On the Road Eats: Chicago

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Shame on me.  I relied on the concierge to recommend a restaurant.  My colleague and I were on different schedules so dinner was a “whenever” type of event.  The company was good, but dinner……what a shame.  Lunches – fantastic…..and yes, I spent some time picking those spots.

River Roast
Loved this spot.  We ate outside, had a view of the river and the weather was in the 70’s(yes..in November!)  Our appetizer –  the shrimp and crab toast with avocado and then for my meal, I ordered the local beet salad with ricotta and added steak. WOW..fantastic lunch and a new salad idea that I may be able to make at home!

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Star of Siam
Nope- definitely not a star. For me or my colleague. And yes, pictures can be deceiving.  The dumplings were good, fine, ok but our main dishes- nope, not good. I always order either Pad Thai or Pad See Ew and opted for the latter on this night.  Convenient to walk from our hotel but convenience doesn’t outweigh a bad meal.  I should have walked the extra block to Eataly. Sorry Star of Siam- I won’t be back.

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Siena Tavern
IMG_4848YES!!!  I chose right and can say we had a second fabulous meal in Chicago!!  I had wanted to go for dinner(instead of Star of Siam) but they had no availability and I did not have a reservation.  It was lunch and I wanted something to keep me full for my flight home but not something too overwhelming since I had one more meeting.  I ordered the Butternut Squash Tortellacci and it was the perfect lunch.  I will definitely be back to this spot.

I have another trip to Chicago early next year- any suggestions??

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On the Road Eats: Dallas to San Antonio Road Trip and Vacation

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Towards the end of the summer, we always have one week between the end of camp and the beginning of school.  And there are two options:  I take time off work and stay home with my daughter and plan some fun activities OR we leave town and have a short family vacation.  My vote:  family trip so we headed to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort for 5 days.

Czech Stop
imageNo drive from Dallas to Austin/San Antonio would be complete without a stop in West for kolaches. I have my one cup of coffee before we leave the house and wait patiently to arrive in West. And I splurge, just a little bit.  I order two sausage kolaches and one sausage and cheese kolache.  When I moved to Texas, I could not even pronounce the word and the only place I ever have them is when I drive from Dallas south on 35.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
We arrived early afternoon and did a mobile check in while en route.  The resort is north of the city and an easy drive from Dallas as long as you miss traffic.  There is always the option of stopping at the San Marcos outlets if you need to kill time heading to or from San Antonio but my husband said no – we are headed right to the pool.  It was packed when we arrived but keep in mind, it was the last week before school started.  Over the next few days, it cleared out and we had a great time relaxing in the lazy river, riding the slides, and spending time as a family.  They also have special kid activities(some free, others paid) that are super fun.  We did the painting activity(paid) and each took home a piece of art!

Cibolo Moon
Open for all three meals and offering buffets, we came here for three meals.  Two breakfasts and one dinner.  Dinner started with wonderful biscuits and homemade jelly, then we tried the chili and of course, shrimp and grits!  Super delicious.  Breakfast was also good but I recommend you use OpenTable to reserve a time.  It can get pretty busy!

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Crooked Branch
We were with a group of people so everyone had dinner at the sports bar but me.  I wanted to see what the options were at the lobby bar and all the moms were going to get together for a drink that night.  Flatbreads, grilled cheese, tacos…standard small plates.  
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18 Oaks
Our server was amazing for dinner so we came back for breakfast the next day.  At dinner we ordered a couple appetizers and shared a steak.  With the steak came a knife presentation.  They start the meal with homemade jerky, then my husband had the french onion soup and I had the Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Ricotta salad.  Dinner was a bone-in ribeye, creamed spinach and duck fat fries. My daughter ordered the caesar salad and loved it.

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For breakfast we had Cinnamon Sugar French Toast and Blueberry Pancakes.  Delicious.

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High Velocity
imageThe kids loved this spot.  Not because of the food but because of the tv’s.  Typical bar food, tried some nachos.  My husband had a sandwich.  It’s an easy spot to hit on the way back from the pool if the kids are hungry and you don’t want a full “dinner experience”.  And no reservations, so keep an eye on when they start getting full during busier times.

Megg’s Cafe
Last time we drove from Austin to Dallas, we stopped in Temple and ate at Wes’s Burger Shack.  This time I wanted to try something new and found Megg’s.  The menu was great – appetizers options that made it hard to choose, a variety of sandwiches and per my daughter, the best caesar salad EVER.  We started with the deviled eggs and wished we had ordered more.  We also had the brussel sprouts and they were fantastic.  The pork torta was ordered by both me and my husband and even though I cannot say it was fabulous, it was good!!  The breakfast menu looked great and they have a bakery by the front which is where we stopped to bring home some goodies for breakfast in the morning!

