Yellowtail & pancetta @ Girl & The Goat
I’m currently in Seattle–all of this was eaten over the last few weeks in Chicago. As my time in Chicago is waning, I have made a conscious effort to go to the restaurants I’ve been meaning to try. As I used to spend at least two weeks here a year for work, I have gone to many of the top restaurants (Alinea, Blackbird, etc.). However, as a student the last two years, my budget dictated that I spend a lot of time at home cooking. Now that a paycheck is on the horizon, I’ve been going to some of the more casual spots.
Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard recently opened Girl & The Goat, and we got lucky with a table for 4 at 9:30pm on a weeknight. I can’t remember all we ate but I do remember very unconventional flavor combinations that were surprising and delightful. It is a bit of a scene right now (more NYC and less your usual Chicago) because there’s a lot of media buzz (and rightfully so). I’m so glad I made it here before the move.
Pork belly torta @ Xoco
I finally made it to Xoco, the newest of Rick Bayless’ Chicago restaurant empire. I’ve been to both Frontera Grill and Topolobampo but hadn’t made the trek downtown to his casual tortaria yet. The day I went, his daughter, Lanie was the hostess. I was tempted to tell her much less annoying she is than Claudine Pepin but refrained. I love tortas and his interpretations were delicious! If I worked in the area and had the time to wait in line, I would eat there at least once a week (though the sandwiches can get pretty messy!).
Easily my favorite pizza place in Chicago. No, its not deep dish and yes, Chicago is famous for deep dish. Personally, I am not a fan of deep dish. I find it soggy and heavy. On the other hand, I love the New Haven style pizza they have at Piece. They also have a huge array of microbrews on tap. We used to wait in line for Piece but ever since we discovered they delivered, our lives have been that much better! I’m a big fan of the white pizza (garlic olive oil instead of tomato sauce).
Asparagus cheese puffs we made @Bespoke
When Joel’s mom was in town, we went to a cooking party at Bespoke. Basically, there are several tables of people and each group is responsible for a full course. The event is designed to make cooking more accessible and they do a very good job on that front. Each group has a chef that guides them through all the steps. I found the recipes too easy (and it was a bit annoying that our chef kept mispronouncing “manchego”) but not everyone is at the same skill level, I guess. In any case, it is a nice social activity where food and learning is involved.