to work a little off by snowshoeing! I had never gone snowshoeing before and I'll admit I was a little nervous! It ended up being so fun and it was actually not terribly cold with the sun out! The views were amazing!

Waterbury, Vermont
Vermont Views
Waterbury, Vermont
Vermont Views
Waterbury, Vermont
Snowshoeing!
Here's a great shot of our blogger gang:

Nicole from Popsugar, Angie from Bakerella, Nick from On Second Scoop, Stacie from One Hungry Mama, Kristin from Thrillist, Colin from Jezebel, Me, Sandra from Sany Says, Gwen from The LA Girl, Natalie from NJinLA, Jessie from Cakespy, (who also created an amazing illustrated recap of our trip!) Katie from Good Life Eats, and Deanna from Domestic Chicky (not pictured)!

Waterbury, Vermont
The Blogger Gang
Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing!
Of Course I Took a Selfie...The Background Was Gorgeous!
Waterbury, Vermont
Snowshoeing!
The last stop on our snowshoeing trail was the Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard. The Flavor Graveyard is where Ben & Jerry's pays tribute to their "dearly de-pinted" discontinued flavors. There were some good ones in there! Hopefully some of them can make a comeback!

Flavor Graveyard

Post-snowshoeing, we had some downtime before heading to our last dinner as a group. We were all so excited for dinner because we were finally going to find out who won the ice cream flavor contest. As a quick refresher, our group of bloggers was divided into four teams and each team created their own unique flavor. One winner based on taste test votes (from bloggers, flavor gurus, and PR and marketing folks) would win entry into the pint of the month club for an entire year!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by Ben Cohen (yes, that Ben) who announced the winner of the flavor contest.

Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen
So who won?!

My group, the Bourbon Babes with our flavor, "OH, SAP!" maple brown butter ice cream with speculoos cookie bits & swirl, plus a splash of bourbon! Everyone did a great job creating their flavors but it was awesome to win the contest and a great end to the trip. I snapped a selfie with Ben after he announced we won, and team Bourbon Babes also posed for a photo with him.

Ben Cohen & Me
Ben Cohen & Me
Team Bourbon Babes & Ben Cohen
Team Bourbon Babes & Ben Cohen
Here's the whole gang with their flavor posters!


As if the trip wasn't already amazing, the Ben & Jerry's Flavor Gurus surprised everyone by making our ice cream flavor, "OH, SAP!" and serving it for dessert. Now that was certainly a sweet ending!
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
OH, SAP! Ice Cream
I'm so thankful for the opportunity--it was truly a trip of a lifetime! Don't just take my word for it--check out photos from the other bloggers on Instagram too! By the way, if anyone wants to come help me eat my monthly Ben & Jerry's shipment, you're more than welcome!

Peace. Love, & Ice Cream

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