After the polar vortex in January, my body was seriously craving some spices. So the invitation to dine at Arya Bhavan on Devon Avenue (Chicago’s mini India) came just in time for me to satisfy those cravings.
What started as a vegetarian Indian restaurant, Arya Bhavan now prides itself on serving 100% vegan food, made from organic ingredients and authentic spices. And it has quickly made its mark in Chicago’s vegan community. Their buffet was actually named one of the city’s Top Ten buffets by The Chicago Traveler.
What sets Arya Bhavan apart from other Indian restaurants in the city, is its sheer commitment to healthy food. While Indian food is darn delicious, it is not always the most health conscious cuisine. But what tasty food is?! And for those who want to take it a step further, they offer an a la carte Raw menu, along with monthly raw meal plans, and cooking classes so you can do-it-yourself if you choose to.
The restaurant is strict about adhering to its non-GMO, non-MSG policy, and even incorporates Ayurvedic food practices to ensure the body-mind balance. Their motto is, “Eat Well, Feel Well, Think Well, Heal Well.” The spiritual side of me absolutely adores this.
The atmosphere is the most welcoming, as is owner Kirti with her most hospitable charm. The décor is non-assuming, the space is cozy with fragrant smells of incense all around. Took me right to my childhood, coming home from school to smells of sandalwood.
The restaurant has been around for twenty years and has a loyal following. Throughout the night, customers trickled in to pick up their take out order or meals for the week. Some stopped in, just to say hello!
I had an impressive start with the dairy-free Mango Lassi. Didn’t even know that was possible. A lighter version of the classic, fully vegan yogurt drink, made without compromising on the original taste. Now that’s innovation!
The Mixed Vegetable Platter comprising of samosa, dalvadi, batata vada, cutlet and mirch pakora is the only fried item on their menu. Of course I had to try it. Every fritter had its own unique taste and tasted utterly fresh with fresh cilantro and cumin.
Kirti then sent out the Vegan Tacos from the raw menu. I’ll be candid, raw foods are usually not my go-to food. In the past, I have found them to be bland and a little “too healthy” for my preference. But not these tacos! Crunchy cabbage leaves came stuffed with a mix of bell peppers, onions and magical Indian spices. I say magical because after only a few bites in, I was considering a raw diet! It came with a vegan sour cream on the side which was made from a cashew base, and was also dreamy.
We switched back to traditional Indian food and the versatility of this restaurant is what I love the most. They have it all. Kirti sent out a feast of the curries Dal Bunzara (green lentils with olive oil and cumin), Chana Masala (sundried chickpeas seasoned in a tomato gravy), and their most popular dish, the Malai Kofta.
At first, when Kirti recommended it, I was confused. The word ‘Malai’ means cream; how possibly could you have a vegan version of this dish?! I’m always afraid of having fusion foods that ruin the classics for me. And I am a Malai Kofta loyalist!
This dish said it all. Sweet potato and vegetable dumplings, were topped with a cashew based gravy with cardamom and almonds. Was not only exotic but preserved every bit of the original flavors of the dish. It had me licking the spoon to get every last drop of that rich sauce.
Positively, the most favorite dish for me was the Quinoa Biryani. Biryani is the ultimate indulgence for me and if you can give it to me in a healthy yet delicious way, I’m your fan for life. The nutty quinoa was a great substitute for the rice and with the original spices made for a vigorous and non-starchy, mouth-watering dish.
Biryani was the perfect segway for dessert. What better than sugar to cool the palette. However, there was no sugar. Kirti’s housemade Chocolate and Coconut Macaroons were naturally sweetened with dates, but again, you wouldn’t know the difference. The Raw Lemon Bar was dairy free and decadent also.
I can’t remember the last time I walked out of an Indian restaurant not feeling uncomfortably full. There really is something amazing about vegan diets, and call me biased, but Indian food makes it easy to give up the meat and dairy because there’s still so much flavor. I could never give up fish, but, I can certainly consider eating vegan when I’m not ‘seafooding.’
Whatever your dietary preference, give Arya Bhavan a try and then thank me later!
For the amount of pizza I consume in a month, I should just learn how to make it, right? So I did!