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On the Road Eats: Chicago

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New Restaurants, a new hotel and a dinner with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen in over 20 years!  Throw in some successful client visits and you have a great trip.

Acanto
imageI had business a few blocks from Acanto and decided good Italian was on the menu for me.  I wanted something simple but with great flavor.  Cacio e Pepe Risotto, the special of the day. Cheese, Pepper, no frills but is the perfect combination.  It would fill me up but would not be too heavy.  A simple, classic dish.  I had a table with a view of the restaurant so I was able to people watch and see the outdoor activity. Dinner menu looked fantastic….will need to remember this spot for another trip!

Cherry Circle Room
I met a dear friend from boarding school that I have not seen in over twenty years.  It was a wonderful reunion and I was happy to reconnect with her after all this time.  She chose the restaurant and what a great pick she made.  We started with drinks(mine was the Old Cuban), and then shared a beet salad with goat cheese.  I will admit I am not usually a fan of goat cheese but this was absolutely delicious, in fact, I would order it again since I enjoyed it so much.  For dinner we each ordered a main dish, I had the halibut with the squid ink pasta, added a side of creamed kale and of course we had to finish our meal with an “adult” milkshake.  I cannot wait to continue to “eat” this city with her!

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Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
imageI have known about this spot for a while but never stopped in for lunch.  Since my hotel was so close it was the most convenient place for me to grab a quick bite – eat at the hotel and get some work done before my next meeting.  It probably took me ten minutes to make a decision because of all the great options.  I finally chose the Sinfully Healthy sandwich-  roasted local turkey, Fromager D’Affinois, mango chutney, whole grain Dijon mustard and field greens on cracked wheat.  What a perfect sandwich!  I enjoyed it so much I have been buying the cheese with a fig preserve to eat on crackers at home.  As a side I picked up the bacon potato salad which I thought I would love but it was just not my thing.  Good thing there are numerous other sandwiches I want to try so I can return again soon!

Renaissance Chicago
 Love when I have a great experience at a full service hotel.  The doormen were great, the concierge was fantastic, the front desk was awesome and I had access to the lounge for a quick breakfast.  I had an upgraded room and even had a view.  Hope this hotel is available at a decent price the next time I am in town!!

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On the Road Eats: San Antonio

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I attended a conference in San Antonio last week so I asked Chowhound where to eat. The two top spots on my list were Cured and Bliss and chowhounds agreed with my choices.  I also found a spot near my hotel for breakfast and recommend it for those staying near the convention center.

Cured
I have been to the Pearl during prior visits to San Antonio but it has been a while.  It’s a great area with a bunch of restaurants and shops about a 5 minute cab ride from the convention center area.  I knew I wanted to try Cured.  I see friends post on Facebook, I see reviews on various food websites, and the menu looked great.  We started with pork cheeks poutine(AWESOME! – nothing better than fries, gravy, cheese and swine), then the charcuterie board with mortadella, pork belly and pickled vegetables,  the beet salad and the white asparagus salad, the wagyu beef tartare and then finished with the beer can mussels.  It was a laid back atmosphere, we had great service and for those that live there, they have a brunch menu that is extremely tempting.

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Bliss
Earlier this year I asked a client to send me recommendations for dining in San Antonio. The list included Feast, Hot Joy, and B&D Ice House.  But she added Bliss to the list – recommended by a gentleman we work with who is a big foodie.  With his endorsement, I knew I had to get a reservation for my trip.  I started with japanese hamachi sashimi tostadas, then the George’s Bank sea scallops over pepperjack-white cheddar Anson Mills grits for my entrée.  It was fantastic.  Others tried the duck and the tenderloin and said they were fabulous too.  Of course we had dessert-  my choice being the pot de creme and a decaf cappuccino.  Next time you are planning to be in San Antonio, get a reservation at Bliss.

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Schilo’s
I need breakfast when I am on the road. I never know if an appointment will run over and cause me to miss lunch. And it is a good thing I made the quick 5 minute walk over to Schilo’s because I was on the trade show floor and never had lunch.  I asked the server what they are known for and of course she said the potato pancakes and homemade applesauce.  So I ordered coffee, eggs, bacon and the potato pancakes…..if you are staying near the convention center and want a non-hotel breakfast, stop by!
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