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KateBChi's Profile

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One very nice (but not bank-breaking) dinner in October

I am definitely NOT a fan of North Pond. I've eaten there at least a dozen times over many years because other people want to go for the scenic location. If I could always sit at a table by the fire it might have more appeal for me. But even when specifically requested, those seats are seldom available. I can rarely remember what I ate the next day because it was serviceable but boring.
Bavettes, on the other hand is what a steak orientated restaurant should be and the food is never boring whether you order steak or not and the "not steak" options are what I order almost every time.
I like GT Oyster quite a bit but it doesn't feel like a special occasion type place to me. I like it more for appetizers and a cocktail. Same with Sable. It's good but some of their offerings are getting a bit long in the tooth for me and that area of the city is on the border of what I think of as crazyville at night due to the crowds. If you haven't been than the fatigue factor with the menu shouldn't be an issue.
Since you have to go to Tavern on Rush and don't mind that area on a Saturday night you might consider a place across the street for dinner for very good Italian seafood, particularly fish. Nico Osteria is in the Thompson Hotel. The menu is a bit uneven and the portioning of items very inconsistent. One appetizer may suffice to serve four while another barely serves one but the food, at least on my visits, has been very good.
If you are willing to head towards the Lincoln Park area then I would echo the suggestion of others that Boka is a really solid choice. I wasn't wowed ( but interested enough to keep going back) by my first couple visits when they first opened but I am a solid fan now. It is a special occasion place but I've never gone for a special occasion. I just really like the food and ambiance. The chef does amazing and interesting things with vegetables, something a lot of places ignore. The meat and seafood dishes are pretty much across the board excellent. My only very slight gripe is the size of the menu. It is small but there is always something great on it. If it helps it is about a $10 to $14 cab ride from the Tavern on Rush

Sep 14, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Visiting the weekend of September 19, 2014

I also would recommend Big and Littles for lunch or a late afternoon snack but not dinner. It is not really geared to a leisurely dinner. In the front room on Orleans the seating is picnic tables and a couples stools along a wall. In the expanded back there are booths but there are no waiters or waitresses. You order your food and pay at the counter.

Where Bistro 110 used to be is Tony Mantuano's Bar Toma. It's casual Italian and Neopolitan pizza. They have a tendency to rush the pizzas out of the oven too quickly for my taste (I don't mind a wet center but I want the cheese melted) but if you ask the waiter to make sure it is cooked longer than normal the pizza is very good. They also have always complied when I have asked for extra toppings. For example I am partial to the four cheese but only with their Calabrian peppers added. Their arancini are also always a good bet. Near your hotel, about a block east is the Restaurant Pellago. It is a sophisticated Italian restaurant that makes some of the best house made pastas in town. They specialize in seafood but I usually concentrate on their pasta. The gargagnelli with chicken hen Ragu is awesome. We ate their last night and I did order their whole roasted red snapper. It was amazing. They presented it to the table whole then returned it skinned and filleted along with roasted onions and red peppers plus some side vegetables that didn't interest me too much.

I'm a huge fan of The Purple Pig but I was there for dinner only once (because of the long waits and no reservations policy) and that occasion was prompted by the fact that were permitted to make a reservation because my friend had brought a dinner for six at a charity auction. I usually eat at TPP between 1:30 and 4:30 when tables are readily available. That's the only time I will eat there because my SO just has the patience of a gnat and I'm not much better

Sep 04, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

The Wedding Won't Go On Without Your Help!!!! [Tucson]

The place is closed.

Aug 22, 2014
KateBChi in Southwest
1

New iPad issue

I get Pearl's Peril as well. It doesn't happen on any other web site!

Jul 28, 2014
KateBChi in Site Talk
1

New iPad issue

Same thing happening to me and it also started today. Very irritating

Jul 28, 2014
KateBChi in Site Talk
1

Gazpacho question

Many on line recipes are geared to making dishes when produce is not necessarily at its peak. This time of year if your tomatoes are ripe and juicy enough you shouldn't need extra tomato juice. You can juice extra tomatoes instead of buying tomato juice. It's only there to make the finished soup, well, soupier. I like to marinate chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, onion and garlic with vinegar of your choice plus olive oil and lemon juice as well as spices(Aleppo pepper flakes, fresh thyme leaves etc) overnight then mix in a blender the next day along with some ground almonds and pieces of day old bread. Add juice as needed to reach the right consistency.