This month, I had the privilege of watching the “Michaelangelo of Pizza,” Chef Gabriele Bonci make his famous Roman-style Al Taglio pizza, and had so much fun being part of it.
As you may or may not know that two years ago, this world-class pizza maker brought his famous Roman-style pizza to Chicago, and it took the city by the storm.
Since Chef Bonci was in town from Rome, a few of us foodies were invited in to learn the secrets of his famous pie while sipping on wine at Bonci Pizzeria’s Wicker Park location.
Chef Bonci is simply amazing. His down-to-earth demeanor makes you want to never stop baking with and learning from him.
We were greeted by ever-pleasant owner, Rick Tasman, who took the time to give us a tour and then explain the philosophy on which Bonci was founded. He also let us choose the pizzas we wanted to try because the choices were many.
Now remember, at Bonci, the pizzas are rectangular and cut in squares with a pair scissors depending on how small or large you want them. The lineup of pizzas changes daily, and they’ve accounted for pescetarians and vegetarians alike.
It should be no surprise that the Smoked Salmon pizza was my pick, but the Potato Mozzarella was super tasty also. You load carbs with carbs and you have my attention! I tried so many pizzas, that I’ve lost count. But another recommendation would be the Cacio e Pepe one. If you’ve had this classic pasta dish, you can only imagine how good it is on a golden crust.
The best part is, that despite all the indulgence, I didn’t leave feeling full. I realized that it was in part due to ingredients being fresh and devoid of preservatives. They say food and service both make an experience, so let me also add that Bonci’s staff are the nicest and so eager to assist and answer questions.
We left full but definitely with to-go boxes for our pizza fill the next few days. And now that I know the secrets of dough making, its time to try to ‘za’ at home.
Or, I’ll just stop into Bonci!
I’ll drive to The Barn Steakhouse any day, any time, after ‘that’ spectacular meal. Visited this sister restaurant of Found Kitchen and Social House, also owned by Amy Morton, daughter of the famous restaurateur Arnie Morton, of the Morton Steakhouse fame.
Both restaurants emphasize on décor, which is usually rustic with warm interiors. The Barn Steakhouse, which actually used to be an old horse stable from 1883 still has brick walls and some of the original windows of the horses’ stalls. Always love a little history with my ambiance.
While its known as a steakhouse, there is enough culinary innovation to fit most dietary preferences. Pescetarians are definitely covered here and there’s good balance of the classic and the modern.
The cocktail menu is impressive, as is the wine menu, with both old and new age wines gracing the menu. The Aviation was the perfect gin cocktail to get warmed up with; because boy was it cold the night I visited.
Fresh warm bread and cold butter always gets me in a good mood. Followed here by the Shrimp Scampi, which was on special that night. Jumbo shrimp doused in butter and herbs, is what I like to see. Chef makes a version that’s simple and sexy.
One of the most creative seafood appetizers I have laid my eyes on was, The Grand Central Caviar Sandwich I ate here. When I saw it on the menu, I couldn’t even fathom what it could be. Two toast points with wild American bowfin caviar, watercress and crème fraiche were served up on a plate. The starter named after and inspired by Grand Central Station’s oyster bar in New York. Strong flavors with suitable fishiness. It was so perfect!
As I switched to a glass of Chianti, I thought their Cheese Platter would be a good way to transition us to the plats principals. A variety of artisan cheese came with oat crackers and a housemade raspberry jam. Wine and cheese could never go wrong!
I always have a favorite dish from my meals, and here it was the Crab Spaghetti. I may have had it once or twice before but definitely do not remember it being this lipsmackingly good. Jumbo lump crab mixed in with shallots, garlic, chili, parmesan and hints of white wine and perfectly cooked noodles, was pasta-la-vista before I knew it. I could not put my fork down.
We ended on a strong note with the South African Lobster Tail, which actually came roasted, and with a side of clarified butter and boiled potatoes. If the lobster is good, that’s all you need! Needless to say it was tender and juicy.
For sides, we had their Mac And Cheese with Gruyere and cheddar, and it was delightful. The Creamed Swiss Chard was a nice combo with everything else we had on the table.
