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Weekend with the GF

I'm not sure where you're staying or whether you lean more toward trendy or more hipster when you say hip, but I can offer a couple of suggestions.

Over by Avec, you could try the Publican or Au Cheval (good for food and beer selection), Nellcote (behind it is RM Champagne Salon where you can grab cocktails or wine after, but not sure about the beer list), Girl and the Goat (we had cocktails but remember good beer/wine lists). Further north in the Bucktown area you could try the Bristol. Revolution Brewery is more pub style and is one of the few breweries in the city. These are all the lower key kind of hip.

Closer to the River North / Near North areas you could try one of the Rick Bayless restaurants for Mexican, Slurping Turtle is fun for Ramen, Gilt Bar is trendy with a lot of beer on tap, Sable has great cocktails and food, Purple Pig for Mediterranean style small plates and wine list. That whole area around Hubbard is swarming with restaurants and then bars and clubs for after if that's your thing. Good Italian at Coco Pazzo and Piccolo Sogno but less on the fun / hip vibe.

Certainly not a comprehensive list, but these are places I've been in my early-mid 20s for date nights and had an all around good time.

Feb 16, 2013
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

BEST ICE CREAM IN CHICAGO?

I second Black Dog for gelato! So so so so yummy and lots of unique and different flavors.

Jul 08, 2012
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Where can I buy edible flowers?

Hello, I am having a large garden party next weekend and would like to drop small, pretty edible flowers into the cocktails as a garnish. I am not so particular about what kind of flowers they are, so long as they are whole flowers (so no rose petals), not stinky (I have heard some edible flowers smell like onions?), and not full of pesticides (so I had a hard time buying nasturtiums from the garden shop and growing them myself). I have also seen small packets at Dominick's or Jewel that are quite expensive, and I would need to buy probably 10 packets.

Any thoughts on where in the Chicago area I can buy them in larger quantities? Since it is just a week away, I am really looking for very specific suggestions, like X florist on Y street, or X stand at Y farmers' market. I know I can call around to different florists or do an exhaustive search on my own, but I would rather skip that and tap your expertise :)

Jul 08, 2012
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Tracking down congee at Potts Point farmers market

I moved back from Sydney a year ago and still have this congee on my mind. Every Saturday at the Potts Point farmers market there was an Asian lady selling this among other healthful things - it was savory and made with quinoa, sprouts, and I'm not sure what else. I forgot to ask her for the recipe before I left. Does anyone know who I'm talking about? Would anyone have a tip on either recreating the recipe or tracking the vendor down? I know they were supposed to be coming out with a cookbook this year, so if I could just get her name... Thanks!

Oct 22, 2011
velvetdc1 in Australia/New Zealand

Top 3 healthy dishes in Chicago?

I'm vegetarian and every now and then like to avoid a lot of oil and cheese, but still go out. Here are a few..

1. Macro plate at Heartland Cafe - brown rice, kale, mushroom gravy... so nutritious and cheap

2. Pho on Argyle, if you aren't doing low carb - clear broth with lost of boiled veggies

3. Tacos at El Pueblito - this is a teeny taco place but they are more traditional in that they don't load your tacos with a bunch of cheese and sour cream. You can order veggie ones off the menu or a shrimp one that's on it, and it's delicious and a much healthier taco

Aug 09, 2011
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

what do you prefer that most foodies would scoff at?

Ok I know this thread is really old, but I have a guilty conscience and I want to rescind my statement... my dad just dropped off a bag of NY Bagel & Bialy bagels over to me and I much prefer them. Maybe it had just been too long and I forgot what they tasted like!

Aug 09, 2011
velvetdc1 in General Topics

Traveling to CHI, questions on two specific areas

Woops, sorry - you want to take the 82 up *Kimball* and then head East on Devon on the 155. Yes, that is West of Western Ave.

I love Taste of Peru - it's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall in an unglamorous strip-mall, but you get there and the door is covered in all the articles, awards and recognition they've received. They do a seafood stew in garlic and cilantro broth that my brother adores. It's also BYOB.

Unfortunately there's not much to do in that neck of the woods in between meals. Perhaps you could do Peru for lunch, and on the way back, pick up chaat for your afternoon snack? Make sure to ask them to pack everything dis-assembled... you don't want it getting soggy with the various toppings before you're ready to eat.

