September 28, 2013

Four Restaurant Week

I had a really great restaurant week that I wanted to share.  Sometimes I get into a rut, going to the same places over and over which is fine and a perfect way to develop a sense of community in your neighborhood.  It is good to blend this sense of routine with exploring new places and in a city like Chicago, the choices are endless.  Here are four restaurants (I know…I go out a lot)  I went to this week that sparked my sense of foodie-venture:

2728 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647


Strange name, wonderful restaurant!  Free parking abounds in this Logan Square location.  I almost turned around as I passed 90 Miles Cuban CafĂ©  because it’s one of my favorite spots in Chicago, but I pushed on and found a new gem.  The front desk is a giant stump of wood with bark on it and the hostess was so lovely and helpful.  When I asked if the parking really wasn’t metered she response, politely: “I’m not sure, I ride a bike” – how Logan of her.  We sat outside, though we’re at the time of year where it’s chilly at night, and they offered us blankets if needed.  Our server was attentive but gave us space and was knowledgeable and confident about the wine and food menu.  It was Burger Night which means you get a burger, giant beer and after dinner bitters shooter for $15.  Not bad – two of our party took advantage of this.  My friend and I split the roasted chicken (awesome) and the smoked cauliflower (tasted like a campfire).   The cuisine is listed as “Modern European” and I’d agree with that.  My favorite thing about the meal, besides the ambiance and great service was the wine I ordered (you know I’m a snob for Washington wines):  Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Truth & Consequences, Columbia Valley, WA.  Spicy and bold but smooth, it tastes like cranberries and Christmas.  What a great wine for $7.  There was a big birthday party going on in the back of the restaurant that looked very fun.  I suggest this place for a date night or group on a special occasion.  Reservations strongly recommended. Closed on Tuesdays!

2537 North Kedzie Blvd Chicago, IL 60647

Also in Logan Square, Lula is a sweet diner with gourmet food and an energetic vibe featuring farm to table Americana cuisine.  I arrived early for a glass of wine at the bar sitting next to a dude waiting for his boyfriend to arrive, a young woman doing some work and eating dinner by herself and a photographer at the end of the bar taking pictures of beverages with his fancy camera.  The place is mostly lit by candlelight and playing ethereal music; I could stay here for hours – and we did.  Seating includes the bar and small tables in the front room, larger tables and benches in the back room and an extensive outdoor patio.   We split the butter roasted radishes (good, but slightly bitter, unique), my friend had the quail and I had the summer veggie bowl.  At the end of the meal, I apologized for nabbing every single bite of mine without sharing, but it was SO good…I had to eat it all.  Beans and roasted veggies over corn pudding topped with chevre:  yes please.  Our manly server was lovely and the support staff was attentive – so attentive that I had barely finished my last bite before she whisked the plate away.  This place also serves brunch and I bet it would be great.  I suggest this place on a romantic date night – it is fairly intimate, quiet, a little expensive and unique with high quality food presented beautifully. 

3632 N Pulaski Rd Chicago, IL 60641

I almost don’t want to let this secret be known because it is so amazingly weird and special that I want to keep it all for myself.  Last night, though, I discovered that it has been revealed as there was a raucous 30-something birthday party of about 15 people going on in the bar usually reserved only for Avondale Italian-Americans with a fondness for accordion music.  This place is really bizarre and would never exist in a place like Seattle.  Maybe I’m so fond of it because it represents a true Chicago experience to this outsider.  We always experience 25% tip service, as we did last night with the busy ladies so attentive and friendly.  The bar has great energy with lots of warm booths to sit in as the blonde accordion player with his drum machine and keyboard he plays with his right hand on occasion serenades the group to hits like Margaritaville, Brown Eyed Girl and Mr. Piano Man.  The menu is extensive, authentic American-Italian fare.  Before the meal, the brought out fresh bread and a plate of mashed roasted garlic with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes:  dangerous!!  We split a dinner salad and order of baked Gnocci and still had enough left over to take home.  The Gnocci was perfectly salty, savory, cheesy and light – I would order it again in a second.  I can’t wait to go to this place in the winter and since it is walking distance from my house, I’m in trouble of becoming a serious regular.  As the accordion player says:  Yea, baby!”  

Roses Wheat Free Bakery  
2901 Central St.  Evanston, IL 60201

What a lovely place to meet my gluten-free friend, Elyse Wagner of My Kitchen Shrink!  This little gem in Evanston boasts cases of beautiful wheat-free baked goods.  I had to wait in line to order my salad (they have a full lunch menu including salads, soups, wraps and sandwiches) because they were so busy.  The food we had while catching up at a table outside in the sun was fresh and large-portioned for the price.  The server was very attentive, checking on us often, and we ended up staying for hour.   I would certainly come here again for lunch (they close at 5:30) or to order a beautiful birthday cake. 

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