Blew into Chi-town for the week and visited some incredible restaurants, along with excursions to the zoo, aquarium, planetarium, museums, Second City, Hamilton, Lyric Opera and the Symphony Center. Oh, and Wrigley Field. Here’s a run down of some of the top food encounters:
Le Colonial | 57 E. Oak Street | LC’s new digs on Oak Street is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast neighborhood. This is Chicago’s famed Vietnamese experience and they do not disappoint. We were joined by Nate and Fran Kipnis and Joe and Diane Barrett (Nathan and Joe from NextHaus Alliance) and ran through much of the menu. OMG. The spring rolls (Cha Gio) with a hit of mint, the char-grilled Berkshire ribs (Suon Nuong), and seafood cervichice with bay scallops, gulf shrimp and avocado (Do Bien Tai Chanh) were just a few of the highlights. Absolute perfection. Get there if you can.
Blue Door Kitchen and Garden | 52 W. Elm Street | This cute and well run restaurant, sporting a large outdoor dining space, was a total home run. Crab cakes that were as good as it gets set the right mood as we settled in for an evening of rustic homage to the classics. The buttermilk fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes were show stoppers, moist and crunchy and downright finger-lickin’ good. Whether you swing by for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will enjoy some of the best cooking this side of amazing. Get there if you can.
Chicago Q | 1160 N. Dearborn Street | There is BBQ, then there is the Q. Do not be fooled by imitators and posers. If you want the absolute best BBQ in the Windy City, get your butt down to Chicago Q. And don’t mess around, go right for The Pit Boss Platter – a hot link, pulled pork, 3 ribs, prime brisket, and pulled chicken. Get the mac-n-cheese and cole slaw (both are unbelievable!) and wash it all down with The Man, the fantastic IPA by local brewer Aleman. Get there if you can.
La Storia | 1154 N. Dearborn Street | It is difficult to put into words just how wonderful this culinary journey is, and how the dining table becomes a canvas used to paint the fundamentals of Italian cuisine. The Orata – confit fingerling potatoes, olives, red onion, pine nut and sauce genovese – is just one of the spectacular expressions you should experience at this charming restaurant. Get there if you can.
Somerset | 1112 N. State Street | Chef Lee Wolen has created something wonderful at this Gold Coast establishment. The marinated hamachi crudo with rhubarb, snap peas, and spring onions and the oysters with apple and yuzu kosho vinegar are perfect starters. The wood-grilled Mediterranean bass with olive tapenade, wax beans and cauliflower was magnificent. Get there if you can.
Margeaux Brasserie | Waldorf-Astoria Hotel | This is Michael Mina’s classic, French dining experience reminiscent of 1920’s Paris. Offering traditional brasserie fare and exceptional service, with exceptional seafood and a wine list that is filled with gems from Napa to Bordeaux. Highly recommended.