Posts Tagged ‘restaurant review’

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Brunch Mitten Style

12.4.2010

Paul, the child, and I went to the D for Thanksgiving. And brunch must be had no matter the city. My parents were good enough to oblige us by taking us to The Gathering Place in Northville for happy morning eats.

The restaurant is located in a house (Not one that people live in, but that might be fun. “Nice robe, ma’am. Don’t mind us, we’re just here for brunch.”) Tables are scattered in various rooms with large, open windows. It’s one of those bright and cheery places that make brunch a sunny affair. This is not a hangover-nursing brunch place.

What We Ate

I had the spicy shrimp frittata. Eggs frittatized with shrimp, peppers, potatoes, and a mole sauce. It was spicy, but I still asked for Tabasco. They gave me the dregs of the Tabasco bottle—which was just as well because ooh man, the mole hit me with a bit of a vengeance. Served with toast of choice and homemade jam.

Paul went with a sweet dish, which is a bit unusual for him, especially considering they had a chorizo-based dish on the menu. He said he had plate envy, but his malted waffle looked tasty enough to me. It had apple and apple goo on top. He did cave to his meat tendencies by ordering a side of sausage.

My mom had eggs Benedict. They were perfectly formed, sitting on toast rounds. My dad went with a dish that had “sassy” in its name. It was the aforementioned chorizo dish with spicy potato-based hash. Avocado slices on the side.

What We Drank

Well, the child had a bottle during the meal, but since that’s not on the menu, I’ll stick with the adult beverages. Coffee for Paul and I, tea for the mum, and water for my dad. The tea comes in a cute individual pot.

All around yummy goodness. I highly recommend it to those driving around the mitten looking for eggs, waffles, and other assorted brunch goodies. Oh, they also do lunch and dinner as well.

Location: 505 N. Center Street in Northville, MI (south of Eight Mile Road). They have parking next to the building. Of course, it’s suburban Detroit, so parking is a bit of a given.

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Anniversary Dinner: LM Restaurant

11.18.2010

Paul and I celebrated our anniversary dinner last week at LM Restaurant. It’s a French bistro up in Lincoln Square. We got there a wee bit early so we could have a drink at the bar. I usually recommend this as a nice way to slide into dinner, but in this case, it might add stress to your evening. LM’s bar is really short—four stools short. As there is no waiting area at the door and patrons can eat at the bar, you’ll be lucky to get a place for that pre-dinner drink. Of course, Paul and I are the luckiest people ever so we each had a wickedly strong cocktail before dinner.

The restaurant itself is that traditional long and narrow Chicago affair. The décor is very light and airy. We went on a Saturday night at 8:30, and it was crowded but not horribly loud. They do have the problem plaguing a lot of restaurants today—the tables are pretty much on top of each other. So, we were able to easily listen to our neighbors’ conversation. Unfortunately, they were quite dull and talked about work the entire time. (They probably thought we were equally dull as our conversation seemed to revolve around Stalin and Russian caviar. Oh yes, Paul and I are true romantics and like to discuss dictators during our evenings out.)

What We Ate

Appetizers: Paul had something completely unremarkable (it must have been unremarkable because I can’t even remember what he ate and I tried some of it). I had the tuna tartar which came with espelette aioli and heart of palm. Espelette is a fancy French chili pepper. So, imagine the small tuna bits in a perfectly formed oval all spicy and yummy. I definitely won this round.

Main Course: But, Paul won the main course round. He had the roasted pork loin with macaroni gratin, swiss chard, bacon, and prunes. I know, I know, you say the word prunes and everyone flips out. Eww that must be icky like old lady food. Well, sorry, prunes are awesome especially when they are baked with bacon and put on top of the loins of an animal. And, the square of macaroni gratin? Oh, I want to gratin my macaroni from here on out. The dish was a little bit of heaven and I should have ordered it. Instead, I went for the roasted duck breast which was served with gold turnips, apple, Brussels sprouts, and lavender honey. Judging by the description, I should have been the clear winner, correct? Well, no. The duck was not crispy or flavored. It was just kind of eh. Pluralizing sprouts is a bit misleading as there was one Brussels sprout taken apart and artistically placed on the plate. Everything sat on top of the lavender honey which I loved, but didn’t realize was there until very near the end. Lavender honey is good. I would perhaps use it in tea.

Dessert: Sleepy, sleepy Paul struck again. He had a cup of coffee (served in a personal French press). I had the chocolate pot de crème (yum!).

What We Drank

For pre-dinner cocktails, I had the black tea infused vodka. Super strong and made with house made lemonade (which I would hope was house made since lemonade is pretty easy to make). Paul had the Campari martini (not served in a martini glass, by the way) which was made from vodka, Campari, orange bitters, and grapefruit juice. I was not a fan.

