Happy New Year!
I brought in the 2017 Chicago restaurant game right. While it’s been open and well-reviewed for a handful of years now, I headed to Maude’s Liquor Bar in West Loop for dinner for the first time the other night. The restaurant is dimly lit, small and quaint, fitting about 20 tables in its first floor walk-in space and includes an exclusive-like bar. Known for its cocktails and French-inspired dishes, we decided to sit back, relax and enjoy our first 2017 dinner out at a restaurant in Chicago.
I started and stayed with their Vodka Smash the whole night. Smashes are a fresh, mule-like drink customized with your favorite type of liquor. If you like sparkling wine, my friend loved the French 75, which is one of the three sparkling inspired drinks on the list. There’s plenty of shaken and stirred drinks on the menu plus a respected wine list to keep patrons satisfied.
The food options at Maude’s are incredible and I wish I could have tried everything. We shared the French Onion Fondue, which is a French onion soup like dip with bread. We also had the Braised Short-rib, Scottish Salmon, and Cassoulet. The Scottish Salmon was perfection and my favorite, but the others were quite delish, too. We ordered the highly recommended Lentils for sides along with Brussel Sprouts and they were well received from the party. We ended the night with a Crème Brulee. One of the largest I’ve seen of the dish at a restaurant, I had no complaints.
Overall, the service was really great and this is a fantastic date for a romantic date night out with your significant other or with a group of four.
If I went back to Maude’s Liquor Bar (which I plan to), the other items I’m looking forward to trying are the Croque Madame and the Ricotta Gnocchi.
The hip new diner in Wicker Park has been on my list for up-to a year now – Dove’s Luncheonette. A wildly popular breakfast and Chicago brunch nook, Dove’s Luncheonette has been known for it’s long (but worth it) wait. I lucked out when I had some visitors arrive early on a Saturday morning from out of town before the rest of Chicago was up. We took advantage of the quiet morning and got to Dove’s right before it opened up at 9 am. We weren’t the only early doves – even though we sat right down, the adorable small diner filled up within 15 minutes.
We started with Dove’s House Blend Dark Matter Coffee and the staff kept our delicious cups filled to the top throughout our experience.
Dove has it figured out with its menu of Southern-inspired Mexican options. It only offers a handful of choices and for the most part they all have a spicy twist on a standard menu item. It’s a great way to get people to order outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Think fried egg with brisket, or onions, eggs, and queso.
I ordered the Avocado Toast on multigrain bread with smoked ham and something called an almond-ancho vinaigrette with a side of grits. Perfection!
I will definitely be back!
One of the most talked about new restaurants in 2015 was The Duck Inn situated in Bridgeport. A hop, skip, and a jump from the Chicago White Sox field, The Duck Inn was one of the three Chicago restaurants named to Esquire’s Best New Restaurants List and we had the opportunity to hit the quaint, cozy spot up towards the end of December.
The relaxed, homey atmosphere and attentive staff create a dining experience where time stops and you can forget anything other than the company you are with and truly enjoy your meals.
I’m a sucker for any Lychee drink, so when I saw the Lychee Chuhai cocktail on the menu, I couldn’t have just one. Other drink orders from friends ranged from beers to whiskey on the rocks, and everyone was happy and relaxed.
For dinner, I ordered the Gyros Plate and everything was seasoned and cooked to perfection with all the fixings placed perfectly so you can enjoy your lamb chop, pitas, hummus, and tzatziki both separately and together. The Chicken Thigh and Pasta Carbonara were other popular orders at our table and everyone enjoyed their meal.
My one critique is that I noticed with both my meal and the others was that the portions are pretty small for what you order and pay and you don’t leave full. I’d suggest ordering an appetizer or extra side and dessert to even out the meals.
This past Sunday a few of my girlfriends and I had a jam-packed day of events planned, and what better way to start off a Sunday than brunch? We headed over to Longman & Eagle out in Logan Square. Logan is an up and coming neighborhood in Chicago and is home to some of the hottest new restaurants where rent is reasonable and space is abundant. I heard really great things about Longman & Eagle but knew that they don’t offer reservations and the wait is usually about an hour. We weren’t surprised to hear our wait was one hour and 15 minutes, so we waited outside in this cute waiting area the restaurant had set up. What the wait staff failed to tell us, which we discovered forty minutes into our wait, is that Longman & Eagle has a backbar, with open seating, pastries and drinks, called Off-Site Bar, which wasn’t crowded at all and served exactly what we were looking for: Bloody Mary’s. The bloody mary was perfectly garnished with a beerback and cheddar & pickle stick.
Not long after we had discovered the off-site bar, we were called to our seats. The inside of Longman & Eagle, a farm-to-table restaurant, looks like the mix of a farm house and a ski lodge. Very quaint, cozy and with a mix and match of country chairs for the tables. The menu was so hard to choose from with a variety of egg breakfast plates including salmon benedict, steak and eggs, omelets and quiche, and then soul food including sausage, gravy and biscuits, fried chicken & waffles, and pina colada french toast.
I went with the salmon benedict and ended up ordering the mixed greens on the side. When I was ordering, I saw that one of the menu items had fried plantains on the side and really wanted to get an order of those. Disappointingly, this restaurant (or server) doesn’t customize much and I wasn’t able to try the plantains. The Salmon Benedict was pretty decent, but I wish I ordered the breakfast potatoes on the side instead of the mixed greens, which had barely any taste to them.
From my experience, along with my 9 other friends that were there with me, the soul food route is the way to go. Multiple friends ordered the sausage biscuits and gravy and they loved it, where those that ordered the egg options weren’t as impressed. Stick to the soul food and remember the back bar on your visit to this restaurant my friends!
One of my favorite things to do in my late twenties is try out new brunch spots. If you’ve got a kickin’ bloody mary, or a perfectly cooked eggs benedict, I’ll be there. Awhile back, Thrillist posted a list of some of the best places to brunch in Chicago. I’ve been making my way through that list and just recently I went to Flo. Although it features a New Mexican style menu, what they are known for are their Fruity Pebbles French Toast. I’m typically a savory vs. sweet brunch eater, but when in Rome, right?
Flo Fruity Pebbles French Toast
I can’t compare much as I don’t eat a lot of French Toast, but it was definitely a fun experience having Fruity Pebbles on my French Toast. They also had Cocoa Pebbles French Toast which I was torn on.
Flo itself is a cute little restaurant in West Town with outdoor and bar seating. Because of its size, you’ll definitely have to wait. However, I think the best part of Flo is their free coffee while you wait. Not only was it delicious, it made the wait time much more relaxing!