Thursday, September 27, 2012

Girl & The Goat

I don't think any other restaurant has as much hype as this place.  I don't think any other restaurant has as crazy a waitlist as this place either!  Yelpers say you need to snag a reservation at least 2-3 months in advance, which is what I managed to.  Buff Bear, now a Chicago resident, said my 8:45 Monday night reservation was a great achievement.  I think he's only been able to eat there even later.  I guess being the restaurant of Top Chef season 4 winner, Stephanie Izard, has a lot to do with all the hype.  I personally was pretty bummed that she beat out Richard Blais to win, but good thing he ended up winning the All Stars season.  

Anyways, the space is pretty large with darks and neutrals coloring the interior.  This large painting really stands out, obviously, and brightens up the joint.  The large googly eyes kinda creeps me out but I love the vibrant colors.  See Fat Gwai, a poor student, took an hour train to meet us here, in the rain no less, so Dumpling Man and I treated him to a dinner here.  After all those years of being poor and having others pay my way, it's nice to do the same for someone else now.

Kohlrabi Salad fennel, evalon, pears, roasted shiitakes, toasted almonds, ginger dressing 
I love eating salads when I go out because someone it's always so much more interesting than the sh*t you get at the local salad bar.  Kohlrabi and pears were definite flavor and textural highlights here.  The almonds added nice crunch too.

Mushroom Ragout sweet potato agnolotti, shroom creme fraiche, capers
Triple F thought the food here was a bit heavy handed with the salt.  The 3 of us argued about the salt level of this dish.  I thought it was on the saltier side, but Dumpling Man thought the salt level was off the chart.  Aside from that, I was intrigued by the flavor profile, which I can't really pin down.  It had a creaminess and tomatoey-ness that reminded me of chicken tikka masala.  The capers didn't help with the salt level.  The dish packed a punch of flavor, but maybe too much so?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Next: Kyoto

Our last trip to Chicago was really highlighted by some of the most delicious food I've eaten in a long time.  This trip back was no exception.  Alinea was probably the stand out restaurant last time for its sheer creativity.  It's sister restaurant, Next, managed to wow us again.  Now if you haven't heard, both restaurants now work on a ticketing system, sort of like buying tickets to a musical or a concert.  You buy them, and then you're stuck with them.  NO REFUNDS.  I guess restaurants lose money on last minute cancelled reservations, no shows, and having to staff someone to and take phone calls and manage the reservations.  I'll admit, I am guilty of making last minute cancellations but I'm a customer and I can do as I please, right?  Grant Achatz (chef/owner) says, "screw you."  I didn't actually think I was going to get a spot at Next, but tickets for Kyoto opened up just a day or two before my trip and BOOM, I was so there!  It helps to be friends with Next on Facebook!

I think I'm too dumb to really appreciate the cerebral experience Grant Achatz is trying to create in all his restaurants.  There was this teeny scroll explaining the theme of the dinner.  All I got from it was fall, Kyoto, tradition, experience.  The rest of it was just too many words.  These days, I can only communicate in abbreviations (CAD, HTN, SDH, ARF, etc).

Kaiseki traditional multicourse Japanese dinner (12 to be exact!)

Corn Husk 

We started off very gently with some simple corn stock.  It was very sweet, very clean tasting corn.  Imagine the juice that comes with canned corn.  It tasted just like that!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012


So on my last trip to Chicago, the city's famous hot dogs and pizza didn't make it to eating itinerary.  I'm proud to say that despite having every meal planned, I still managed to fit in a tasting of Portillo's and Lou Malnati's.  

I really wanted to try Hot Doug's or Franks 'n Dawgs but they were just too far and Portillo's happened to be a few blocks away while I was out with Dumpling Man and his old high school buddy, See Fut Gwai.  Even though it was just 2 hours before our dinner reservations at Next, Dumpling Man and I wanted to see what all the rage was with Chicago and it's hot dogs.

Hot Dog relish, mustard, onions, tomatoes, pickle, sport peppers
I'm not so sure I understand what the big deal is about the hot dogs here.  It was good, but not great.  The noticeable absence of ketchup bothered me.  I just LOVE piling on the red stuff, but I guess that's considered criminal in Chicago.  Dumpling Man was giving me the evil eye as I chowed down on the hot dog since dinner was so soon.  He can be such a dictator sometimes.

Anyways, I'm glad I finally tried a true Chicago hot dog.  I can honestly say I'm quite content with just a good ole Costco hot dog.  I don't need pickles, peppers, and tomatoes on my dogs, just everything else AND lots of ketchup!

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