This was one of those meals where I was too full to indulge in dessert. But, the savory not only kept me full it also kept me satiated.
Plus I know I’ll be back and repeat the gluttony again. If The Barn Steakhouse is not on your list, it should be!
Conn’s Catering celebrated their 26thanniversary this month and threw an amazing party at the beautiful and historic Colvin House.
The complimentary tasting event was nicely done, with all event specific packages showcased, from flowers, table settings, champagne and food. DJ Louie Cue shuffled the latest tunes, as guests mingled and grooved and sampled at stations as well as passed hors d’eouvres. There was even a photo booth!
I was most pleasantly surprised with The Impossible Burger station at this event. If weddings start having these, I’ll be the first to attend! Chef Tad Markley presented a good mix of ethnic and classic dishes, in addition to a phenomenal Mac N Cheese bar with all kinds of fixings.
Our sweet tooths were then satisfied by yummy treats from Edge of Sweetness, which called for another round of bubbly.
Owner Brett Conn is just the most hospitable host with a keen vision for keeping his company in line with the times. He’s even taking his staff to New Orleans for training soon. I loved his passion and commitment.
Guests were sent home with goodie bags and their own mini bottle of champagne and my very own copy of the Lifestyle Resource Guide put together by my friend Candice Kuhnen, also my date at the event.
What a great way to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon in an exquisite space, eating and drinking! Keep them in mind for your next event; they’ll make it a great one!
I’m starting to really love the concept of globally inspired cuisine served in restaurants. It is such a great way to amass culinary flavors of the world and bring it into one space. Next of Kin in Evanston is one of those restaurants where you can expect to try a wide range of food and drinks and be guaranteed to have a good time. Their modern décor also really stood out to me and they’ve got three heated domes for outside seating in the winter!
A few of us food bloggers were invited in for a food tasting by the Chicago North Shore, as part of Restaurant Month. Next of Kin joins several other restaurants in offering special deals throughout the month of February, (with the exception of Valentine’s Day). The sweetest deal of them all being here; free dessert with the purchase of any entrée! Did someone say free dessert?
With the restaurant’s magnanimous hospitality we ate and drank a lot. But I’m going to simplify it for you, so your visit can be even more amazing than mine!
For drinks, definitely order the Ginger’s Delicious with guava nectar, champagne and a smooth and spicy ginger liqueur. Must love ginger to love this drink, however. If you like them sweeter, the Sage Advice is perfect, and it even comes with a dramatic presentation as they smoke the sage on this rum-based cocktail, tableside. If you want to go spirit-free, the Mull It Over is a nice winter drink with cinnamon, apple and nutmeg, and is served warm. The wine list isn’t bad either!
For food, I want to prepare you that once you go Local Honey Butter Fries, you’ll never go back. Go back to regular fries that is. OMG, these crispy waffle fries came with a honey butter glaze, were sweet n salty and very, very addictive. We ended up getting two orders for the table!
Just when I think I’ve tried enough Brussels Sprouts dishes and that maybe they are a little overrated, I try yet another one that knocks my socks off. Here, they come with Cotija cheese and a cracked pepper aioli which I also as a condiment for everything else throughout my meal.
The Wildcat Cove Oysters were wonderfully fresh, and stuffed with baby cucumbers and a lemon pepper mignonette. Everything about this was refreshing.
For your entrée, I urge you to order the Lobster and Scallop Linguine with Maine lobster and Bay scallops cooked in a parmesan herb cream. Creamy, dreamy and gooey is all I can say about this dish. Can also be made without the Nueske bacon it comes with originally.
Chef Marco Bahena has all the lobster dishes nailed, because my other favorite was their Maine Lobster Mac, with white cheddar, thyme cream and toasted bread crumbs. Do I even need to explain why this was delicious?
For my vegetarian lovers, a side of their Brussels Slaw is extremely satisfying, and you can get two orders if you want to make a main out of it, but don’t miss out on it. The Lebanese spiced pecans and pomegranate together create bursts of sweet and sour, that was irresistible. Plus, a lot of crunch!
Dessert is a whole different story at Next of Kin. Of course as food bloggers we got a nice sampling of everything, but the table favorite was definitely the Apple Cobbler.
