Tuesday, May 19

Furious Spoon: Can You Take The Heat?

Editor Note: Today marks the 5th anniversary of The Ghost Guest! 5 YEARS? Seriously, what?! Thank you to everyone who has supported this little hobby of mine for the last 5 years! The Ghost Guest was born before food blogs were "cool" or whatever you want to call it! I love sharing my foodie finds with you and I hope you enjoy reading!

Cheers!
Amanda

Furious Spoon
Furious Spoon
If you haven't jumped on the ramen bandwagon by now, what are you waiting for? It's true, there are a ton of ramen joints sprinkled throughout the city and everyone has their favorite. I stopped by Wicker Park's Furious Spoon with my sister on a weeknight to check out their ramen offerings and their namesake Furious Ramen.

Furious Spoon is still pretty new but is certainly making a name for itself. The concept comes from chef Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree and Kabocha. The menu is fairly simple, you pick one of four types of ramen bowls made with fresh noodles made in-house, and then add various toppings and sides. The restaurant is on the small side so get there early and make some friends at the communal tables.


Furious Spoon
Furious Spoon
We started with a few sides including the tako yaki which are gooey, fried wheat balls filled with octopus and topped with scallion, mayo, and tonkatsu sauce. I really wanted to like these lil' dudes, but they just didn't appeal to me. I think it was a texture thing. However, we did enjoy the house pickles including pickled mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, and peppers. They had the perfect bite for cutting the heat of our ramen.

Furious Spoon
Tako Yaki, Harumaki, Pickles
Furious Spoon
Tako Yaki
The beef brisket rice bowl was just OK as well. The brisket pieces were super fatty, but I did enjoy the flavors and the egg on top.

Furious Spoon
Beef Brisket Rice Bowl
We also tried harumaki, a Japanese vegetable spring roll with a spicy mustard dipping sauce which we both enjoyed!

Furious Spoon
Harumaki
Next up it was time for the main attraction, the ramen. My sis chose the Chicken Shio Ramen with white pepper chicken, naruto, bamboo, and a side of house-made fury sauce. This ramen was definitely on the mild side, but had a nice kick with a touch of the fury sauce. Side note: the menu includes suggested additions for each style of ramen including egg, fury sauce, or bean sprouts, to name a few. Consider adding some of these to customize your ramen bowl.

Furious Spoon
Chicken Shio Ramen
I had to try the namesake Furious Ramen with spicy miso, chasu pork belly, white pepper chicken, poached egg, marinated mushrooms, garlic relish, and fury sauce. This ramen practically has every protein and addition in one dish. Both portions were huge too. See that fire red blob below? That's the fury sauce. Holy cannoli is it spicy!!! The folks at Furious Spoon even kicked it up a notch recently because people wanted it to have more heat. I love spicy food and can usually take the heat, but damn. The ramen was so hot it gave me Kylie Jenner lips. I was OK with that because the dish was SO flavorful! I'd definitely recommend trying the Furious Ramen, just maybe get the fury sauce on the side so you can add as much or as little as you want. That's my game plan next time.

Furious Spoon
Furious Ramen
The best part of the gigantic ramen bowls at Furious Ramen? The noodles, which are made on a machine behind the counter. Fresh noodles make all the difference!

Furious Spoon
Furious Ramen
Furious Spoon
Noodle Machine
If you're a ramen fanatic, get yourself to Furious Ramen ASAP. It's a relaxed spot with great ramen bowls, awesome hip hop jams, and an even better staff. Seriously, the staff there are so nice and fun!

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

Furious Spoon
1571 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
773.687.8445
Furious Spoon on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18

The Brass Monkey

A few weeks ago I had the chance to preview The Brass Monkey's "Hits of the 70s"  and Brasserie menus. The West Loop restaurant is relatively new to the Chicago dining scene and has a truly unique concept. Everything from the decor to the dishes and drinks is influenced by the 70s. The Hits of the 70s menu features modern approaches to classic American 70s dishes, while the Brasserie menu includes French-inspired entrees.

The Brass Monkey
The Brass Monkey 
The Brass Monkey
The Brass Monkey
Much of chef Ryan Wombacher's menu is inspired by Julia Child recipes and includes playful appetizers including a cheese ball with Ritz crackers, fish styx (which actually have something that resembles fish inside), wild boar meatballs, and ground lamb sloppy joe sliders. 

The Brass Monkey
Cheese Ball, Fish Styx, Meatballs 
The Brass Monkey
Sloppy Thirds
Entrees include seared duck breast with peppercorn reduction, duck confit, and creamy polenta,  as well as pork chop & apple sauce (cue Peter Brady's Humphrey Bogart impression) with caramelized apples, squash puree and cabbage (one of my favorites of the evening).  

The Brass Monkey
Seared Duck Breast 
The Brass Monkey
Pork Chop & Apple Sauce
The roasted Amish chicken and squid ink linguini were not my favorites. The chicken lacked a punch of flavor, while the pasta's texture could have been more al dente (the scallops on top were seared beautifully though).

The Brass Monkey
Roasted Amish Chicken 
The Brass Monkey
Squid Ink Linguini
I really enjoyed the roasted Skuna Bay salmon with kale, roasted cauliflower, French lentils and tomato relish. The dish was nicely plated and vibrant.

The Brass Monkey
Roasted Salmon
It wouldn't be the 70s without a TV dinner. The Brass Monkey's version includes an upscale version of meatloaf with shortrib and A1 glaze, as well as traditional accompaniments, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and peas. While this was a very fun and true-to-form dish, I can't imagine actually ordering it off the menu. I think its appearance could be a little off-putting for some. I will say, the meatloaf had great flavor.

The Brass Monkey
TV Dinner
The Brass Monkey
TV Dinner
Lastly we enjoyed WAY too many desserts. As you know, I'm a sweets person and I thought the desserts were the best part of our meal. We tried the s'mores with a graham cracker brownie (genius!), toasted marshmallows, and cinnamon gelato,  as well as the beautifully toasted baked Alaska.

The Brass Monkey
S'mores
The Brass Monkey
Baked Alaska
My favorites were the bananas foster pudding and flourless chocolate cake. I thought they totally nailed it with both, especially that chocolate cake, which also came with a side of pistachio gelato!

The Brass Monkey
Bananas Foster Pudding 
The Brass Monkey
Flourless Chocolate Cake
The last two desserts were uber 70s, pineapple upside-down cake and dark chocolate fondue. I didn't try the chocolate fondue but the pineapple cake was certainly an upgrade from the version I was forced to make in home ec class in high school! I couldn't tell if they were using canned or fresh pineapple though.

The Brass Monkey
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
The Brass Monkey
Dark Chocolate Fondue 
If you're up for something different the next time you're near the West Loop, The Brass Monkey is your spot. I commend them for staying true to their 70s theme throughout the concept. It's clear attention to detail is their strength!

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

The Brass Monkey
www.brassmonkeychicago.com
401 N. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60642
312.763.3316
Brass Monkey Brasserie on Urbanspoon
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