Jul 28, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Advance Planning -- returning to the City of my Birth

Girl and the Goat is fun, casual and boisterous. Some of the dishes are interesting and really addicting others not so much. I prefer Bavettes to David Burke's and had to actually be talked into going there but it is a really great place for steaks and a lot of updated steakhouse classics plus their own modern touches that still feel interesting.
Haven't been to North Pond for brunch ever or Blackbird for lunch lately but I rarely go more than a few weeks without a stop at The Purple Pig (off hours only to be sure of no waits). The current menu has several of my favorites dishes off the menu but there are plenty of offerings that should satisfy most tastes.
Schwa offers some amazing food but it can be seriously idiosyncratic and cancellations have been a problem but it is a unique Chicago experience (loud music, air conditioners that drip condensation on you etc etc). Plan an alternative reservation for relatively nearby at either Balena or Boka. I've had three dinners at Boka. The first two a hit and an almost miss but the third visit was just great. Balena has great house made pasta and pizza but it's bar service has been a problem (slow even on a slow night like 20 to 25 minutes to get a cocktail slow so be forewarned ).
Brindille and Naha offer similar food. Very high quality ingredients cooked expertly at a very high price, particularly at Brindille. Not always inspired but technically pretty flawless and always very good.
Aviary is a you-gotta-do-it once kinda place. Way over the top but fun in a "isn't this silly and amazing and decadent" sort of way. The potato croquettes are pretty amazing as well.
Not mentioned much on these boards and an oldie but defiantly worthy of respect kind of place is "MK the restaurant". I hadn't been there for several years but have had two recent meals there that were really delicious. I loved literally everything we ordered both times and I barely managed a taste of my SO's food as he was being pretty territorial about my poaching from his plate. The also serve an amazing aged bourbon Manhattan cocktail that my SO wants me to replicate despite the fact that they barrel age the bourbon and vermouth for something like two months. Needless to say he's dreaming but it costs a walloping $17 per glass so it is a bit like Aviary in that regard. Naha, Brindille and MK are in the same price range so... Pick your poison.
As far as reservations go Naha, Brindille ,MK,, boka and Balena are readily available even at the last minute except on weekends. Girl and The Goat has to be reserved quite early but walking in at early hours are usually accommodated during the work week. Aviary takes walk ins and Purple Pig is no reservations.

Jul 23, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Gene and Georgetti vs Erie Cafe for steak

I've been there but the last time was about seven years ago. Friends raised in Chicago wanted to revisit a place they rembered as a great steak experience from their years living in the city. I went, very reluctantly, as my memories of eating there were not great. My memories were correct and none of us enjoyed our meal. I find it to be just awful both service and food. Back in the day (early mid 1980's) my boss used to treat us to a nice dinner after a late night working. His choices were usually Sage's restaurant which was within falling down drunk walking distance from his condo, something in Greek-town or the dreaded G & G. It became the dreaded G & G from multiple experiences over several years. My last experience was actually worse than I remembered.
If you crave a serious carnivore experience I concur with several other posters go to Bavettes it's even better than it sounds.

Jul 22, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? July 2014 edition! [OLD]

I've been cooking from "The Splendid Table" for many many years. Now I primarily use it for her brodo, sugo de carne and variations on various ragus. Several of which I really enjoy. I make the brodo recipe at least twice per year and use it as is for pasta in broth and slightly diluted for soups, sauces and other uses. The sugo de carne gets made in a double batch once per year - it is like a secret weapon of deliciousness. I like her ideas for stuffed pastas and have made some over the years but they get modified by whim and personal taste. For example her zucca stuffed pasta always gets crushed amaretto cookies thrown in.
I like the simplicity of her recipe for "Erminas pan crisped chicken" and the lemon sauce for the lemon chicken as well as her oven roasted potatoes. I've been making the recipes above since her book came out.

Jul 21, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Advice and Thanks

Frontera and Topolobambo take day of reservations and it maybe worth calling to see if earlier times are available. Deep dish pizza is an acquired taste that I have never acquired in 35 years living in the city but my SO likes it so we occasionally order it. He likes Gino's East a lot (I don't ) but Malnatis is tolerable to me as is Pizanos. I have never had anything but delivery from Malnatis and take out from Pizanos so can't comment on ambiance. UNOs and due's are located in an area of Chicago that I avoid at most costs at night. Serious crowds, long waits and a Times Square like street and sidewalk traffic that shocks a long time near north resident like me. If you are interested in thin crust pizza there are some great places with great ambiance in less congested places. Places that are not like Rush Street in the 1980s or 1990's (when the Bulls were winning championships) on steroids. I really like the pizza at Balena which is also a great full service restaurant that is primarily Italian influenced. Caveat the bar service can be agonizingly slow but the pizza and pasta make up for that for the most part. I also like Bar Toma but you have to specify that they really cook the pizza longer than usual, sometimes they take it out too early and the crust is too soft and the toppings not melted. The ingredients they use are great but the pizza makers are sometimes too quick too pull it but the waiters seem to know what you mean and that generally fixes the problem. I also like Coal Fire and Spacca Napoli. Spacca is nice especially for outdoor dining in the summer.

