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.
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.
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.
Chicagoans are experiencing the golden age of restaurants and food culture right now as new restaurants with amazing food options continue to open practically every week! Over the past month I’ve had the chance to try several places that are new (or updated) to the Chicago food scene. BBQ, sushi, candy, and lobster all make an appearance and demonstrate just how diverse Chicago can be when it comes to food. Check out my mini-reviews below!
While most college kids spend their money on cheap beer and packets of Maruchan ramen, I was spending mine on sushi rice and ingredients from the one Japanese market in Columbia, Missouri. Needless to say I never developed the same relationship with those comforting noodles as many in my generation did and was not the first to jump on the whole ramen bandwagon when shops started opening up left and right in Chicago. Furious Spoon changed everything for me.
When I was invited to come try Chicago’s hottest new ramen spot I took along my number one soup loving fiancé, Taste Tester #1. This guy LOVES soup and ramen is no exception. We decided to split two different bowls, the Furious Ramen and the Tsukemen along with two Harumaki (Japanese Spring Rolls).
I’ve always said that if I had to pick another era of time in which to grow up in other than the 90’s it would definitely be the 70’s. Everything about the decade – the music, fashion, and far-out attitude make me want to yell “Yea baby!” So I was pretty pumped when the new 70’s themed restaurant the Brass Monkey invited me to dine one evening for dinner.
I loved the mod-designs on both the floor and walls and the yellow and gray color-scheme. The brass lighting fixtures, shimmery ceiling, and soundtrack really transported me to the swinging 70’s. Best of all was the double-sided menu with both a brassiere section and contemporary twists on 70’s classics such as homemade favorites such as sloppy joes and pork chops with applesauce. It made it extra hard to choose just a few items, especially since there was just two of us.
A few weeks ago when it was cold and snowy I had the opportunity to warm up the best way possible; by settling into some great comfort food at a new spot in Lincoln Square called Luella’s Southern Kitchen. I loved the cozy down-home feel of the restaurant from the wood-paneled walls to grabbing your utensils from a kitchen armoire one might picture in an old southern mansion.
The inspiration for Luella’s came from Chef/Owner Darnell Reed’s grandmother who first moved to Chicago from Mississippi in 1943. When Chef Darnell was growing up he loved her cooking and would hang around in her kitchen after school until his mom would pick him up. As he grew as a professional chef, working for Hilton Worldwide in cities such as London, Paris, Miami, and Morocco Darnell continued to turn to Luella for recipes and techniques.
As soon as you set foot inside, you can tell that Velvet Taco is not your average taqueria. This Texas transplant in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago has some of the most creative tacos I’ve tried as well as some other creative and quirky features.
Before getting in line to order I suggest stepping back to take your time looking over the eight sections of the menu: chicken, veggie, pork, beef, fish, egg, sides and cake. I highly suggest coming with someone you’re comfortable taco-sharing with you so you can try as many as possible. I was lucky enough that my sister is a pretty adventurous eater and will pretty much try anything.
One of my favorite things about the current Chicago bar scene is the concept of cocktails on tap. Barley and Brass in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago has joined the likes of Tippling Hall, Yusho, Henry’s Swing Club, and Fish Bar to name a few as some of Chicago’s restaurants and bars that are serving up draft cocktails.
On Monday night I attended a happy hour of a different sort to celebrate the change of Little Goat Bread to Little Goat Bakery. The full bakery unveiled an expanded line of sweet treats like mini pies, cakes, and custom creations.
Our intimate cookie and cake hour was a great way to get some one-on-one time with Stephanie Izard along with executive pastry chef Matthew Rice, pastry sous chef Mini Rafalski and head baker Gina Mangiameli. We chatted about the new sweet treats, frosted delicious mustache cookies for Movember, and even tried some savory options like pumpkin parmesan bread and miso brioche.