Whether you live in the city or the burbs, you should plan a trip to Next of Kin soon! There’s so much good stuff there!
The Chicagoland suburbs have really upped their food game this past year. And it’s gotten me out to lots of new neighborhoods with a realization that there is life outside the city. I made my very first trip to Glencoe this month, thanks to a dinner invitation at a fairly new restaurant named Valor.
Glencoe has the cutest downtown and although it was a snowy night, it could not mar its beauty. The weather wasn’t the greatest the night I went, and the streets looked very quiet, so you can imagine my excitement when I walked into a well-crowded, bustling restaurant humming with energy. I love seeing people not deterred by Chicago weather. That’s the spirit!
My guest and I were greeted by the hostess and the manager, and we were given a really nice table that had a nice overview of the restaurant.
This New American Bistro’s focus is scratch-made food, and I for one, love that. Everything from their pastas to sauces are homemade. Only local ingredients are used including seafood, and they never over-order because they don’t want the ingredients to go stale. I truly appreciated their commitment to freshness!
Their Asian Mezcal Margarita (made a little sweeter for me) had strong smoky after-taste which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Dutchess with St. Germain and Ketel One was next in line and very refreshing indeed. They’ve got wine and beer too!
As we were deciding on starters, our server almost pleaded us to try their Green Curry Mussels. So glad we took her advice because I haven’t had mussels so fresh and flavorful. I’m not afraid to make bold statements about foods that impress me, because they’re always true. The mussels were soaking in coconut milk, ginger, chives and Fresno chilies. They came with frites incase the warm bread on the table wasn’t enough to mop up the broth. Hey carbs are carbs, and we shouldn’t discriminate.
The Grilled Octopus was a gorgeous dish was cooked in a Cioppino sauce with fennel-piquillo relish, Fresno chilies and pine nuts. Fresno chilies are the most tolerable and enjoyable chilies for me, so I was glad to notice Chef Stefan’s fondness for them. The polenta cakes in this dish were a happy surprise.
A little vegetarian action followed with the Popcorn Cauliflower. A vibrant presentation of rice flour tempura-battered cauliflower with scallions and sesame seeds evenly covered in a spicy Sriracha aioli.
And now that I was on the vegetarian train, I also decided to try their Spicy Szechuan Green Beans with roasted peanuts, which also gave it some added texture.
The Wild Caught Striped Sea Bass was such a finely executed dish. I’m a sucker for Chinese Black Rice (which is also very good for you). The Thai basil curry and wild mushrooms gave it a rich Asian flavor. I fully relished it.
I also tried their Roasted Vegetable Fettucine which came with a big blob of Burrata sitting on top. It was fun to break it up and mix it in with the fresh noodles, and control how creamy we wanted it.
For dessert, we couldn’t decide and ended up ordering a few. The Apple Cranberry Cobbler was my favorite indeed. The freshly baked, hot-out-of-the-oven almond oat crumble smelled heavenly and the caramel ice cream could turn any non-ice-cream lover, including me.
The famous French-influenced L’Ami Jean Rice Pudding was excellent. I somehow have never taken to rice as a dessert option, but it worked here with the salted caramel and orange zest.
Speaking of orange, their Orange Crème Brulee came with a unique kumquat compote and this dish would be worth trying just for that. We washed all of this down with some Almond Liqueur (Mandorla) which I’ve also discovered is the best dessert digestive. Anything to justify my sweet tooth.
What a wonderfully, intimate and memorable dining experience at Valor. I am so impressed by what this restaurant has to offer. It’s got the vibe, food, service; it’s got it all!
I really switched it up this month with a memorable winery tour to Southwest Michigan, thanks to Midwest Adventurers and Canonball Productions. They hosted me and three other food bloggers to help capture all the fun, and boy did we do that.
The company offers several excursions and the winery tour definitely fit me the best. Afterall, only wine could get me out of bed early and on a bus, on a cold Saturday morning.
We were picked up by the bus from downtown Chicago at around 10:30am and were en route to Southwest Michigan for our winery tour in no time.
