Wednesday, March 30, 2011

David Burke's Primehouse - Chicago, IL

David Burke is known for his whimsical interpretation of American classics.  So when I saw that David Burke's Primehouse was participating in Chicago's Restaurant Week last month, I had to get a group of us together.  Yeena, her husband Dave, Susan and I went there for lunch.  It was an awesome deal.  We each got a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert for $22.  

The great thing about their menu was that they also offered the ability to supplement appetizers, sides and even steak additions for a supplemental charge.

We each were served a popover that was baked in its own measuring cup.  Talk about cute!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

Last month, the cover page of my bon appetit magazine read "Best-Ever Brownies.  Waring: You Will Eat the Entire Tray."  Last year, I found my go to brownie recipe and thought my search was over.  But that didn't mean I couldn't take a peek at the recipe, right?  So when I read the recipe, it reassured me to know that it sounded remarkably similar to David Lebovitz's recipe.  Especially the part about mixing the batter for a full minute or until you get a nice sheen.  I have to admit though I was mildly curious about the browned butter part so I had to see for myself.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Publican - Chicago, IL

I've been to Publican before but didn't feel like it lived up to all the hype.  Their spicy pork rinds are famous, but I much prefer Chizakaya's puffed pork ears.  But Yeena hadn't been yet so when we were thinking of some brunch options, we contemplated Publican for Sunday brunch.  They only have brunch on Sundays and it's from 10 am to 2 pm. 

I wasn't sure how difficult it would be to get reservations, but it wasn't too bad actually.  Because of the communal seating, you can definitely fit a lot more people in there than you would expect. 

We started off with some dishes to share, namely the banana bread and ricotta cheese and the maple syrup braised publican bacon that they are also notorious for.  

The banana bread was toasted, placed on top of a mound of ricotta, drizzled with honey, walnuts and pieces of dried fruit.  I need to make this at home, it was so simple, but just a great mixture of textures and flavors. 

VIP Restaurant - Chicago, IL

If you've been following my blog at all, you know how much I love Great Seas and in particular, their gam pong gi.  It's the holy grail upon which all gam pong gi is judged.  I have yet to find one quite like it.  I'm not a huge fan of Great Seas' jajangmyun so when a friend recently mentioned VIP as having better jajangmyun, I knew we would have to check it out at some point.  
What better reason to go eat jajangmyun than for black day.  I have never participated in black day before, but this year I got two invitations for it.  I was supposed to go to Great Seas on actual v-day, but couldn't make it.  Black day for those that aren't familiar with it is a Korean holiday for single people.  So on v-day, while your dating or married friends are celebrating, you and your single friends go eat jajangmyun together.  I'm not sure how the tradition came to be, but any excuse to go eat jajangmyun is fine by me.  

A couple girlfriends and I went to celebrate an early black day at VIP.  We ordered some fried dumplings.  I love the little boat it came in.  A fried dumpling can do no wrong in my book.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Brat Stop - Kenosha, Wisconsin

One of my close friends made a comment about my blog recently that she used to remember me posting relatively healthy recipes, but about how now all my posts are about bacon, beef, steak, cheese and more cheese.  I kind of chuckled at her observation, but it is so true.  My diet has changed significantly since moving to the midwest.  I used to hate bacon; was never a fan of cheese mixed in with food; probably consumed one steak, if that, a year and thought sausage or any encased meats was gross.  Now, those are the first things I gravitate towards when I open the menu.  lol.   

Case in point, for brunch recently in Napa, my friend, who is vegan and eats raw foods, had a fresh, colorful chopped salad, while I found myself in front of a plate of duck confit with creamy mushroom risotto.  Did I mention, I also consumed an almond and chocolate croissant 30 minutes before our brunch?  A rehaul of my diet will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, I will share with you a fun trip we had to Wisconsin.  I love road trips.  We went hiking at Kettle Moraine State Forest and on the way back, we stopped by the Brat Stop.  A trip to Wisconsin wouldn't be complete without eating a brat, right?  That and fried cheese curds, but I think I'll pass on that one.  

Check out the sign, it just says C-H-E-E-S-E.  I wonder what they have at the Brat Stop?  


