Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cafe Iberico - Chicago, IL

Cafe Iberico holds a special place in my heart ... and stomach, of course.  My law school friends and I used to come here all the time, but I haven't had a chance to come back since I moved back to Chicago.  I was pleading with Jung to eat something besides Italian Beef so when he said he was up for tapas, I knew it was my chance!

We were planning to go see a show at Second City, which is in Lincoln Park, so this was a perfect pre-show dinner.  We went pretty early, so there wasn't much of a wait.

I begged Jung for some vegetables or salad (my attempt at detoxing from all the italian beef) so he let me choose the Ensalada Mixta, which was a Spanish style mixed salad with asparagus, beets, hearts of palm, endive, dressed with a creamy vinaigrette.  A very simple salad, but Jung really liked the hearts of palm.  He said most of the hearts of palm that he's had are kind of firm.  He was right, these hearts were very tender.  

I basically told him that back in the day, we always ordered the Chorizo y Morcilla, which is a platter of grilled Spanish style sausages, the Pulpo a la Plancha, grilled octopus with potatoes and olive oil, and the paella.  We never deviated from those three items.  We didn't get the chorizo this time, but we got the grilled octopus and seafood paella.  The grilled octopus was as delicious as I remembered.  I don't know how they get the octopus to be so tender.  It's really hard to cook octopus so that it's not chewy or tough.  For the life of me, I can't figure out how they do it.  It's without a doubt one of my favorite dishes at Cafe Iberico.

Jung also wanted to check out the Calamares a la Plancha, grilled squid with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.  This too was good, but if I had to choose between the octopus and the squid, I'd go with the octopus all the way. 

We also chose the Almejas en Salsa Verde, which were small clams sautéed with shallots, white wine and parsley.  Notice the thick broth.  I don't think those clams could yield that much broth, so not sure where that broth came from, but it still tasted good.  I have to say the best almejas I've ever had has to be at Cal Pep in Barcelona.  I don't know what it is about seafood in Spain, but it's so much more flavorful there.  I need to find a reason to go back.  :)     

The Paepaella Marinera, or the seafood paella, takes about 30 to 40 minutes, so they recommend ordering that in advance.  It was a seafood paella made with shrimp, fish, clams, and other seafood in a special saffron broth.  Initially it looked like we weren't going to be able to finish this on our own, but the pan is pretty shallow.  

Eating at Iberico was like seeing a long lost friend, so much has changed and you almost feel like you've outgrown the other person, yet there's this familiarity and ease there.  I have to say that my trip to Spain has spoiled me rotten in terms of Spanish tapas and I have yet to find a place that has replicated that feeling for me, but there's always be room for Iberico and that grilled octopus never fails to disappoint.  

Cafe Iberico
739 N LaSalle Dr
Chicago, IL 60610

After dinner, we went to go see a show at Second City.  Now, why I never went to Second City while I was in law school behooves me, but I'm making up for lost time.  If anyone of you guys come to visit me, we're going to Second City, no if, ands, or buts.  

Jung and I went to go watch The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life.  A word to the wise, if you plan on going to a show on a Thursday or weekend, you should buy your tickets well in advance.  We tried buying tickets the day of and they were sold out.  So this was our second attempt at catching a show.  That night, one of the main actors, Tom Flanigan, didn't perform and there was an understudy, who both Jung and I thought was hilarious.  A few weeks later, I read that Tom Flanigan got hired by Saturday Night Live.  Kudos to him!  So maybe that's why he wasn't there that night.  It's too bad we didn't get to see him in person, but the show was awesome and the cast is so talented.  I'm definitely going to check out their other shows as well.  

The Second City
1616 N Wells St
(between Concord Ln & North Ave) 
Chicago, IL 60614

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