Jul 12, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Overcooked Chicken Breasts - Help

Dice and make enchiladas with them or chicken tacos. Get some corn tortillas and stuff with chicken, crema (or regular sour cream), cheese of your choice (queso anejo, chihuahua, cotija etc.) and some grilled or raw onions. If making enchiladas top with a tomatillo salsa or another sauce that compliments the adobo marinade and additional cheese. You can also add some boiled new potatoes and coarsely chop them to stuff in the enchiladas.
They won't be perfect but still really tasty.

Jul 10, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? July 2014 edition! [OLD]

I got Michael White's "Classico E Moderno - Essential Italian Cooking" a short while ago. I've made his veal saltimbocca to great success (actually the best version I've ever made)'. His tortellini Bolognese (pork shoulder, sausage, prosciutto, mortadella and Parmesan stuffed) served with "Alla Panna" sauce was absolutely amazing! His recipe for caponata was good but not my favorite version. I loved his spaghetti with crab and sea urchin but used squid ink pasta instead of regular spaghetti. For Thursday I am trying his chicken liver crostini with Marsala braised onions and his beef carpaccio with anchovy and mushrooms (raw white and pickled enoki mushrooms) with Parmesan tuiles. Looking forward to the last two.

Jul 08, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Sauce for grilled veggies on grill pan (not balsamic)

When you aren't feeling like a purist try roasted garlic and anchovy vinaigrette topped with some buttered toasted breadcrumbs or aioli with chopped cornichons or capers. It always hit the spot for me.

Jul 07, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #310 - The Yankee Doodle Dandy 4th of July Edition! [through July 6, 2014]

Potato salad, corn on the cob and watermelon are things I associate with the fourth. This year I am making a roasted potato salad with garlic aioli, roasted red peppers and capers. For corn the Serious Eats version of Elote but cut off the cob for easier eating. Watermelon with feta and mint rounds out my contributions to a BBQ 4th party.

WANTED: pretty, bite-sized, filling, different cold or room temp stuffings for devilled eggs

I agree with biondanonima. Think about meats or proteins that work at cool room temperature or cold. Instead of kimchee and shredded pork maybe kimchee and crispy bacon. Cold ground beef and cold sausage and gravy are not so appealing sounding.
Smoked salmon and chives or dill with cream cheese in the emulsion would be good. I like calabrian peppers and parmesan deviled eggs and anything bacon or prosciutto and cheese would work.

Jun 30, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Best Local Sausage (?)

Of the 3 that I recommended i am only certain that Paulina Market will flash freeze and ship. Their website has a comprehensive list of available products. Publican Quality Meats website doesn't say if they ship but it couldn't hurt to ask via email.

Jun 26, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Best Local Sausage (?)

Paulina Meat market on North Lincoln has a huge variety of sausages, brats and wursts for sale that are locally or in house made. Publican Quality Meats on Fulton Market off Halsted also sells some great house made sausages. I love their merquez and chorizo. Bari Foods on Grand sells a few variations on Italian sausages that are house made and quite good. I use their Barese (no fennel) for lots of meat based pasta sauces. Paulina Market is probably most convenient to Lakeview and has the biggest selection but the other two I mentioned are great, particularly PQM, and are easy to drive to from Lakeview.

Jun 26, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area
1

making fresh pasta with gorgonzola - need help

I think you want some kind of acid in the sauce to balance all of that creaminess and maybe some Parmesan cheese to round out the strength of the bleu cheese. Maybe some reduced white wine or vermouth to which you add cream and butter followed by Gorgonzola and some grated Parmesan. A pinch of nutmeg and a generous grinding of pepper should make this good to go.

Jun 04, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Who should pay for the dinner in this scenario

"my expectations and interpretations were probably misappropriated"
"Misappropriated" not "misunderstood"? No one took the OP's ideas, expectations or interpretations and converted them for their own malevolent purposes. The OP complained about getting "stuck" paying for dinner with his wife on her birthday at a place of her choosing. That this morphed from sharing a frozen yogurt at the OP's home to a casual dinner with two friends doesn't change the equation one iota. The OP is miffed that he didn't get his wife's meal comped by friends because they had the idea, however vague, that they wanted to see his wife on her birthday.
You can dress a toad up but it's still a toad. Nobody misappropriated the toad and converted it to manure. It always was what it was.