Monday, March 21, 2011

Hopleaf Bar - Chicago, IL

I actually first heard of Hopleaf from my cousin Jung when he came to visit me this past summer.  He was looking online for some good bars that we could try and Hopleaf was on his list.  It's up in Uptown so it was a bit far out of the way for us, but Gook found out about a monthly storytelling event that they have on the second floor.  On the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm on the second floor of Hopleaf, featured writers and performers share intimate, personal stories from their every day lives.  We thought it sounded like a fun thing to check out so we all made the drive up there after work one week.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Raw Brownies

There's a great raw food eatery in the French Market in Chicago called Raw.  After putting my stomach through the grinder after Mexico City, I went through a week or so of eating or drinking liquids.  I avoided solid foods like the plague.  For about a week, I survived on juices and smoothies from Raw, all of which are super tasty and good for you.  It didn't take long for my stomach to recover and my memory to fade, before I was back to my normal eating habits.  I did however, want to try their raw sweets selection.  A friend of mine happened to be on a vegetarian diet around the same time, so I brought over a lemon square and tiramisu for us to try from Raw.  

I have to say I was pretty darn impressed.  I love Larabars now, but when I was first introduced to them, my friend would rave about how their "apple pie" really tasted like the real thing.  I tried countless flavors and all I could think was ... everything tastes the same ... it basically tastes like dates and nuts.  I'd rather you just tell me it's a date and nut bar rather than mask it as something else.  So I've never really trusted raw desserts to taste like their equivalents.  But I have to say that their lemon bar and tiramisu looked and tasted like the real thing, just a bit more dense than what you would expect.  I have a basic understanding that all raw sweets are composed of a mixture of nuts, nut butters, dates, dried fruit or cocoa powder.  Because it's so nut and dried fruit based, it can be quite rich tasting, which makes it all the more satisfying.  I never thought I'd be one to like raw anything ... but her sweets made a believer out of me.  

So inspired by my new found interest in raw sweets, I decided to try to make raw brownies at home. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mastro's Steakhouse - Chicago, IL

For Susan's official birthday dinner, a week later, we went to Mastro's Steakhouse.  Those from California are familiar with Mastro's but they opened one here in Chicago a few months ago in River North and it's been doing really well.    

It was a packed night and really dim in there, so I didn't want to bust out my camera and annoy the parties next to us.  I didn't take pictures until dessert, well after the place had cleared out.  Sorry guys, I'll share with you what we ordered though.  

We got the Mastro's house salad, warm spinach salad and the chopped salad to start.  All of them were great.  Usually I end up gravitating towards one salad, but I have to say all of them were addicting. For our entrees, most of us ordered the steak, but I think Gook ordered the pork chop and he said it was excellent as well.  

I love coming with a big group to steakhouses because you get to order and try so many different sides.  For our sides, we got their lobster mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts with pancetta, creamed corn, asparagus and sauteed mushrooms.  

Now for the desserts.  We ordered the butter cake, chocolate pudding cake and they surprised Susan with a slice of their chocolate cake.  

Here's the chocolate pudding cake with creme anglaise.  It was gooey and warm.  

This is one huge slice of chocolaty cake for Susan.  

They are famous for their butter cake, which is like pound cake topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel and raspberry sauce.  It also comes with a bowl of fresh whipped cream.  Talk about decadent.  People seemed to like the butter cake and the pudding cake the best.  The chocolate cake was a bit too dense.

We all probably gained 10 pounds from this meal alone, but that's what friends are for, right?  :) 

Why do I feel like I need to go on a juice cleanse all of the sudden?  

Mastro's Steakhouse
520 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60654

Harold's Chicken Shack - Chicago, IL

So jumping from one roommate to another, my current roommate Susan's birthday was a few months ago.  We had planned to go out to dinner to celebrate but she came down with a nasty cold.  So what is a girl to do when your friend is too sick to go out.  Make chicken soup?  nope ... even better, get some fried chicken.  One thing that I've learned about living with Susan is that she loves fried chicken.  We are lucky enough to live close to Harold's the Fried Chicken King so I went there to grab a bucket of fried chicken for the birthday girl.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jam - Chicago, IL

My former roommate and I met up for brunch recently at one of her favorite brunch spots, Jam.  She has been having a horrible bout of morning sickness so couldn't really stomach much except for oatmeal so we made sure to go somewhere that served oatmeal for breakfast.    

I got there a few minutes earlier than her and looked over their menu and had a moment of panic when I discovered they only accept cash.  I'm so bad about carrying enough cash on me these days.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Honky Tonk Barbeque - Chicago, IL

I received a gift certificate to Honky Tonk awhile back so one a cold, snowy night I dragged my friends to Pilsen to check out this place known for their BBQ.  

Here's what it says on their website: 
"Honky Tonk Barbeque features championship barbeque pork, beef, chicken and other down-home dishes. We feature slow, wood-roasted beef, pork and chicken. It is cooked over a wood burning fire with no natural gas. This results in pulled pork and smoked brisket that is cleaner tasting and free of the taste of fuel that is noticable in almost all the other barbeque you will find in town. Come and try it for yourself and see what a difference the wood makes!"  They were also featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.