Hutch Brunch in River North

Upon graduating from college I found the existence of a magical new meal called “brunch.” Growing up our family was always up by 9:00 a.m. on weekends thus necessitating “breakfast” and in college I slept well past noon. But the combination of post college partying on Lincoln Avenue with the internal clock of a 7:00 a.m. weekday wakeup soon found me in the 10:00-11:30 a.m. weekend brunch zone and it was glorious! Seven years later I am still a big brunch fan and there are more and more fantastic options than ever before.

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Persona Pizza Chicago

If I was forced to choose one food item, and this one thing would be all I was able to eat for the rest of my days, I feel pretty comfortable saying that pizza would be the way to go. You can go NY style, thin crust, deep dish, marinara, pesto, meat lovers, veggie; the options go on and on. Just as your choices of toppings are never ending, in Chicago your choices of where to order your pizza from can seem endless as well. There are the old staples we all know and love, be it the deep dish spot you take your family when they are in town, or the spot in your neighborhood that is perfect on a cold winter evening. But where to go, when you are in rush before a meeting, hungry because you forgot to eat breakfast, or want to grab something tasty for home as you depart work for the weekend? Persona Pizza, located right in the loop on Washington and LaSalle is your go to for quick, delicious pizza.

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Maker’s Mark and Longman & Eagle

Post written by Sarah Callahan, Stephanie’s sister and the current Chicago food correspondent!

This March, I was thrilled to attend an event that brought together two of my favorite things, delicious bourbon and the exceptional Chicago dining scene. Maker’s Mark collaborated with Longman & Eagle bar and restaurant to host an intimate dinner that I was lucky enough to be included in. In addition to this stop in Chicago, Maker’s Mark traveled to three other cities across the United States, selecting individual, unique restaurants that complement the flavors of Maker’s Mark, to host these thoughtful drinking and dining experiences.

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New Menu Alert! Derby Chicago

Post written by Stephanie’s sister, Sarah Callahan, the current Chicago food correspondent!

Over the past several years since graduating college, my sister and I have been frequent visitors to Derby in Lincoln Park. It is our go-to spot to band together with fellow Mizzou alumni and cheer on the University of Missouri Tigers to victory. Therefore, when Derby reached out and asked me to try some of their new Southern inspired menu items, I was more than happy to pop by for a visit.

Derby, a bar under the Big Onion Tavern Group umbrella, sets itself apart from typical bar food by offering approachable Southern inspired food items with a modern twist. You may initially notice that several of Derby’s menu items are staples at all of the Big Onion restaurants and bars, like their mouthwatering skillet cookie, loaded nachos (so much excellent cheesy goodness!!) and their freshly baked Bavarian pretzel.

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Our Food Favorites in 2015

The bread bar at Baker Miller in Chicago

Post by Taste Tester #1

2015 was a tough year for us to eat all the great food options we desired. More and more delicious options continue to open around Chicago, but at the same time the goal was to look good for wedding pictures! Eating a little less pizza, more salads at lunch and a better workout regimen allowed us to still enjoy some great food this past year. This list isn’t necessarily what was the hot new opening or the best new chef; it’s a mix of what we enjoyed, brought smiles to our face and overall just some of the BeyondExpecTasetions favorites!

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Chicago Food Winter Roundup

brew lights a yearly beer event at lincoln park zoo

Between Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Years the past couple of months after the wedding have been packed with eating! Between planning and dieting I really had to put the food blog on pause and it’s been a lot of fun catching up with foodie friends the past couple of months! During my forced blogging break I really learned how to eat in moderation better as well as recognize that you don’t have to attend an event every night to stay in the loop. Here’s a recap of some of the restaurants I tried and events I attended this winter season since becoming a Mrs!

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Lure Izakaya- Japanese Small Plates

Lure Izakaya entrance in Lakevew

Being a bit of a neighborhood homebody, I’m always excited when a new restaurant opens up in East Lakeview (ex. Stan’s Donuts, YAY), especially when it’s Japanese. Although Lure Izakaya isn’t a sushi restaurant, I’d been looking forward to trying their Japanese small plate’s style menu since it opened in late July and was lucky to be invited to have a meal there.

Lure chef/owners Kee Chan (Strings Ramen) and Macku Chan (Macku Sushi) have created a nine part-menu showcasing individual cooking styles like Nimomo (steamed), Yakimono (grilled), Kobachi (cold), Shiru Mono (soup), Ko-No Mono (pickled), Agemono (fried), Suno Mono (vinaigrette), Gohan (rice), and Mizumono (dessert). The reasonably priced pick-and-choose style menu allows diners to create their own kaiseki- usually an elaborate, costly affair, consisting of 10 to 14 chef’s-choice courses. There’s also a full menu of cocktails, sake, beer, and wine.

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Farmhouse Chicago Showcases Local Cuisine

This summer Taste Tester #1 and I had a goal to be more supportive of the local food producers by trying to cook with as many local foods as we could. Nearly every Saturday we made the trip to the farmer’s market to pick up fruits, veggies and other fun items we could use to cook with for the week. I had heard about how Farmhouse Chicago operated their entire restaurant with this same goal. I was very excited when they reached out to me about attending a dinner made from all local foods. Farmhouse really proved fresher is better!

The five course meal featured not only local food, but also Midwestern beer and cider pairings to complement each course. One thing I loved about Farmhouse was that in addition to supporting local farms in the Midwest, the ingredients for the cider come from their own farm, Brown Dog Farm, which has over 140 apple, cider apple, pear, peach and cherry trees. In addition to local food, their dining room (tables, chairs, bar, etc.) is made from repurposed materials from other Chicago area bars and restaurants.

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10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Charcuterie Platter

Earlier this week I stopped by Eataly to have Cheesemonger, David Malzahn show me how to put together the perfect charcuterie platter in honor of prosciutto week. David was super knowledgeable and shared some of his top tips regarding putting a perfect cheese board together that will please everyone!

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss at JuiceRX

There’s a new “juicery” in town and they have some of the most unique juices and healthy food items I’ve ever tasted! I’m pretty notorious for choosing meat and cheeses over fruits and veggies, but JuiceRX on Wells St in Old Town is working on changing my tune. Besides having fresh-pressed juices, elixir shots, and cleanses they also have the best damn kale chips I’ve ever tasted.

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