Our tour coordinator was the very cheerful Vinna who helped us navigate throughout the entire round-trip, providing us instructions along the way. She also made it fun with several rounds of trivia that served as the perfect icebreaker for strangers traveling together on this day-long getaway.
There were four wineries on the agenda and our first stop was Lemon Creek Winery. What a cute space, where we had a sampling of five wines of our choice. Then we headed to Founders Wine Cellar about five minutes away, where a hearty lunch was provided with choice of meat, pasta, veggies and dessert. Don’t worry; wine was also on the menu. In addition, we got a private tour of the wine facility and may have learned a thing or two about making wine.
It tickled me to see how friendly the bus had gotten just after the first two stops. Everyone was feeling good, and the best part was no one had to worry about getting behind the wheel. 20 wine tastings and you can do it responsibly!
The last two cellars were next to each other, so that worked out. Plus, they had cheese and truffles, which helped us, drink more wine! We were also given a customized wine glass to take home. The ride back got rowdy, but in a fun way. There was music and dancing (yes on the bus), and it was wonderful to see such a lighthearted vibe.
You can’t deny that this is a sweet deal for $110. Food, drinks and a chartered ride all included. There were also discounted wine bottles on sale for tour participants.
Some housekeeping items; don’t forget your ID, make sure to have the waiver signed and pulled up on your phone before you board the bus, and bring cash for wine purchase as well as tips for the bus driver/tour coordinator.
The absolute best way to get a little break from the city and your routine while exploring beautiful wineries in your neighboring state. Plus, the opportunity to make new friends! Winery tours are only until the end of the month, so scurry!
You know how I feel about French-Taureaux restaurants?! There can never me enough! So now we have yet another one elevating the dining scene in Chicago, and taking it to new heights. Ladies and Gentlemen, brace yourselves for Taureau Tavern.
Chicago’s newest venture led by Executive Chef Mike Sheerin, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and French-themed libations, where I got to dine this month, with a friend.
I’m especially torn in a French restaurant, on whether to start with a cocktail or wine, because both work as wonderful apertifs. I chose to start with the Hendrick and somewhere along switched to the Boulvaderie. Both were insanely refreshing and strong.
Dinner had to start with the Scallops (which were on special that evening) and the Lobster Thermador Bites. Both were unbelievably delicious.
The Scallops were nothing like I’ve had, cooked with baked beets and grapefruit, and were simply delightful, while the butter poached baby lobster in a sherry wine sauce was simply rich and royal.
Honestly, I’ve never had Baked Goat Cheese outside of a Tapas restaurant. And certainly never in a French restaurant. But the French know their fromage, so I decided to give it a try and loved the spice notes in the thick tomato sauce and with copious amounts of goat cheese to mix into it. The toasted, garlic baguette on the side is always nice to smother on with the dip.
I couldn’t possibly not order something from their raw Fruits de Mer section of the menu, and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was looking good that night. Nothing fancy here, but utterly delicious; large shrimp served on ice with a tantalizing cocktail sauce, satisfied all the taste buds.
We switched it up with the Black Truffle Pappardelle and honestly speaking, I was mostly curious to see what pasta tastes like in a French restaurant. The right amount of French-Italian flavors in this dish, served tender pasta with fresh shaved black truffle, parmesan, egg yolk and black pepper. Think of it as a French take on Cacio e Pepe. You also get a choice of white or black truffle shavings when you order. Next time I’m trying it with the white truffle!
Then came the king of all orders, the Lobster Roll. Another dish you don’t typically find at French restaurants. An open-faced New England split top roll stuffed with poached Maine lobster in a chili mayo, herbs and lettuce. This thing was massive, and obviously filling. French-influenced, but not French portions is what I loved about this restaurant.
I also love that Chef Sheerin defies bland French food and is unafraid to use some spices. Every dish I tried had a smooth kick to it, enough to tickle your senses.
But that’s why you have dessert! And before we could utter the word, Sous Chef Eric Tiglao brought out their duo of desserts to the table, the Chocolate Pannacotta and the Coconut Mousse.
Both were out of this world! True French decadence! We were happy souls, and who wouldn’t be after that meal. A special mention to our server who was cheerful and patient with us. A testament to their great service too!