With dinner, we drank a 2006 Foulaquier Pic St Loup L’orphee Grenache/Syrah. It was red and winy. See? I am not a wine snob. I call it like I see it. Because I am trying to get back on the lush bandwagon, I had a glass of 1994 Roze’s Late Bottled Vinage with dessert. That’s a port, which has a very special place in my anniversary heart. The whole reason I have an anniversary to celebrate is because Paul flew me to Portugal, got me drunk on port, and proposed. (We both admit that it’s a long way to bring someone just to get them sloppy drunk, but it was all very thrilling at the time.) Anyway, my husband was falling asleep at the dinner table and I’m boozing it up. Honestly, isn’t that what anniversaries are all about?

Location: LM is located in Lincoln Square at 4539 N. Lincoln. Street parking is not the best, but it’s not impossible. Also, there’s a parking lot a few doors down (across from the Old Town School of Folk Music.

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Behind on Brunching: Wishbone and Tweet

7.12.2010

So, I have been getting crazy with the Cheez Whiz doing brunch lately. (Yeah, I’m that old that I reference lyrics from 1994. Not only did I do music pre-digital, I did it pre-CD. Eat that, young ‘uns.) Besides being a bit feisty, I’m behind on my thoughts on brunch.

Brunch, for those of you who may not know me well, is my favoritist of favorite meals. Mostly because you can have a sandwich AND pancakes on one plate and no gives it a second thought. Fried chicken and waffles? Oh, yes you can! And, omelets! The good lord has never invented a more perfect dish. Eggs folded with whatever foodstuffs for which you might have a hankering. Best of all? You don’t have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to brunch. Heavenly, I say. Here are two restaurants where I’ve brunched at recently.

Wishbone

With two large city locations (and one out the suburbs), Wishbone is a good choice for low-wait time brunching. I would call it Southern-inspired (although they call it Southern reconstruction). Six of one, half dozen of the other. It’s tasty and as we live south of the Madison line, we went to the West Loop location when my mom was in town. Keep in mind that this location closes between 3 and 5, so if you like to brunch on the late side, get in before 2:30 (when the kitchen takes last brunch orders and the bar menu turns over from mimosas to dinner cocktails).

What We Ate

I had the corn cakes which are pancakes made from corn meal, bits o’ corn and scallions. They come with red pepper sauce and two eggs as you like them. And, yes, they taste fabulous with syrup—just the right amount of sweet and savory. Surprising everyone at the table and eschewing the biscuits and gravy, Paul had the North Carolina crab cakes which comes with hollandaise sauce; two eggs; home fries, beans, or grits; and a corn muffin, biscuit, or toast. So, I guess there’s enough food there for Paul. My mom went for the Louisiana chicken salad—blackened and warm chicken on a bed of mixed greens with a corn muffin or biscuit. I can’t really remember what my sister had, but she seemed to like it.

What We Drank

Sweet teas and waters all around. We dined al fresco. There’s a surcharge for alcoholic beverages on the patio. Really? You have to charge us extra? Boo.

Location: 1001 W. Washington (you know, right near where Oprah hangs out).

Tweet

Owned by the folks who own Big Chicks (right next door), Tweet has an amazingly large menu which stresses organic ingredients. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. If it’s crowded when you get there, pop over to Big Chicks and wait at their bar. They make great bellinis, Bloody Marys, and mimosas. Space is limited (with a few outdoor tables when the weather is nice). They also have a decent “keep the kids entertained” basket that they bring to tables with wee ones.

What We Ate

I LOVE their quiche of the day platter. It is always a sure fire hit for my insides. But, since I always get that and wanted to try something else, I ordered David Sharpe’s omelet. Basically, a three-egger with sautéed asparagus, shallots, and Swiss cheese. Comes with toast and potatoes (although I had salad). And, fresh fruit or compote. As I’m not a big fan of melons, I always choose the compote which contains apples and pears made mushy by sugar and heat.

Tweet has a copious number of specials each brunch period. My friends ordered mostly off of that menu. One ordered the breakfast tortillas with chorizo. It was a gooey pile of sauces and burrito fixins laid atop stacks of tortilla rounds. Another friend did the make your own omelet. Again, these are three-egg omelets so they are rather large. And, the third friend at our table ordered one of the special omelets. I can’t remember what it was called, but it had bacon and veggies tucked inside.

What We Drank

Coffee all around except for me. I had a vanilla chai with soy. It came in a tall glass plus an accompanying carafe. So much chai, so very good.

Location: 5020 N. Sheridan Road. There’s street parking, and depending on the time of day, it might actually be easy.

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Grabbing Some Grub Mexican-Style: Dinner at Adobo Grill

7.2.2010

You can totally tell that class is out for a few weeks as I catch up with everyone I haven’t seen in the last 10 weeks. After work this week, I got some dinner with a friend (and her adorable son) He’s not exactly eating the solid food yet, but still decided to join us–mostly because his mother put him in the car and he really had no option. We went to Adobo Grill in Wicker Park. This is their second location and a bit roomier than the Old Town spot. Plus, there is a large outdoor seating area street-side. And, since we’ve been having delightful weather, it was nice to actually be able to sit in the sun.

