Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chicagoland Culinary Adventures

Well, they weren't all that adventurous. I didn't spend much time getting to eat any Chicago classics such as Italian beef, or deep dish pizza*, or Ed Debevic's. Worst of all, I never made it to the Cupcake Gallery. I still had plenty of good food. What was most important was that I had some quality time with Kevin's brother and his family.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon. We had lunch at The Claim Company at the Northbrook Mall, a short drive from Kevin's brother's home in Deerfield. It's a fairly ordinary Tex-Mex place not really worthy of a full review.

That evening we headed into the city to watch a live taping of Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me. It's even better live than it is on the radio. What's great is the hosts are very obliging and do question-and-answer sessions at the end, as well as take time to sign autographs and pose for photos, as Peter Sagal did for us.

We had dinner after the show. Kevin's brother Bob chose The Italian Village, a restaurant close to the theater as it was quite late once the show was over. It wasn't a restaurant he loved as he said it was "touristy". I guess he knew what he was talking about since I had read about it in one of the tourist magazines in my hotel room! It contains 3 separate dining rooms, one one each floor. The one where we had the reservation, Vivere, closed early that night, so they switched our table to The Village upstairs.

The Village is pretty much standard red sauce joint. It's a bit kitschy. Here is the back wall.

Our booth was in this little open room.

My meal was a stuffed chicken breast. It was supposed to be stuffed with sausage, cheese, and prosciutto. On the good side, the chicken was beautifully tender. As for the stuffing, it was a bit bland. It tasted just like the chicken. The sauce was decent, but not inspiring. The fettuccine alfredo that came with it was almost flavorless.

For dessert Kevin and I split a piece of Italian rum cake. Once again, a bit uninspired. Not enough rum. Maybe it's just the hometown loyalty talking, but the red sauce joints in New York do this one way better.

The next afternoon we went to the Chicago Symphony and saw Pierre Boulet conducting pieces by Bartok and Stavinsky (FIREBIRD!) as well as one of his own compositions. We had a late "lunch" (4PM) at the RL Grill.

First clothes, then home decor, now food!

Speaking of kitsch, this place is just unbelievable. This goes into the dictionary under "Trying Too Hard."

Come on Ralph! Your name is really Ralph Lifshitz and you were born in the Bronx. I don't buy the Old Money Wasp thing.

But the important part is the food of course. I started with a lovely charcuterie plate. I shared this with Kevin's sister-in-law and they were kind enough to arrange it nicely on two plates.

We had two kinds of salami, coppa, two kinds of pate (chicken and mushroom) and a delicious homemade mustard.

My entree was a chicken hash topped with poached eggs.

This only had one problem with it. See the green? It didn't warn me on the menu, but this dish was loaded with PEAS! I had to de-pea the whole thing before I could eat it, which wasn't easy. It was quite tasty, although probably not worth the effort of de-pea-ing.

Some sides of dauphinaise potatoes were passed around. They were really good too.

This was dessert. Yes, it was as good as it looked.

The next morning we had breakfast with Kevin's sister-in-law and nephew at The Eggshell Cafe. I wish I had brought my camera. This place is breakfast heaven.

That afternoon we went back to the city for Girls Day Out and a performance of Mama Mia, but for our final night we were back in the suburbs. We went to the Stoney River Steakhouse in Deerfield. My brother-in-law chose this place because a waiter he knew from The Palm works there now. There used to be a Palm where The Claim Company is now. He misses it. He claims Stoney River has bad service, but keeps going back anyway.

We went with a large group of friends.

One of them offered up his lamb chop appetizer for a photo.

I had a delicious spanikopita, which came in a bed of tomato-chardonnay sauce (I don't know if it's sacrelige to serve spanikopita that way or not, but it was good). I also shared one of those lamb chops, as you can see on the side of the plate.

I opted for a small filet for my entree. Filet is something I need to have nice and bloody. (Sadly, my BIL believes in buying pieces of expensive filet and ordering it well done, which makes me alternately cringe and weep.) I told the waiter, "Take it off the heat when it stops mooing." I think they did a good job of following my instructions. The caramelized onion mashed potatoes that came with it were out of this world.

These potatoes au gratin made it around the table all evening. Very delicious.

Dessert was cappuccino creme brulee. I certainly ran the gamut of all sorts of desserts this weekend.

I had a fantastic time in Chicago and want to go back soon. Maybe I'll hit a few more food institutions.

*I'm not that hearbroken about the pizza thing. Chicago-style pizza isn't my thing. I'm a New Yorker. Pizza should be FLAT.


Bunny said...

Well girl it sounds like you had a blast in Chicago! The food sounds amazing, but you you know me I love my desserts!! I'm with you pizza needs to be flat!!

Maria said...

Wow, what fun! And lots of tasty food too!

Bellini Valli said...

I haven't been to the "windy" city in years so thanks for taking me on this armchair travel.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

New food is one of the best things when travelling! I'm now craving capuccino creme bruléé, go figure!

The Duo Dishes said...

What LA needs is some good pizza! It's not fair. Oh well, flat, crispy,'s all good. Looks like you had a fun trip!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love creme brulee. And steak. And pizza. Though I've never had deep dish pizza.

Sue said...

I so agree with you about Chicago pizza. Flat is the way to go.

It sounds like a great time, but you didn't say if you were freezing the whole time.

Emily said...

I'm glad you had a good time! I'm jealous of all of this delicious looking food. Especially that slice of chocolate cake. Mmmm