You simply cannot miss Taureaux Tavern. Come on, take the bull by its horns and get your reservation in!
It has been one hell of a foodie month, and it elevated even more with a visit to the new vision and venture executed under the leadership of the very talented Chef Patrick Russ, called Onward.
Located beneath the Hampton Inn in Rogers Park, Onward offers a unique and light-hearted take on contemporary American cuisine through small and large plates. The environment is modern, social and aimed to make every diner feel special.
This time, I took my boss with me as my guest and we had the most amazing time.
Bar director Vicent Romero personally stopped by to discuss our cocktail course for the night, taking the time to understand our palette and offering suggestions accordingly. He pinned down the perfect cocktails for each of us. He started me off with the Persimmon Margarita, which was also apt for National Margarita Day, that day. Because you know, I take those national food holidays very seriously. My boss, Tom ordered the Basil Cotton with gin green chartreuse, pineapple gum, limejuice, basil and egg whites. Safe to say he did not deviate from it for the rest of the evening.
Chef Patrick came out shortly to say hello and give us a rundown of our dinner that evening. I was so glad to finally meet him, he is most definitely one of the nicest chefs in town, and with an impressive background also. There was just too much good stuff on the menu, so I just asked Chef to surprise us with what he wanted us to try.
You know first impressions are everything. The Crawfish Arancini came out first. These little breaded, fried balls of Etoufee and tarragon were Louisiana food at its best.
The Royal Trumpet Tortelli was next. I have never been a fan of tortellini for some reason, but this dish may have changed that for me, forever. Tender pasta with pecorino and black winter truffle streusel with crunchy hazelnuts. Mushrooms and nuts are two earthy foods that should always go together and be in more dishes.
Our introduction to Onward’s seafood started in the most magical way with the Black Diver Scallops. Three medium sized scallops came on a plate with Aji Amarillo, sweet potato, citrus and corn nuts. The flavors of this dish were unimaginable. The scallops were gone too soon.
The soup of the day was cauliflower, a vegetable I can never have enough of. B ut I’m wary of creamy vegetarian soups because often the consistency isn’t right or the taste is too pungent. This warm, creamy and buttery soup was the perfect transition to our entrees. It had strong tastes of thyme and lemon and every bite so comforting. I must add, that with that, Chef also sent out their house made breadbasket with butter. That whole combination of soup and bread could never go wrong, especially in the winter.
We were making our foray into the mains, and out came the Halibut on special that night. As I always like to try vegetarian dishes also, the Roasted Cauliflower was also sent out. Two large cauliflower heads were nicely done with quinoa, black garlic soubise, pomegranate and Greek yogurt. Vibrant Mediterranean flavors and an entirely hearty dish. Vegetarians rejoice!
We were too full for words, but seeing all the dessert that had just arrived at the table, gave our appetites second-wind. Undoubtedly, my favorite was the Pina Colada-Coconut Tres Leches Cake with rum-roasted pineapple sorbet. All I needed was a beach hat and some sun block and I would’ve been un-phased with the snow outside. As a die-hard chocolate fan, I certainly enjoyed the passion fruit tart with milk chocolate cream, hazelnut praline and chocolate sorbet.
We also had the opportunity to meet Pastry Chef, Kevin McCormick who was previously with Beacon Tavern, where I’ve had his desserts. So I was sold even before trying them, yet these sweet treats again reminded me of his culinary talent.
I was a happy diner, trying to figure out how to stand up and make my way to my car. Everything was incredibly satisfying and it was so nice to see the entire team working in such unison. No wonder the food and service are both seamless at this restaurant.
So if you’re looking for a top-class dining experience where you can kickback and enjoy the ride, Onward is your place!
If pictures speak a thousand words, then you don’t need me to describe the opulence and decadence I experienced at the For The Love of Chocolate Foundation’s Rebel, From Rockabilly to Rock N Roll gala this month.
Needless to say, it was a sweet night. My first time at this event, and I was floored. The exquisite space of the Palmer House Hilton downtown couldn’t be a more perfect setting for an event like this. Imagine a whole floor dedicated just to chocolate! Several different rooms with sets ups, dance floors, bars and boozy milkshake stands.