If you are going up to that area, by the way, you can pick up paratha sandwiches from Ghareeb Nawaz (a Pakistani place East of Western :)... they are super cheap, I think $3 each, and if you refrigerate or get the veggie ones, you can keep them in your room until you're ready to eat. They're super tasty on the spot or re-heated - great for late night or for some, breakfast :)

Aug 02, 2011
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Traveling to CHI, questions on two specific areas

In Logan Square area, I really like 90 Miles (http://www.90milescubancafe.com/). It's authentic, well-done Cuban food, BYOB. I believe they do brunch? But double check in case. I also adore The Whistler (http://whistlerchicago.com/). It's a bar, but thought I'd mention it. It's small, with a small cocktail list... but very good. The lines get long and it gets rowdier at night, but in the evening it's a great place for an interesting drink. I also really like Lula but that sounds like something you're avoiding. I second Revolution. For something off-beat you could try Red Apple Buffet (http://www.redapplebuffet.com/)... It's an all-you-can-eat Polish buffet. I think it's $10 or $15. I've done it before and had a great time. Certainly humble and a fun thing to try, and according to one Polish friend, pretty spot-on.

Around UIC there is a breakfast place called Hash Browns on Maxwell Street (http://www.hashbrownscafe.com/) that does a bunch of different kinds of hash browns, including sweet potatoes. Something a little different. You're also not far from Chinatown - Lao Szechuan tends to be a favorite there.

There is tons of chaat on the Indian stretch of Devon Avenue in Rogers Park... it could take you an hour by bus from Logan Square, though. It's actually straight up Western Avenue on the 82, then East about a mile. Being Indian, I can tell you that Uru Swati is my favorite, followed by Annapurna.

Aug 02, 2011
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Black truffle salt ideas

Hi all, I was just given a jar of Dean & DeLuca's black truffle salt and wanted ideas on what I can do with it. I spent some time looking at past discussions and they invariable become debates on the merits of different salts, oils, regions, kinds of truffles, etc. I found that interesting but am much interested in recipes, uses, and flavors that work with black truffle salt in particular. Any ideas?

Feb 18, 2011
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Vegetarian soup?

Looks great - thank you! I won't know til I try :)

Jan 20, 2011
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Vegetarian soup?

do either of you have a link to a particularly good recipe? i can't believe i never thought to just make it - i've been vegetarian for 15 years and only regret it when i see french onion on the menu!

Jan 20, 2011
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Vegetarian soup?

My all-time favorite is a tuscan soup with white beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions. I stir in kale at the end and serve it over garlic toasts topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Yum!!

Jan 20, 2011
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Have You Ever Written a Cookbook for Your Family and, Maybe, for Friends?

I think using a service like shutterfly, that does the hard-bound photo books (not sure if they'll do print, but I'm sure there's a similar service for books) would be really cool - like your own published recipe book! That way you could include snaps of how the dishes look in an artful way that would make a really beautiful gift. Through shutterfly you could actually scan in the recipe cards as photo files and arrange them that way - i've done that to insert poems, etc. into mine.

When I was in second grade, I wrote a cookbook for my mother. I interviewed family and friends for a dessert recipe each. It is in tatters now and was very poor quality binding - it was typed on probably the first computer my family owned, and with one staple - but it still has the best chocolate chip recipe! However it is bound, I'm sure it will be treasured.

Jan 20, 2011
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

The Mirage: Recent Casual Dining Notes

I wanted to quickly add my two cents on Carnegie Deli at Mirage: Best Grilled Cheese Ever. Cheddar on whole wheat with onions... so melty, so crisp, so delicious. It was great at 5 AM and great again at lunch the next day.

Jan 19, 2011
velvetdc1 in Las Vegas

Vegetarian in Vegas

I wanted to follow up and let you know that Sage was absolutely great! We had some really interesting, food that was made with very fresh ingredients. Lots of interesting flavors. There were 2 salads, a starter and 2 mains that were vegetarian or could be made vegetarian without changing much of the dish, all quite creative. Our coctails were interesting too. The interior was very classy. Thanks for the recommendation - thoroughly enjoyable!

Jan 19, 2011
velvetdc1 in Las Vegas

Vegetarian in Vegas

We are from Chicago and love Green Zebra. This looks like a great option! Thanks everyone!

