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Posts from the ‘Food Journeys.’ Category

Italian Goodness.

Topo Gigo (www.topogigiochicago.com) has fresh and yummy food that tastes like home-cooked Italian food. The restaurant has a great ambiance and lively feel to it.  There is also a great outdoor area that’s perfect for dining outdoors in nice weather. They have a wide selection on their menu of appetizers, salads, pastas and entrées. I highly recommend! Below are some of our orders from the past few months.

ANTIPASTO FREDDO: A presentation of meats, cheese and grilled vegetables from their antipasto table $6.95 per person

BRUSCHETTA AL PROSCIUOTTO DI PARMA: Garlic bread with cherry tomato, baked with mozzarella, topped with prosciutto and fresh basil $5.95

INSALATA DI GAMBERI: Large grilled shrimp, fresh spinach, string beans, capers, avocado with Ligurian extra virgin olive oil & lemon dressing  $15.95

CONCHIGLIE ALLA SARDA: Seashell pasta in a tomato-cream sauce with ground sausage, peas and pecorino cheese $13.95

FILETTO DI BUE AL BAROLO: Grilled beef tenderloin, with mushrooms and Barolo wine sauce, mashed potatoes & spinach $18.95

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A Lunchtime Feast At Socca.

I recently went to Socca (www.soccachicago.com) with a friend of mine for a lunch date. Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Socca serves French-Italian cuisine and has a brunch/lunch and dinner menu. We did something that I’ve always wanted to do… we ordered a few things from the menu and had bites of each to sample and taste! It was so much fun. Of course, we had quite a few leftovers, but it was a great experience and a great way to sample the many delicious dishes Socca’s brunch/lunch menu had to offer.

Smoked Salmon BLT: Bacon, Arugula, Tomato. Caper Aioli, Toasted Croissant Pretzel Roll, With Fresh Berries $12

Breakfast Burger: Toasted Brioche, Wisconsin Cheddar, Horseradish Mustard, Peppered Bacon, House Pickles, Fried Egg, Served With Frites $14

Speck Pizzette: Smoked Prosciutto, Artichoke, Roasted Peppers, Egg $11

Spinach & Mushroom Hash: Spinach, Mushrooms, Potatoes, 2 Eggs, Hollandaise $10

A Perfect Night Out At Paris Club.

I had the perfect night out with the girls this past Friday night. We went to Paris Club (www.parisclubchicago.com) in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and had lots of laughs, lots of wine and lots of great food! The menu at Paris Club has a variety of dishes, but we focused in on their small plates selection so we could sample more of the delicious cuisine. Below are our choices from our night out.

Escargot Bourguignonne – Puff Pastry, each $1.95. This escargot was the best way to start off our meal! The escargot is cooked in garlic, butter and herbs and then topped with puff pastry. Conveniently, the little pot matched my manicure perfectly!

Small Pot of Mussels – Coconut Curry, $10.95. These are the best mussels that I’ve had in a long time. They are cooked in a light coconut curry broth that also features bright, zesty citrus. The balance between the curry and the citrus is perfect. Dipping the crusty bread in the broth was the best part!

Smoked Salmon and Avocado – Brioche, $9.95. This dish is beautifully plated and made with simple and fresh ingredients. The creamy avocado compliments the salty, smokiness of the salmon perfectly.

Tuna Tartare Française – Lemon, Mint, $10.95. This tuna tartare dish is fresh and light. It was bursting with bright, tart flavors. The tuna and lemon are a perfect pair.

Macaroni Gratinée – French Ham, $6.95. This was by far the richest dish that we ordered. The creamy macaroni and ham, topped with crispy Gruyère cheese, was the perfect combination of decadence.

Lamb Meatballs – Harissa Tomato Sauce, $8.95. These meatballs are perfectly cooked in a spicy and smoky tomato sauce and are full of bold flavors and spices. The fresh basil and olives are a great finishing touch that brightens up the dish.

Tarte Flambée – Bacon, Caramelized Onion, $9.95. This tarte is similar to a very thin-crust pizza. The smoky bacon and the sweet caramelized onions are perfect together. I mean, bacon on pizza? Yes, please!

Croque Monsieur Fingers – Dip Madame, $5.95. This dish is a great play on a croque monsieur. Made with ham and Gruyère cheese, you eat the finger by dipping it in the pot which holds a perfectly poached egg. It’s a brilliant idea and is so delicious!



Petit Déjeuner.

Bistrot Margot (www.bistrotmargot.com) is one of  Gareth’s and my favorite neighborhood spots. Located on Wells Street in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, they serve up a variety of delicious French cuisine. Their dinner entrees can be a bit pricey, but their brunch menu is so affordable… and fabulous! Below are some of our favorite dishes.

