Your New Favorite Belowground Hideout

April 21, 2013

On a rainy and brisk Monday night, I sought shelter with the BF at a River North sports bar, The Grid. The below-ground space is directly underneath Baume & Brix and the two restaurants share a kitchen and kitchen staff including chefs Elliott Bowman and Ben Roche. The space itself is warm and inviting, especially on the rainy night we visited. Along one side are horseshoe-shaped leather booths, each surrounding a custom-made ethanol fireplace that extends from the ceiling.

Drink Menu
We were seated at one of the long high top tables and perused the creative cocktail list. Several of the Grid's cocktails are appropriately named after Chicago streets and landmarks including LSD, Magnificent Mile and Midway. I chose The State Streeter featuring Grey Goose Noir, lime, hibiscus syrup and Stiegl grapefruit beer while the BF chose the Little Village which included Patron Reposado, Cointreau, lemon, ginger beer and orange bitters. I was warned by our server that the State Streeter was fairly sweet and I should have listened because it was too sweet for my taste. I thought it tasted like a perfectly delicious Hi-C punch, but I just wasn't digging it. Instead, I traded for the Little Village after trying a sip of the BF's. I loved this cocktail. It wasn't too sweet or too bitter and included hints of lemon and just the right amount of "boozyness". I had no problem finishing mine!

The State Streeter & Little Village
At the suggestion of our server, we started our meal with the Arancini appetizer. This little ball of fried risotto heaven was crispy on the outside, creamy in the middle, and very cheesy. It was perfectly paired with an eggplant caponata which provided a great acidic balance and was my favorite item of the night!

Food Menu
After that fried dish, we tried one of The Grid's four salads. The Beets & Goat Cheese salad featured a mix of greens with red and yellow beets, goat cheese, pecans, shaved fennel and grapefruit. The sherry-mustard vinaigrette added a tangy bite to the dish and the grapefruit added an interesting bitter flavor. I loved the crunch from the pecans and fennel!

Beets & Goat Cheese Salad
The Grid's "Eats" section of the menu has a large variety of cuisines, making it quite hard to decide on one dish. The BF and I decided it would be best to try two different sandwiches in order to maximize our tasting experience. The first was a Greek-influenced Souvlaki Pita with grilled chicken, mint yogurt, tomato and cucumber. The chicken cubes were seasoned and grilled to juicy perfection and I loved the yogurt sauce. The sandwich was accompanied by a side feta and olive salad.

Souvlaki Pita
The second main dish we split was the Big Kahuna Burger, a newer offering on The Grid's menu. Instead of your typical beef patty, this burger included a hand-formed patty of bacon and pork. This was definitely on the heavier side of things and had a nice pineapple-jalapeno chutney that added a strong sweet and spicy flavor. The savory patty was topped with housemade teriyaki mayo and fresh cilantro and cushioned between a pillowy-soft bun. The accompanying fries were great too!

Big Kahuna Burger
While we were stuffed beyond belief, we ended up getting to try not one, not two, but all three of the desserts on the menu. I would have been fine with a bite of a chocolate chip cookie, but we were brought a plate of six piping hot and gooey cookies. Let me just say, they know how to make a mean chocolate chip cookie. It was delicately soft and rich in the middle, but crispy on the outside. To top it off, we were given two baby mason jars of vanilla-flavored milk.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Our next two desserts were interesting takes on traditional sweets. The first was a tiramisu dip served with a side of crunchy ladyfingers. The mini jar was filled with whipped mascarpone cream and dollops of an espresso ganache. We had fun dipping the ladyfingers and especially enjoyed the chocolate richness of the ganache.

Tiramisu Dip
Our final dessert of the night, was another dippable/spreadable concoction. The avocado cheesecake sounds super savory, but it was actually pretty sweet. The base of the dessert was cheesecake topped with a pineapple and avocado "salsa" and what I think were pumpkin seeds. A side of candied tortilla chips were used to scoop up the creamy cheesecake. I loved that the chips were not too sweet and that they provided a nice crunch as a contrast to the creaminess of the dip. Hints of fresh lime throughout also added to the flavor experience.

Avocado Cheesecake
Overall, we really enjoyed our first taste of The Grid! The service we received was fantastic and everyone on staff was very friendly and helpful. I'm giving The Grid 4 stars for their awesome ambiance (especially those beautiful fireplaces), menu with a variety of cuisines (Mexican, French, Italian, etc.) and their educated staff. I can't wait to make my way upstairs to try their sister restaurant Baume & Brix!

The Grid Chicago
351 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654

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