Thursday, February 23, 2012

Au Cheval

Opening night at Au Cheval was a pleasant experience. Like it's sister restaurants Gilt Bar and Maude's it is dimly lit with rich, classic decor. The music is also a nice fit: anywhere from jazz, to 60's rock to contemporary DJ tracks. It is quite a nice synthesis that Brendan Sodikoff has carved out for himself and his partners.
Let's talk about the contemporary Diner (yes Diner) experience that they are shooting for, shall we?
As the picture shows above, my guest and I started out the fries with a fried egg on top with rich/creamy dips. Was a nice rich fies plate that you would expect from a Belgian restaurant. yeah, ok start.
Second was a rather large pile of mixed greens drenched in salt. If that was what they were going for, that was it. Too much!
Last we had the in house made Bratwurst with garlic and potatoes. I have no complaints when it comes to dishes like this. Would I order it again from here, probably not. I would move on to other plates.
Their other selections are nice. Foie Gras with eggs, Asian Fried Chicken, salmon. They have a few dishes that would make you want to go there a few more times. The 30 beer they have on tap are great. The mixed cocktails they offer paired down but quite good.
Over all I really like the aesthetic and concepts. Over-priced, I would say yes. But running business, and particularly a restaurant business with little nuances, is not definitely not cheap. Go try it out for yourself. Au Cheval is at 800 w Randolph.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flo Restaurant on Chicago (Brunch Menu)

After hearing about Flo's excellent brunch menu for the past few years from a respectable food friend, I had to finally stop driving past it to see what I personally thought. When walking in you get a sense that there is some care from the ownership/management about it's ambience: the music, art, light, customer satisfaction (their chatter) and general scent of the place. To put it simply: Flo is decent. It was pretty much what I expected: medium to low priced semi-comfort food in a relatively pleasant environment. Sort of what Bite restaurant was before it's recently revised somewhat uppity brunch menu. FYI-- I'll take the sloppy Eggs Florentine with crispy swine and home fries over a newer, "cleaner" version with it's hockey puck of a hash brown. But hey, may be that was a survival tactic on their part....Any Ways
If we are doing brunch we need bloody Mary's! Again, to be quite honest, these are very ordinary. Three two choose from: one spicier than the other?? Who cares about the subtlety!! Give me a good assortment of groceries (olives, cheese, salami, etc) jammed into the damn 12 oz's! Or at least when I ask, pull some shit out of the fridge and charge extra. Don't stand their like a confused dog that just been shown a card trick. 
 On to the food....
The Challah French Toast was alright. That I believed they called a Brazilian or something? An assortment of Strawberry's, raspberries and Blueberries were set up top an egg battered bread mound of goodness; covered with a Vanilla syrup. I had them add a Banana out of fear of a diabetic convulsion. OK, not bad. 
 The slathered breakfast burrito was nice. The usual: eggs, cheese, black beans, sour cream (that we added) and hot ranchero sauce. The potatoes could have been cooked a bit more. Just the slightest bit chewy but seasoned well so that there was some harmony to the spicy flavor of the burrito. 
 Again, I think most of the items off the menu are for all intents and purposes bordering on comfort food. Nothing more, nothing less. Should and could a breakfast burrito be made or cater to a high end dining crowd? The food itself was created out of ingredients to fill one's gut quickly and cheaply. With that, and whatever else I may have given you, give Flo a shot. Just know that you will be eating the quality of a c to c +... and there is nothing wrong with that. I have and loved eating far worse. ;) Catch ya next time, JCB


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gibson's Steakhouse

I have to say for the years I have been going to Gibson's Steakhouse on Rush Street I have enjoyed it. It was probably the third steak joint that had been to in the "Viagra Triangle" District of Chicago. Why Viagra Triangle? It becomes pretty obvious the moment you step foot into the district of this concrete jungle. Middle to Older men pull up in their over-priced European automobiles, throw money around and try to charm their way into the pants of women of all ages. It's fun to watch. Hell, a few times I have found myself driving some woman's white Mercedes sports car to her home in River North. Hey, who hasn't, right?? Well, I'm not sure my dinner, bar tab was as expensive as those gentlemens, but I digress...Any ways, lets talk about the food, because that's why you checked out this blog.
Well, let's face it, a mark of a good steak joint is their martinis. Mine always needs to be shaken with the a nice layer of ice on the top with a string of blue Cheese olives ready to be consumed after a stiff gulp  of an icy, yet simple Grey Goose. Hold by the stem because the conical of the glass must be cold. Check!!
 Two, what is their seafood selection? DO they have a nice sampler platter  with seared tuna, large jumbo shrimp or prawns. Maybe a nice lobster tale?? Maybe I'll even do a line of Wasabi just to awaken my senses?! Ok, I like this!  
 Well, for this evening, I was keeping it simple: Grey Goose martinis for my guest and I and some Filet Mignon mini-sliders with some subtly fried freedom fries. If that wasn't enough, perhaps a side of blue cheese to dip the fries in. OK, I like it! Gibson's has really good steaks, good service. Would I say the best, no, I personally like Morton's on Rush, Tavern on Rush. But they serve a purpose of representing moderately priced somewhat pricey Chicago Steakhouses. To me the older "established" steak houses such as Eire Cafe as well as Gene and Georgettis barely hang in there with their quality. And their sides could have been taken from a Hungry Man or Swansons microwaveable container .

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Letizias Bakery

I have been going to Letizia's for over 10 years; since they were a little storefront with a few tables and chairs in the back. Their food is a little over-priced due to the "quality", fresh ingredients. However, the quality of the muffins, pizza, bagels is fairly solid: Poppyseed muffin and everything bagel toasted twice. Their chocolate chip cookies are delicious, but an entire one is way too rich. Go for the raspberry/chocolate cookies. Yes! Coffee is a bit a bit too thin tasting and not 100% satisfying. DO it!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Great Lakes pizza

This is for three pizzas. Yep, good thing I'm paid to do this for a living ;))

Great Lakes Pizza

Bacon, creme fraiche and onion. Yeah, alright

Great lakes pizza

Spinach, cheddar and garlic. Eh, pretty goot

Hopleaf....Da Beersz

Hopleaf an oldie but goodie. Get your seat early, because it fills up way too quickly. After this, Great Lakes Pizza!