Jan 05, 2011
velvetdc1 in Las Vegas

Vegetarian in Vegas

Hi, I wanted to see what you thought of the restaurants you ended up trying? I'll be there in about 3 weeks and also looking for good vegetarian food! Thanks!

Dec 26, 2010
velvetdc1 in Las Vegas

Creative infusions?

Thanks :) Some interesting suggestions! I should have thought of saffron / cardamom... but the herbs mentioned also look worth a try!

Dec 26, 2010
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Creative infusions?

Hello all, I'm sitting here out of herbal tea, my nightly ritual in the winter. I'm wondering if anyone has ideas for infusions I can make in hot water using things I may already have in the fridge or spice cabinet that will give me that feeling of a hot herbal concoction. I'm not in the mood for something milk-based or dense like hot chocolate, and all I can think of is lemon and water! I'll go with that for tonight but thought I'd ask for future reference!

Dec 16, 2010
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

Burt's Place in Morton Grove

We finally made it to Burt's yesterday and can safely say it is our new favorite pizza. We called about 3pm and Burt said the pizza would be on the table at 4:30, but to come 10 minutes early for drinks. Sure enough, we walked in at 4:18 and Jeff, the waiter, held up a sign to motion "halt." He came over to seat us at 4:20 and we ordered a couple of Hofbraus. By 4:30, pizza was on the table being sliced and served. Each slice was a gooey, cheesy avalanche of fresh ingredients. At the first bite we both said "wow". The caramelized crust gave the pizza a really unique, rustic flavor. The fresh spinach layered on top was nice and crispy at the edges. Generous toppings made each bite rich and full. By the end of two slices we were entering food coma.

I have been a lifelong proponent of Lou Malnati's. My dining companion has been a lifelong Giordano's man - probably the biggest difference in opinion of our relationship. We came to an agreement over Burt's yesterday on our #1 pizza... though I'll continue arguing for #2.

I can understand that first-timers without instruction would have been put off by the way the restaurant works. But there is a method to their madness, if you know how it goes - you get in, you eat your pizza, and you're out. Frankly after refining his pizza for 40 years, if I were Burt I wouldn't feel the need to impress newcomers either. The service was mostly utilitarian and left the focus on the pizza, though Jeff did ask us related questions like where we heard about them, how we liked it, and when we'll be back. We liked the pizza, and we liked Jeff, so that was a good thing.

We found the atmosphere in the restaurant to be a big part of why we enjoyed the experience. The kitsch invites conversation - we even got into a chat stemming from the Charlie Chaplin poster in the bathroom on our drive home. The quirkiness is endearing, and eating there, we felt like we were participating in a time-honored north side tradition.

Incidentally, our two slices of leftovers reheated beautifully but disappeared twice as fast as we remembered eating in the restaurant. I wish I had another slice right now. Our only regret is we weren't able to chat to Burt like others have - but we'll be back, this time with our friends!

Dec 12, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Weekend in Nashville - budget, authentic, and vegetarian - can it be done?

Thanks so much for all the suggestions and being so friendly! I am heartbroken as we have had to cancel the trip. I really look forward to getting to try all these places soon and I'll have already done the legwork by then :)

Dec 07, 2010
velvetdc1 in Kentucky & Tennessee

help finding good ethnic restaurants in the North Shore

Agree (but I already said that)!

Also, I just checked out Shabu House in Niles, which may be a bit further west than your boundaries but is good value, for large quantities of veggies & meat with 3 dipping sauces and 3 choices of broth. Plus bottomless tea.

I also liked Akai Hana in Wilmette for the Bento boxes - I havent been in probably 4 years but I remember them making a yummy and filling dinner.

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Shabu House
8257 W Golf Rd, Niles, IL 60714

Dec 04, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Finger foods with drinks

I just had a cocktail party and did all the preparation the day before for most of the items. I did have to spend a couple of minutes assembling beforehand, but it was worth it to avoid the cheese wedges :) Here are some ideas:

- White bean bruschetta - blend white beans with some garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper; serve on sliced bread over boursin herb cheese and under a sprinkling of chopped tomato/basil
- 3 dips with pita/bread/crackers/anything else - here you can do anything, really, and it looks great. Some ideas are: feta/jarred roasted red peppers/garlic/oil, olive tapenade, dijon spread with dijon/mayo/parmesan
- Pretty up the cheese wedge idea by serving brie and cheddar on a plate with water crackers and assemble a few "suggested pairings" like brie & slices of straberry, cheddar & slices of apple, garnish with some walnuts or dried fruit
- Home-made cheese sticks - these can be served at room temp and go great with drinks

Nov 30, 2010
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking

help finding good ethnic restaurants in the North Shore

Pita Inn! A north shore institution for Middle-Eastern with locations in Skokie (Dempster) and Wheeling.