TRADITIONNEL OEUFS BENEDICT: (I ordered without the Hollaindaise and potatoes) 2 poached eggs atop English muffin & Canadian bacon with Hollandaise, served with home style potatoes and haricots verts $7.95

BISTROT SALAD: Boston lettuce, spinach, bacon, egg, walnut vinaigrette $4.95

CROQUE MONSIEUR A LA MARGOT: Grilled country ham and Gruyere cheese served Parisian style with pommes frites $8.95

BISTROT BLOODY MARY

On Easter, they had a great prix fixe menu with three lovely courses. Below are some choices from that meal:

TARTE AU BRIE: Puff pastry topped with brie, served with asparagus and topped with a balsamic reduction.

LEG OF LAMB: Sliced and served with roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables.

ROASTED HAM: Served with sweet potato gratin and haricots verts in a mustard sauce.

PROFITEROLES: Made with vanilla ice cream and topped with rich chocolate sauce.

BREAD PUDDING: In a warm sauce made with Grand Marnier and topped with vanilla ice cream.

Hidden Gold Coast Gem.

3rd Coast (www.3rdcoastcafe.com) is an all time favorite of ours and we have become regulars there. It’s a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s a hidden gem, tucked away in a Gold Coast apartment building. You’ll rarely have a wait there, even during peak hours. Their service is welcoming and friendly and they move quickly to get you seated and served. They have a liquor licence and serve delicious Bloody Marys and have an extensive wine list. Below are some of the dishes we’ve ordered over the last year or so. Yum!

BLOODY MARY: garnished with cheese, pepperoni and an olive.

 THICK CUT SMOKED B.L.T.: with hash browns, soup, salad or fruit $10

SMOKED TURKEY AND BRIE SANDWICH: served with hash browns, soup, or fruit $10.25

SKIRT STEAK OR CHICKEN FAJITAS: Served with rice, homemade pico de gallo, avocado, sour cream and flour or corn tortillas $13

CAJUN CHICKEN PENNE: Penne pasta with grilled chicken in a spicy alfredo sauce $13.50

A Glamorous Downtown Sushi Spot.

Friends Sushi (www.friendssushi.com) is a great downtown sushi spot. My friend Jenny and I went on a sushi date to Friends Sushi a couple of months ago. It’s on Rush Street right off of Michigan Avenue, but it was surprisingly calm for lunch despite our close proximity to the Magnificent Mile. The interior is quite modern and posh, we felt like we were transported somewhere else. The service was prompt and friendly- go figure! They have a huge menu with tons of different types of creative roles. I highly recommend it if you’re a sushi lover.

Vegetable Tempura: Lightly friend sweet potato tempura. This roll is simple, sweet, crunchy and delicious. You can’t go wrong.

Summer Roll: Yellowtail, jalapeno, cilantro and a touch of lime. This was light and tangy with a bit of heat. My favorite!

Friends: (top) king crab, shrimp tempura, cream cheese, sriracha sauce, green apple topped with unagi, avocado, tempura crumb, red tobiko, creamy wasabi sauce and unagi glaze. This is their signature role. It’s quite complex with a lot of flavors. It’s definitely a heavier roll, but still really yummy!

Crispy Creamy:  (bottom) Shrimp tempura, avocado, asparagus, scallion, cream cheese, wasabi tobiko, spicy sauce topped with parmesan cheese, tempura crumb, creamy wasabi sauce and unagi sauce. This is another more complex roll but was full of different flavors and textures that all complimented each other very well.

Can you handle it: Salmon, chili oil, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, spicy sauce, japanese pepper topped with unagi, mango, spicy mayo and unagi sauce. Jenny and I both like spicy foods, so this was a must for us. We loved it! Lots of heat but great tastes, too.

Milwaukee Birthday Brunch

Gareth took me to Milwaukee for my birthday a couple of weekends ago and we had my b-day brunch at Cafe Benelux (www.cafebenelux.com) in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward. It had been recommended to us, so we decided to give it a try. I’m so glad we did, because it was amazing! Their menu is so creative and interesting. Below are a few of our brunch selections.

Stinking Rose Bloody Mary: This bloody mary was magnificent. It is made with garlic-infused hangar one vodka, house-made bloody mary mix, garlic beef stick  and shrimp. It’s also garnished with an olive, pickle and piece of asparagus! We obviously had really good breath the rest of the day! 🙂

Steel Cut Oats: These oats were piping hot and topped with roasted pear and cinnamon sugar. The creamy texture of the oats mixed with the sweetness of the pear was so yummy. It was the perfect breakfast on a cold winter morning!

House-Made Smoked Salmon: This plate was complete with capers, red onions, cucumber salad, rye bread toast and last, but not least, their house-made smoked salmon. It was healthy, fresh and delicious.

Buffalo Chicken Waffle: This was obviously Gareth’s brunch choice. This included a buffalo spiced waffle topped with fried buffalo chicken, shaved celery, shaved carrots and a blue-cheese sauce. The waffle had some sweetness, but overall this was a savory dish. Gareth was in heaven!