So annoyed with dinner guest

It's not fun trying to please people who will never, ever appreciate your efforts. Because you care about about the wife and kids and you know that he is relatively unappeasable go with what pleases-the people you care about. This is someone that you can't control. Don't cook anything that might make the control freak comfortable or made a focus of your efforts. Let the guy fend for himself. If he's hungry after your party what, honestly, do you care

Who should pay for the dinner in this scenario

My condolences to the wife who got "stuck" with a spouse who considers buying his wife dinner on her birthday at a place of her choosing something onerous or foisted upon him.
A suggestion in an email that some frozen yogurt shared with friends on a birthday does not an invitation to dinner make.

Early Planning for November 2014 return to Chicago . . . restaurant questions

I can only comment on 3 of your restaurants. My least favorite and probably the most expensive is Sixteen which I found pretentious, the food laughably hit and miss (albeit gorgeous and well plated) and the service arrogant and dismissive. Last time I went I arrived for the last serving of their summer menu which highlighted vegetables and fruit but it was almost impossible to get our waiter to tell me what, if any proteins were in any of the dishes. Only two of many courses mentioned proteins in their descriptions but I could see there were some proteins in the served dishes. My questions were met with "that's not the focus of this dish" and a recitation of the upbringing of several of the vegetables. Apparently they were very well brought up and educated at the best schools etc. I finally skewered a piece of what appeared to be squid which prompted our waiter to say he'd ask the chef. Seriously!? If the chef put it in the dish it must have at least mattered enough to warrant knowing about it. Anyway a few courses were amazing, delicious and creative but the majority, a clear majority were not. I actually felt sorry for our guests being constrained not to say what they actually were thinking about the meal and service since my SO was hosting and it was cost a little bit under $500 per person with drinks. We did get some great laughs afterwards when my SO wasn't around. "The artichoke went to Choate but couldn't get into Dartmouth, poor dear etc."
Gonzo summarized the situation at The Lobby pretty well. I have been there once since the chef et al left and had a thoroughly delicious meal. Everything on the menu was a reworked/retooled version of what had been on the menu under the very talented Chef Wolen and the reworking was quite successful. The restaurant has built in flaws that make it difficult space to work with. It is located in a cavernous lobby. It is designed not to be intimate and inviting. In short unless the new chef is as talented as chef Wolen or they move the restaurant back to the old Avenues space it is a place you may not want to splurge in just yet.
I'm not a fan of North Pond despite its amazing setting in the park and the fact that it's food is always well prepared. I just don't understand all the love this place gets. It's expensive and the food doesn't wow at all. I can't remember the last meal I had there in any detail. It's a place the makes me ask "why did we come here again?"

May 21, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Something new and elegant to do with crab meat?

I'm a fan of Michel Richard's "crab poppers" from "Happy in the Kitchen". He describes them as a cross between cromesqui (crunchy fried French dumplings) and crab cakes. They are a far amount of work but it is, of necessity, spread over a few days. The recipe is on line I believe.
If those don't appeal I love the combination of pasta with fresh crab, chiles, sea urchin roe and toasted breadcrumbs. I've had several really delicious variations including one at a restaurant in Chicago that pairs the crab, sea urchin and chiles with squid ink pasta. I've only made one recipe of this at home using more crab than specified and less uni (sea urchin). The recipe is from Michael White's "Classico e Moderno" and we loved it although I modified it a bit. It calls for spaghetti but similar pasta would do as well. It's a lovely combination of flavors and despite the uni the crab is clearly the star.

May 20, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

HELP me plan a BBQ/party menu

I realize you requested nothing ethnic, except Italian influenced, but the Mexican grilled corn "elote" is easily Italianized by substituting the Mexican cheese for freshly grated parmesan. Pretty much everybody loves this and it is very easy to make.

May 16, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Chicago Memorial Day Weekend

I always enjoy Frontera for lunch or dinner but their Saturday brunch is probably my least favorite meal they serve. It's always crowded so a lot of some bodies must like the way they do eggs - just not me.

Tavern on Rush is pretty mediocre but if you go across the street you can dine at the super hot and busy Nico Osteria which also serves excellent food. The seafood items are really delicious and fresh and I love their house made pastas. Just about every restaurant in that area has out door seating and I am 95 percent sure that Nico does as well but it's only been open a few months and good weather hasn't abounded here so you might want to call ahead.