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Pita Inn
3910 Dempster St, Skokie, IL 60076

Nov 30, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

what do you prefer that most foodies would scoff at?

I prefer Dunkin Donuts bagels to New York Bagel & Bialy here in Chicago. I always get what people think is the over the top combo of garlic bagel and chive cream cheese. I just like how much garlic they put on there. I am literally afraid to say this to anyone who grew up with me on the North Shore :)

Nov 30, 2010
velvetdc1 in General Topics

In Chicago for 2 nights

Lou Malnatis is my most favorite pizza :) but didn't think of a very close location offhand and didn't want to get into a pizza debate so offered a few options. Here is a good discussion if you want more info on where to try some pizza:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31925...

Nov 30, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

In Chicago for 2 nights

Since you're staying right across the street, you could at least have a drink at the Signature Room at the top of the Hancock. Beautiful view of the whole city at night. They also serve dinner up there, which I haven't had yet - but heard good enough things to send my friends. I also second Spiaggia for Italian, especially for proximity to your hotel. NoMi too. Graham Elliot would be more of a walk, but doable and probably a good example of the "scene". Tru is another often recommended one in the area, on the higher end with a great tasting menu.

I'll also throw in a shout-out for some Chicago pizza. After I've been away too long, even if expense isn't an issue, it's all I want. Uno, Gino's, and Giordano's are all walkable from your hotel.

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Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

Nov 29, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Recommendations for group dinner with colleagues at $100 per person?

Better late than never on this debrief, but we did end up at the Publican. It was really a great place for the group to relax - I think the focus on beer instead of wine helps colleagues feel less uptight around each other. And everyone enjoyed sharing plates. The staff was very knowledgeable about the beers and I never looked at the list. My "vegetable plate" (which is my fate at a lot of these places) was a little more interesting than I anticipated, because they aggregated several sides from the other mains. I will say, though, that it did smell strongly of pork :) It was somewhat unappetizing for me, but I know everyone else had a great time. So if there are no vegetarians in your group, highly recommended. If you have any vegetarians, come back another time.

Nov 29, 2010
velvetdc1 in Chicago Area

Weekend in Nashville - budget, authentic, and vegetarian - can it be done?

Hi, my boyfriend and I are doing a weekend getaway in Nashville the weekend after next. First visit for both of us. We're driving down from Chicago on Friday night and coming back Sunday afternoon. We are vegetarians and, as he is taking me to Alinea this weekend for my birthday, will be on a Very tight food budget when there. In all, about $100 per person for the weekend. An additoinal consideration is that we Love food and want to get as "quintessential" an experience as we can, given the previous constraints.

Firstly, should we stay at the Sheraton Music City or Sheraton Nashville Downtown, assuming the main goal is to meet our eating agenda above and hopefully hear some live (free?) music at some point too?

Secondly, after my perusing of these boards I have come up with this. Please comment!
Fri dinner - will be on the road - any southern chains we should try?
Sat brunch - Fido, Pfunky Griddle, or Loveless?
Sat dinner - Southern Bred
Sun brunch - Fido, Pfunky Griddle, or Loveless?
Sun early afternoon snack (before leaving) - Calypso cafe? Eastland cafe for cheese plate?

Thank you!

Nov 29, 2010
velvetdc1 in Kentucky & Tennessee

"Lace" themed dinner

I'm sorry I never reported back on this! I ended up making crepes, using buckwheat so that it was extra-porous. Everyone appreciated the effort although it didn't really look very lacy :) I got the idea from rava dosa which is a variation on the south Indian dosa. So thanks for the roti and crepe ideas for jogging my imagination a little. I also had all the ladies wear lace accessories and got a bit over the top with the table setting. All in all a success. Thank you all for the suggestions!

Nov 29, 2010
velvetdc1 in Home Cooking