In case you haven't noticed, there haven't been very many posts on the blog lately. Sometimes the blog suffers from neglect because I am busy with work and sometimes it happens because I am traveling too much. This quiet patch was due to the fact that we haven't had a quiet weekend in NYC in quiet some time. Two weekends ago (Labor Day) we were in Cincinnati for Riverfest (which, incidentally included the most impressive fireworks display I have seen in quite some time) and last weekend we were in Chicago. Thankfully we were in town this weekend and I carved out a few hours today to cook breakfast, post about our travels and to tee up some posts about the relatively few meals we have made recently.
I had a large to-do list for our trip to Chicago and we somehow managed to do check quite a few things off our list. We saw the Bean (pictured above) in Grant Park (which was pretty spectacular), we visited the Art Institute of Chicago and Navy Pier, we did the Chicago River architecture tour, we laughed our way through Second City, visited the Chicago beach at Lake Michigan and then we ate and drank a whole bunch. We probably walked a good 10 miles over the course of the weekend. I really wanted to go to The Girl and the Goat during our visit, but it was impossible to get reservations and we were only there for a short period of time so we skipped it. But I checked out the Eater 38 for Chicago and added a few other restaurants to my list - two of which we managed to hit while we were there. There was one other restaurant from the Eater 38 that I really wanted to visit while we were there, but it was kind of far away and given the time constraints we didn't make it there. But the next time I visit Chicago I am hitting Urban Belly because the menu just looked so phenomenal and I will be making reservations at The Girl and the Goat insanely far in advance just to make sure that I get to eat there.
More pictures, etc. after the jump!
Of the two Eater 38 restaurants we did manage to visit, The Publican was probably my favorite, although my favorite dish of the entire weekend was probably the Baja shrimp bruschetta at GT Fish & Oyster. The flavors were just so vibrant and so perfectly paired. It also really stuck out in a city that mostly serves heavier/meatier cuisine. We also tried their lobster roll, which was tasty, but not as good as the lobster rolls I am planning to indulge in when we visit Maine in a few weeks. Instead of huge, sweet, buttery chunks of lobster their lobster roll featured a lightly-mayonnaised lobster salad on the wrong kind of roll. It was good, but I have had better. However, the giardiniera and the onion straws that came with the lobster roll were pretty delicious. Their tuna poke was fresh, but it was missing something. I really wanted some heat or something with a crispy texture to balance out the sweetness of the mango. It was still good, but not great.
And later that day we visited The Publican, which was absolutely porky and delicious. I wish we had stayed there for dinner, but we went for happy hour and only had the chance to try a few dishes and a few beers. Their little gem salad was the best salad I have had in a long time. The crispy pigs ears added the perfect salty, crunchy element to the salad, and their flavor was nicely offset by the tartness of the buttermilk vinaigrette, the tenderness of the lettuce and the razer thin slices of peppery radish. I loved it. I know the picture looks like nothing special, but you have to try it. We also tried the (half) charcuterie plate, which featured some of the best head cheese I have ever tasted. There was also a really nice juicy pork sausage on there. I thought it was a really nice charcuterie plate - better than most of the ones we have tried in NYC.
Of the other restaurants we visited in Chicago, none of them could quite compare. We were very disappointed in Frontera Grill (Rick Bayless has such a great name and reputation in the industry that we expected it to be much better than it was), liked the brunch and the bloody marys at Cru Cafe and Wine Bar, were completely overwhelmed by the portions during brunch at Yolk, and were pleasantly surprised by the Italian small plates at Quartino. All in all it was a very fun and successful weekend, but I think I might need to just eat some salad and rest my poor feet for awhile...