A few weeks ago I received an email from friend and fellow food blogger, Amanda Topper of The Ghost Guest inviting me to Sip, Simmer and Savor, a Culinary Event Series by the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. The event was being hosted by Boka and featuring chefs Paul Liebrandt and Lee Wolen for a special five-course paired dinner with cocktails made from Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. Boka has been one of those restaurants on my “Must Try List” for years so I immediately jumped at the opportunity to attend and finally be able to recommend the Boka experience.
Most foodies are familiar with the concept of “underground dining,” a secret, member’s only supper club where diners are often only told the theme and location of a pop-up restaurant the day before an event. Now imagine being served a six-course meal from appetizer to dessert consisting of only cocktails, this is Liquor Lab. A few weekends ago I was given the opportunity to experience an evening of fine-dining, liquid-style, courtesy of Liquor Lab’s featured mixologist Mark Darress of The Godfrey.
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.
As soon as I checked out Trellis’ menu I knew Four Corners had taken this place to a whole new level. Far from buffalo chicken fingers and pulled pork nachos (both of which I do enjoy) Trellis’ menu features things like scallops, beef tartar, short ribs and more. Executive chef Sarah McDonnell (Fountainhead, Bistrot Margot) put together a thoughtful, but not intimidating menu. Taste Tester #1 and I tried something from several areas of the menu except for the sides and I can honestly see myself coming back to try more.
Last week I was invited in to try out some new drinks and bites at Amuse, the bar/lounge of the Swissôtel in Chicago. I was pleased to say that the lounge’s décor and lobby placement didn’t make it as depressing as some of my other lone meals I’ve taken in hotel bars while traveling. This time I had two perks, one being that I live in Chicago and could go home that evening, and second that I was lucky enough to have Taste Tester #1 to accompany me.
For a hotel bar I was impressed that the menu, along with the drink specials change with the seasons. Our hostess and waitress for the evening, Mariana was very welcoming and helpful when it came to choosing the dishes and drinks we wanted to try. She was also very modest, the manager had to tell us that she had come up with a bunch of the delicious drinks that were on the summer menu, and had even won the hotel’s summer mixology contest, with her drink being featured on the glass table-toppers. TT #1 enjoyed this drink, called the summer elixir, so much that I didn’t even get to try one sip! I tried a cocktail that had strawberry puree, cardamom, simple syrup and vodka. It was both refreshing on this muggy Tuesday, and equally as delicious.
Before Paris Club Chicago officially opened I had the chance to attend the restaurant’s “practice party”. It was a wonderful opportunity to try a plethora of different things on the menu and I have to say each one was better than the next!
If you haven’t yet had a chance to stop in, and I’m sure most haven’t as it just officially opened two weeks ago, I highly recommend EVERYTHING. OK, well I didn’t have a chance to try everything, but I did get a chance to try a lot of different small plates and even a few cocktails, and I enjoyed all of them.
My friend Anne and I were escorted to our table which was right up against a window, which gave us prime viewing of the entire restaurant. I really enjoyed how open the space was, it was a large restaurant but didn’t feel overcrowded which was nice.