May 15, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

What's for Dinner #297 - The Mother's Day Edition [through May 12, 2014]

Lovely meal with one or two hiccups. The Asparagus Soup and particularly the Parmesan Flan were massive hits. The soup ended up so tasty I didn't add cream at the end. I used the flan recipe from epicurious (but NOT their asparagus soup) and it was wonderful. I wasn't thrilled with the only baby artichokes I found but cooked them anyway. Tasted one and threw the rest away. Fortunately I decided to throw in some halved small Yukon potatoes to the roasting pan and cooking in the braising liguid and tomatoes made them really, really good especially when topped with the herbed anchovy oil which I modified significantly. Couldn't find a bone in lamb shoulder roast so went with a bone in leg and reduced cooking time. Lovely lamb but bone in was a bit** to carve. My caponata was too substantial to mix with cous cous so served a plain side of it. Very nice side for the herby, garlicy lamb. Dessert was strawberry rhubarb crumble with whipped cream. Happy sighs all around.

What's for Dinner #297 - The Mother's Day Edition [through May 12, 2014]

Final Menu thanks to help from this board. Asparagus soup with parmesan flan, lamb shoulder roast with artichokes, lemon and anchovy oil, caponata cous cous and strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert. I hope my mom loves it!

Colleague moving to Chicago: gift cert. ideas for a good steak dinner ?

David Burkes is probably the best all over steak house in town and it has the advantage of interesting appetizers and sides as well as alternatives to a big slab of seared beef. I also really like Bavettes because I rarely do want a big slab of meat and if the short rib stroganoff is on the menu I am all over it but it's steaks are mighty fine and they offer lots of other food to satisfy a multiplicity of dining tastes. Both are centrally located within spitting (metaphorically) distance of the loop.
Not a steak house per se but I had an amazing rib eye at Brindille last week that was perfectly done, seasoned, sauce and came with a delicious potato/cheese gallette. The cost gave me a bit of sticker shock because it not something I typically order or crave but is is not out of line with the best steakhoses. My So ordered the even pricier Dover Sole and the portion was not nearly as generous but he won the "Clean Plate Club Award" for ingesting every last drop.
A word of caution about Gene & Georgetti, recommended below. I really dislike this place. The service is awful and the place has all of the ambiance of a 1950's tavern with dark and dank corners.. Because it is a Chicago institution and hold out from expense account dining days it engenders nostalgia for some. I haven't been in at least 5 years and didn't want to go then and except for the steaks thought the food just awful. Appetizers and sides hadn't been revamped since the 1960's and they really really could have used some help. A great big ICK on many levels.

May 08, 2014
KateBChi in Chicago Area

Mother's Day Lamb Shoulder Roast - What Else To Serve?

I appreciate all of the feedback! Normally potatoes would be my choice for a starch but my mom has been avoiding them no matter how I prepare them (except deep fried and mashed). Everyone else loves them but she's 85 and it IS her day so.. While I still like the flavors of caponata it might be wiser to lighten the dish by incorporating caponata flavors into couscous. Never tried it but it sounds like it could be a winner. Anyone tried something similar?
The flan was my starch substitute but I have a gallon of homemade broth in my freezer and that asparagus soup with parmesan flan looks heavenly!
For dessert I think I will stick with fruit, some iteration of strawberry/rhubarb or lemon. I just need to figure out the particulars.
Thanks!

May 06, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking

Mother's Day Lamb Shoulder Roast - What Else To Serve?

Making a new BA recipe of Lamb shoulder roast with roasted baby artichokes and an herbed anchovy oil. Bit of a quandary for starter, sides and dessert. Lamb was unanimous choice as we didn't have it at Easter and whole family likes lamb. The recipe uses liberal amounts of lemon plus the anchovy oil as a sauce. My first thought was to make a counterpoint for the side like a Sicilian Caponata, one that uses sultanas, nuts, garlic, fried eggplant and red peppers. Something with enough flavor so as not to disappear next to lamb artichoke anchovy & lemon but to bring out a little sweetness. Artichoke flavors can be tricky though so thoughts appreciated.
First course is a bit of a problem. I want to do something spring inspired maybe a flan/sformato with asparagus and parmesan but worry it might be too heavy for Mother's Day dinner. A springy soup may be lighter. I don't want to go down the salad route because of the caponata.
No clue on desserts but it must be something light feeling. I did a berries in zabaglione a couple of weeks ago so I don't want to repeat. Strawberry-rhubarb crostata or crumble or.....
Thoughts appreciated.

May 06, 2014
KateBChi in Home Cooking