Rock N Roll was the theme this year and it was entertaining to see guests dressed up in theme. And it was even more wonderful to see guests supporting the foundation’s cause of promoting pastry and baking arts education, as well as creating next generation pastry chefs. I mean, there can never be enough desserts in this world.
Some of my favorite sweet treats at this event were, macarons from City Circle Sweets, chocolate cupcake from Sweet Nouveau, the dolce de leche from Vanille Patisserie, and milkshake from the Dine Amic Group. Stan donuts also had a table, and of course they never disappoint.
Guests, including me, left with treats and candy to take home, and I was lucky enough to take a whole Dark Chocolate Mousse cake with Hazlenut Praline from the Formento’s table, courtesy pastry chef Julia Fitting. Not complaining but safe to say, I had dessert for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week after.
There is no way I’m missing this event next year! Hope I’ve convinced you to go too!
Wow! Where do I even begin describing my dining experience at Eden. While I’ve previously attended events at this West Loop gem, it wasn’t until a menu tasting recently that I discovered the unlimited potential of this restaurant.
First and foremost, they have parking. Yes, you heard me. A restaurant with a parking lot in the city!! May not seem like a big thing for a foodie, but every little bit counts and contributes towards a seamless and stress-free experience. Wouldn’t you agree?
The mural outside their restaurant is also one of my favorites in the city,, as it reflects the restaurant’s philosophy of using only organic and local ingredients. So local, that they even have an on-site urban greenhouse in the back, where they grow their own herbs. Wish more restaurants would strive to do the same.
The space has just a fresh vibe; its modern, chic, and comforting. Open kitchens make me happy, period. And the opportunity to watch acclaimed chefs like Executive Chef, Devon Quinn and Sous Chef, Bryan Collante whip up magic is another add-on to the experience.
Their cocktail program is solid strong, with drinks such as the Elevenses gracing the menu. Earl grey infused gin with lavender orange blossom honey and grapefruit bitters. All drinks seemed to have calming elements and ingredients you wouldn’t expect in a drink, tajin and turmeric for example. And next time I’m definitely trying the Thai Bird Mariachi. What a cool name!
For food, we were lucky enough to try their Winter 2019 menu with newer items recently introduced such as, the Chinese Broccoli and White Asparagus. It was marinated with unagi and cooked with cashews. Could’ve never fathomed those tastes on my own. Also, how do they not overcook the vegetables or oversalt?
I was pleasantly surprised to see an Indian touch to their cuisine with Samosas on the menu, which came an assortment of four with different fillings. The potato and lentil cauliflower were spiced to perfection and the tamarind chutney served along with it was the perfect tangy too.
Chef was nice enough to make us portions of anything we wanted to try from their special Chef’s Wine Paired 5-Course Tasting Menu. Yes, they have one and its only $100 for a lot of food. I can assure you that.
The Ahi Tuna Crudo was enchanting. I could not stop staring at the sheer beauty of its plating. The tuna was very fresh and the hearts of palm with fermented lime flavors added an exotic flavor to the fish. It also had a smoked egg yolk which gave it a pop of color.
The Ricotta Herb Gnocchi was presented in an interesting manner, with a small block of fried ricotta sitting on carrot puree, cultured butter, mushrooms and herbs. All from their garden, I must add .
From their Winter Menu, we also tried the Meagre (Stone Sea Bass). A moist fish with ocean-forward textures ready to take on flavors of the marination. It was cooked with carrot puree, pea leaves and Tokyo turnips. So much yumminess in one dish!
I was too full to try their well-known Wood Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon, but I had to leave something for a return visit. Many other dishes too I saved for next time, because the seafood offerings were plenty.
Dessert came out almost instantly. The restaurant staff must know me well. We had the Pomegranate Chocolate Pavlova and the Pistachio Opera Cake. Both were loaded with fruits and berries in the most delightful combinations. The blood orange sorbet with the cake was crazy delicious and I was sad when it was over.
And while I’m not a fan of ice cream, their very extensive list for uniquely flavored ice creams, sure did tempt me.
I don’t know what else to say, other than that eating at Eden is an experience all foodies must have. Some places you just have to try for yourself, because they’re that good.