What We Ate

Appetizer: We had to have the guacamole and chips. The guac is made and served tableside (unless you’re outside because they can’t get that honking cart through the door). But they do ask you if you want it mild, medium, or spicy. We opted for medium which is just like regular guac and not spicy at all, so go figure.

Entrees: My friend got the fish tacos which are served with your traditional side of beans and rice. They’re Baja-style beer-battered tilapia. I had the pulled-pork empanadas. There were just two, which was OK because I totally gorged on the guacamole and chips. The sauce was a bit disturbing though. Now, it just might be pregnancy taste buds, but it kind of tasted like the sauce from a Chef Boyardee can. (I could be wrong about this because I’ve only had Chef Boyardee once, but it certainly left a rather foul impression on my young mind.) I think next time I’ll stick with the tacos or the vegetarian plate.

Dessert: We both ordered the flan. And no, we didn’t share. I’m just piggy like that. The flan is… well… flan. You can’t really get it wrong.

What We Drank

My friend had a strawberry margarita which was actually made with fresh fruit (you can see the bits floating around in there) rather than a mix. Real fruit is yummier! While I waited for her to arrive, I ordered a lemonade at the bar. They only had limeade which was fine. Until I got the bar bill–$3.50 for a glass of non-alcoholic limeade. (Sigh. I know that as a bartender, you depend on more expensive drink orders so you can get a nice tip. And, I understand, but I’m a pregnant lady. I would have given you a bigger tip because of my lack of alcoholic beverage. Plus, it’s a mid-week day at 6:00. There was NO ONE in the bar. Cheap. That’s all it is. Cheap.) I had water with my dinner. (Not out of spite, but I really didn’t fancy paying $3.50 for another limeade.)

Location: 2005 W. Division (first restaurant west of Damen, right across from the D&D and now shuttered sketchy video rental place)

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After-Work “Drinks” at the Bull and Bear

7.1.2010

So, first off I went to grab some grub and drinks with a friend after work/acupuncture. Since my acupuncturist is near the Merchandise Mart, we decided to drop in at the Bull and Bear. Before I even start, I need to say that they have one of the worst web sites I’ve encountered in a while. I may have been in this business too long, but crazy scrolling crap at the top and music just scream web sites circa 1999. Seriously, I have to click a link to “launch” the site? (I guess maybe they were going for a retro something or other because I certainly LOVE when the back button takes me back to the home page instead of the page I just left.) And, then I clicked over to the site designer’s site. Um, yeah falling yellow dots. Thanks.

OK, on to the restaurant—which is really a “masculine” sports bar on steroids. (Read that as a whole lotta wood paneling and mega huge flatscreens behind the bar with airing various games.) Complete masculine bar theme with young girls in Hooters-esque bright pink tank tops, and you’ve got yourself some serious mojo going on. Oh! And, if you call ahead, you can reserve a table with its own pay-by-the-ounce beer tap. What’s on tap? One domestic and one import. The domestic is NOT a local brew, but rather an ick-style Miller or Bud.

If you can wade through all of that nonsense, the food isn’t half bad. By half, I mean my comments are going to be that half was good and half was bad.

What We Ate

Appetizers: We split an order of wings (five different sauces to choose from… we went with medium). Comes with blue cheese and ranch dressing on a pretty white platter with assorted vegetables. They were tasty. Crispy skin with plenty o’ the BBQ sauce. Plus, the table runner brought us warm, slightly damp washcloths with lemon wedges on top for the cleaning up.

Entrees: My friend had the gazpacho sans croutons and I had the Bull and Bear burger. The burger was an American Kobe beef (which we all know by now is not actual Kobe, but if it gets dupes like me to pay $18 for a burger, I guess restaurants will continue to call crap Kobe) with a sweet onion marmalade and melted gruyere on a brioche bun. It came with a side of truffle fries and smoked bacon aioli. My friend seemed to like her soup. The burger was good in a falling apart messy sort of way. My irritation was the truffle fries? Seriously? There’s no way I believe you’re dropping that sort of cash to fry my potatoes in truffle oil. And, if you drizzled the truffle oil on top, why bother? They’re fried potatoes. They don’t need extra oil drizzle. Use good oil (or better yet duck fat), but truffle oil? Give me a break.

What We Drank

I had an iced tea, my friend had water. Now, this is where I would go back. You can order any of their drink specials as pitchers. Yes, you and your friend both want pink lemonade and vodka? Order a pitcher for $30. And, they’re not small pitchers either. I don’t know if this is the norm for ALL cocktails on their menu, but I imagine if you can reasonably make it in pitcher size, they probably offer it. And, they have Prosecco by the glass or bottle. (Certain people I know would find this a more than adequate reason to make the trip.)

My verdict is that the food is OK, a bit over priced, but still a cut above your typical bar food. You should go for the drinks though and to leer at the servers in their tight tank tops, if that’s your thing.

Location: 431 N. Wells Street (at the corner of Illinois). Outdoor seating available under the super huge umbrellas.

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