Friday, June 12

Friday Favorites

It's finally Friday (woo!) and that means it's time for another edition of my Friday Favorites. Here's a round-up of some of my favorite food and drink around the city lately!

Prime & Provisions

DineAmic Group, the team behind hot spots Siena Tavern, Bull & Bear and Public House, recently opened a steakhouse at the corner of Lasalle and Wacker. The space is stunning and HUGE. They have quite the spread of seafood, including the oysters below (I probably could have devoured that entire spread), steaks, and sides.

Prime & Provisions
Oysters at Prime & Provisions
Rockit Bar & Grill

Last month River North's Rockit reopened after a complete renovation. The space is totally modern and there's a gorgeous white marble bar when you walk in. Along with the new space is an entirely revamped food and drink menu. I was impressed with all of the food options I tried, especially the Not Your Mama's Tot Casserole with chunks of braised short rib, mushrooms, pearl onions and truffle oil. It's a handful! I also loved the crispy pork and broccoli salad with Hook's five year cheddar, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, dates, and sherry vinaigrette. OMG so good!

Rockit
Not Your Mama's Tot Casserole
Rockit
Crispy Pork & Broccoli Salad
Nando's PERi-PERi

When I found out one of my favorite restaurants from my semester abroad in London was coming to Chicago, I was thrilled! Nando's PERi-PERi is a South African-Portuguese restaurant with restaurants across the globe. They are known for their spicy flame-grilled chicken which is marinated in PERi-PERi (an African Bird's Eye Chili) for 24 hours, grilled on an open flame, and basted with PERi-PERi sauce. The chain's first Chicago location is in the West Loop, and it's also opening two more in Lakeview and Lincoln Park! If you haven't been yet, be sure to check it out!

Nando's PERi-PERi
Nando's PERi-PERi
Barcocina

There's a new Mexican-inspired spot in Lakeview which was much-needed for the area if you ask me. Barcocina is in the old Sopranos space and looks completely different. I love the bright and open dining room and they make some pretty interesting cocktails. One menu standout is definitely the lobster guacamole though, because lobster.

Barcocina
Lobster Guacamole at Barcocina
The Dec ROOFTOP LOUNGE + BAR

Now that the weather is (maybe?) warming up in Chicago, there's no place I'd rather be than outside on a rooftop. I checked out The Dec ROOFTOP LOUNGE + BAR atop the Ritz-Carlton Chicago and loved the view. It's on the 12th floor of the hotel so it's nestled between other highrises off the Mag Mile, and directly next to the John Hancock Center. It's a great spot for post-work drinks or bites considering they have a great food menu! I loved the ceviche and schnitzel strips with sriracha aioli, and they also do great meat and cheese boards and fresh seafood!

The dec ROOFTOP LOUNGE + BAR
Ceviche
The dec ROOFTOP LOUNGE + BAR
Schnitzel Strips
The dec ROOFTOP LOUNGE + BAR
Cocktails on The dec

You probably already know River North's Godfrey Hotel has an awesome rooftop bar and restaurant, but now there's a fantastic Italian restaurant located just off the lobby. Dolce Italian is the second location (the first is in Miami) from LDV Hospitality. The restaurant features a pretty large Italian menu but some of my favorites are the dolce meatballs with polenta and parmigiano and margherita pizza! Their cocktails are great too!

Dolce Italian
Cocktails at Dolce Italian
Dolce Italian
Dolce Meatballs with Polenta & Parmigiano
Dolce Italian
Dolce Italian Dining Room
Whisk

It can sometimes be a challenge deciding where to go for weekend brunch. There are a million options that makes paring it down to one so difficult. I checked out Whisk in Ukrainian Village for Saturday brunch al fresco. The menu seems to feature dishes you might find at The Bongo Room or Wishbone, but I did appreciate the variety of both sweet and savory options. The restaurant features some Ron Swanson art--I didn't get the association but maybe that's just me! We tried the pulled pork benedict with chipotle hollandaise and queso fresco, and the Reese's pancakes with banana, Reese's peanut butter cups, white chocolate sauce and mocha mascarpone. You can probably guess which one was my favorite! Talk about food porn...

Whisk
Whisk
Whisk
Pulled Pork Benedict
Whisk
Reese's Pancakes


A few weeks ago it was food trade show overload for me. Each year the National Restaurant Show (NRA) and the Sweets & Snacks Expo overlap resulting in me eating A LOT.  Fortunately, both shows are awesome and I love scouting new food, packaging, and flavor trends for my day job as a food industry analyst, and as a food blogger. Some highlights from the NRA show were the automatic donut machine (I think I should star a Kickstarter fund so I can have one of these in my home), and a frozen yogurt vending machine from TCBY (I'd also like one of these in my home please).

National Restaurant Show
Automatic Donut Maker
National Restaurant Show
TCBY Frozen Yogurt Vending Machine
Another highlight was getting a hands-on experience learning how to make dumplings with Chef Mike Sheerin. Chef Sheerin demonstrated how to prepare elote dumplings to preview his soon-to-open Hyde Park dumpling restaurant PACKED. If the dumplings we had at the show are half as good as what we can expect at PACKED, it's sure to be a hit.

National Restaurant Show
Learning How To Make Dumplings with Chef Mike Sheerin
Packed Dumplings
Elote Dumpling
The NRA show also featured endless rows of food, both sweet and savory, as well as 3D printed objects including sugar skulls!

Sweets at the NRA Show
Sweets at the NRA Show
NRA Show
3D Printed Sugar Skull
Speaking of sugar, the Sweets & Snacks Expo put me on a total sugar high. I loved the candy fashions put together by local candy shop Candyality, especially this dress made out of Albanese gummy bears!

Sweets & Snacks Expo
Albanese Gummy Bear Dress
I also loved these giant gummy bears dubbed "Papa Bears"!

Sweets & Snacks Expo
Giant Albanese Gummy Bears
Greenstar Brewing

Have you ever eaten at Uncommon Ground? Did you know they have a brewery now? Greenstar Brewing is the first certified organic brewery in the state of Illinois. I highly recommend stopping by Uncommon Ground to check out their beers, especially their double IPA!

Greenstar Brewing
Greenstar Brewing

Another local business I recently checked out was Farmer's Fridge. Have you tried it or seen it before? Farmer's Fridge has several kiosks located throughout Chicago stocked with healthy salads and snacks. All food is prepared fresh each day and unsold food is donated to local food pantries. I checked it out for lunch last week and was totally impressed. I had an extremely fresh shaved veggie and kale salad with golden beets, radish, apple, quinoa, raisins and hemp seeds with a maple-sherry vinaigrette. I also added a side of grilled chicken for an extra protein boost. Fast, easy and healthy? Sign me up. 

Farmer's Fridge
Farmer's Fridge


Last, but not least, I checked out a new restaurant in Bucktown called AMK Kitchen Bar. The American restaurant has a modern diner feel with a variety of snacks and small plates, pizzas, and main plates. There's also an extensive whiskey offering. I enjoyed the Basil 46, a cocktail with Maker's 46, peach liqueur, lemon and basil. The food standouts were the Boursin cheese and potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce, as well as buttermilk fried chicken with a chili and roasted garlic honey. AMK officially opened this past Wednesday and will begin serving brunch this weekend!

AMK Kitchen Bar
Cocktails at AMK Kitchen Bar
AMK Kitchen Bar
AMK Kitchen Bar
AMK Kitchen Bar
Boursin Cheese and Potato Gnocchi
AMK Kitchen Bar
Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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