I recently changed jobs so unfortunately I will not be visiting clients in Chicago every other month like before. The positive side…I will be heading to some new cities for other events and team meetings. So for my last trip (for a while) to Chicago, I grabbed lunch in River North(repeat visit to a great spot), had dinner with a college friend at a great Italian spot, had a solo breakfast to get me through my day and grabbed a quick bite at the restaurant in my hotel before running to O’Hare.
Siena Tavern Love this spot. The food is great, the service is great and it is so convenient in River North. After my last visit for lunch I knew I wanted to come back and I was taking a client to lunch. We started with an appetizer of octopus..and it was delicious. She opted for a salad, my other colleague did too. I lived on the edge…..”Carbonara in a Jar”. Yup, the super rich, super heavy loved by me pasta dish. They present it in a jar with the egg, shake it up and serve it table side. I eat it on the rare occasion (well, maybe more) and after making it halfway through, I called it a day with a big smile on my face.
Davanti Enoteca – Taylor Street
Time for some time with my college girlfriend and some good food. She suggested a spot in Little Italy, or close by. Lots of plates to share and great conversation. We started with the mascarpone polenta + ragù of the day(today was a slow braised pork) and it was fantastic. We then moved onto the prosciutto–veal meatballs and the brussel sprouts. If only I could eat like this every day!
Yolk I had a full day ahead of me and wasn’t sure if I would have time to grab lunch. So I walked from the Blackstone Renaissance (love this hotel) to Yolk. I needed something to keep me going for the next 8 hours and ordered Challah french toast with berries to start the day and a cup of coffee. Add the chill in the air and my day in Chicago was starting just right!
The Blackstone Renaissance has a great restaurant on the first floor. I have dined at Mercat once before and with limited time to eat and catch a flight, it was the perfect option. With a successful seminar behind me, I started with a Mojito, and then shared two small plates with a colleague. Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp) and Costillas de Ternera – a flatbread with Beef Shortribs, Horseradish, Parmesan and Bacon Marmalade. We ate and rushed back to O’Hare after two great dishes. How I love this city!!!
So I just landed in Chicago – my second flight for the day. I’m tired(up at 4am to catch my first flight since I had to fly to Minneapolis for meetings before traveling here), I’m cold(temps are 25 degrees colder than Dallas) and of course, I’m hungry(nothing new there). I love the concierge at the Renaissance Chicago because he always has great recommendations for me(Thanks Thomas!)
BottleFork: The menu looked very interesting. And Thomas told me since I was dining alone I could probably sit at the “chef’s seat” at the end of the bar. Then he mentioned a favorite of his – a lobster roll with foie gras and fried oysters. I’m interested and make a reservation through OpenTable. I walk a few blocks to River North(the brisk air is waking me up) and he was right- I am seated at the bar to watch the chefs. There was a lot to choose from so I decide on the lobster roll and the creamed kale(I also had a great server who helped me pick!). And then something strange happened. I didn’t love my lobster roll. Could it be after a 15 hour day my taste buds were giving up? It was almost too rich for me….but I really enjoyed the creamed kale with a sunny side up egg(a much more mild dish). I hope this was a total random event because I really want to come back and try a few more dishes on their menu(and probably the lobster roll again)!
Firecakes Donuts: I wanted something simple for dessert and wanted to eat it back at the hotel(at this point I am exhausted). I leave BottleFork and around the corner is a little donut shop. I see about 5 people standing in the small entry way and a few leaving. I look in the window and decide I must go inside. I buy three donuts(one for my colleague coming in on a much later flight- nice treat when she checks in!) and two for me to try. I order a sufganiyah(jelly donut) and a honey glazed….may want to save the second one for breakfast but not sure I can wait that long to eat it. I head back to the hotel, check out the view of the river(thank you for the upgrade Renaissance), enjoy my last sweet of the evening and call my husband to say goodnight with a smile on my face.
Piccolo Sogno Due: Best salad I have eaten all year. And I have eaten at a lot of restaurants, especially in Chicago. I was with a colleague and we started with the butternut squash soup(nice that they split it for us). Then we each had a salad- I ordered the kale salad and it was one of my favorite meals of the year. The roasted squash and the fennel and the dressing- WOW, I could eat this every week! Note to self: try to recreate at home. For entrees, they offer their pasta dishes in half or full size so it was time for me to get my favorite- black spaghetti with tons of shellfish. And it was delicious. I cannot believe I waited this long to come here. I will be back !