Friday Favorites

February 27, 2015

TGIF! Today I'm sharing a round-up of some of my favorite foods and drinks I've enjoyed over the last few weeks! It's been a whirlwind of eating and drinking, but hey, someone's gotta do it! Get ready, there's a lot of deliciousness ahead!

A few weeks ago, the BF and I checked out a restaurant we'd been meaning to try in our neighborhood, Wood. I read rave reviews about their handmade carrot agnolotti and as soon as I tried it, I knew why. The pasta was super delicate and was filled with a creamy carrot puree. There were also some roasted mushrooms mixed in that added rich flavor.

Carrot Agnolotti at Wood
We also tried the housemade burrata with apples, and candied walnuts. Yum yum yum!

Burrata at Wood
I headed out to the suburbs with some girlfriends for a fun weekend at Rivers Casino that we deemed "Fegas" AKA fake Vegas! The best part? An extremely decadent meal at Hugo's Frog Bar! I tried frog legs for the first time and I have to say, they weren't too shabby! They were sauteed in lemon butter, so that didn't hurt! 

Frog Legs at Hugo's Frog Bar
Looking for the best deal at Italian food mecca Eataly? Check out the grande piatto misto di salumi and formaggi. For $22 you get a selection of assorted meats and cheeses, along with pairings including preserves and honey. I stopped by for a snack and a glass of wine to share with the BF and it was a great way to try some of the best Eataly has to offer!

Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Formaggi at Eataly
For the BF's birthday I have this tradition of baking him something featuring the classic peanut butter and chocolate combo. This year, I was feeling extra ambitious and decided to make a double chocolate layer cake filled with eggless peanut butter cookie dough, frosted with chocolate buttercream, and topped with Reese's peanut butter cups. It took me a REALLY long time to put this bad boy together, but man was it worth it. It was only half as sweet as the BF though :) 

Check out the recipe on Picky Palate if you're up for the challenge or know someone else who's crazy about peanut butter and chocolate! I'm salivating looking at these photos...

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Cake
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Cake
The BF returned the favor by surprising me with these doughnuts from Glazed and Infused for Valentine's Day...because he knows doughnuts are my favorite food group.

Doughnuts from Glazed and Infused
Another recipe I recently tried was this farro salad from Skinnytaste. It's full of cucumbers, feta, bell peppers, lemon, olive oil, and parsley, and I substituted cherry tomatoes for the sun dried variety. It's become my new go-to weekday lunch and I'm officially obsessed with farro. 

Farro Salad
Speaking of lunch, last week I checked out The NOSH at Block 37. The NOSH is a weekly indoor food market on the first floor of Block 37 in the Loop. Each week various food vendors set up shop on Thursdays and Fridays and it's a great way to explore new cuisines or just get out of the office. I tried this amazing jerk chicken with rice and plantains from Garifuna Flava. Where else are you going to get Belizean and Caribbean cuisine during your lunch break?!

Jerk Chicken from Garifuna Flava
With this insanely cold weather we're having in Chicago, I've hopped on the ramen train. There have been so many new ramen shops opening in the city, but my very first ramen experience was actually at my fave neighborhood restaurant, HB Home Bistro. The night I had this fantastic ramen it was well below zero degrees! The pork belly ramen featured dried mushroom, shredded cabbage, grilled scallion, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, mint, and a gooey softboiled egg.

Pork Belly Ramen at HB Home Bistro
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE oysters. My mom claims I used to eat them by the bucket as a kid and I believe her. I stumbled upon the oyster happy hour at newish The Franklin Room in River North. The Franklin Room is the sister restaurant to Union Sushi + Barbecue Bar. Everyday from 5-6:30 PM you can enjoy $1 oysters! The oysters are dressed with pickled cucumber, house chili sauce, and yuzu ice! It's a great place to stop by after work for a cocktail and some appetizers.

Oysters at The Franklin Room
Another relatively new restaurant I checked out with my friend Sarah is Charlatan in Noble Square. We walked in on a weekday and luckily scored a table in the bar. While some things we had were better than others, we both enjoyed this meatball and celery root ravioli. The ravioli had an interesting brown butter balsamic sauce!

Meatball at Charlatan
Celery Root Ravioli 
There are no shortage of weekend brunch options in the city and luckily I was able to cross two more restaurants off my list: Longman & Eagle, and La Sirena Clandestina. One of the brunch items I tried at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square was their take on traditional chilaquiles. Instead of using tortilla chips, they use cavatelli pasta and top it with scrambled eggs, salsa rioja, and tomatillos. 

Chilaquile Cavatelli at Longman & Eagle
Brunch at the West Loop's La Sirena Clandestina featured a special menu featuring a collaboration with one of my favorite coffee roasters, La Colombe. All menu items infused La Colombe coffee including these brown butter crepes with coffee mascarpone, fried bananas, and candied walnuts! We also tried a coffee cured foie gras torchon with toasted brioche, and blood orange marmalade. Both were fantastic and I can't wait to return for dinner!

Brown Butter Crepes at La Sirena Clandestina 
Coffee Cured Foie Gras Torchon at La Sirena Clandestina
Enough about all the food, let's get to some of my new favorite bars! Have you heard about The Drifter? It's the speakeasy located underneath the historic Green Door Tavern that has been around since 1921! The Drifter opened in the basement in what used to be a private party and storage space. There are no signs to the small bar, just a door with knick-knacks that you knock on to gain entry. What's even better is the cocktail menu. Each cocktail is printed on custom tarot cards with drink offerings changing daily. If you're looking for interesting ambiance and an authentic speakeasy experience, The Drifter is your place.

Cocktail Tarot Card at The Drifter
I also checked out West Loop's The Betty, a bar and restaurant located adjacent to The Publican. I've been really into drinking whiskey this winter and they make a mean cocktail! I went with the Coffee & Cigarettes cocktail. It sounds gross, but it wasn't! It blended rye, sweet vermouth, Madagascar vanilla and orange flower water. I enjoyed the old school Chicago vibe there and it's a great place for after work or pre-dinner drinks. 

Coffee & Cigarettes at The Betty
Lastly, I made my way over to one of the most talked about bars in Chicago right now, Lost Lake. This tiki heaven brought to us by Paul McGee and the Land and Sea Dept. folks (Parson's Chicken & Fish, Longman & Eagle) opened recently in Logan Square. Pretty much the only similarities between Lost Lake and River North tiki bar Three Dot's and a Dash are the fact that both serve tiki cocktails. The Logan Square vibe is way different than River North (in a good way!). There are more than a dozen cocktails, 275 rums, and as an added bonus, you can order Chinese-American food from the adjacent and co-owned restaurant cleverly named, Thank You. (I was a huge fan of the Mongolian beef).

Lost Lake and Coconut Grove Cooler at Lost Lake
Cheers to a delicious weekend!


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