Every experience I’ve had at Little Market Brasserie in the Talbott Hotel has involved a surprise. When having their delicious brunch on the outdoor patio this summer (hel-lo smoked salmon on crispy potato hash with cream cheese and capers) I was shocked to know that that the awesome acoustic music coming from inside the restaurant was actually live (the waiter came up and told me when he saw my iPhone foisted into the air, Shazam app frantically swirling and coming up empty..FYI..the singer is Michael Jansen, I later learned, of the Chicago band Mighty Fox). And during my more recent visit earlier this week, an even bigger surprise was revealed when I learned of the bounty of sweet-tooth, trick or treat heaven on a secret sundae bar. OK, maybe it’s not so secret as every Monday night, your vanilla, chocolate or swirl soft serve serves as the perfect blank canvas for the gummy worms, Swedish fish, dark chocolate disks, toasted coconut, candy corn, fresh berries and kiwi, crushed brownie bites, graham cracker crumble, sprinkles, oh god, there was more, and toppings like salted caramel and housemade magic shell. Why this bounty isn’t served nightly is beyond me (OK it’s probably to give the space back to the bar on busier nights), but we couldn’t think of a better way to start the week. All this was after an array of excellent savory comfort food dishes on the menu from mushrooms on toast slathered with shallot marmalade, a corn agnolotti with chorizo, grilled butternut squash with quinoa, and the sent-from-heaven grilled cheese of the month Melts for Meals created by Chef Andrew Zimmerman…somehow, we managed to find room. 10 E Delaware Place.
Category Archives: Best bite
1) Goddess and Grocer red velvet cupcakes. I have always had a weak spot for red velvet, well anything, but the cupcakes here have some sort of hypnotic hold on me.
2). Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, too, but mostly it’s the banana pudding here that rocks my world, as well as the old-school bakery vibe, flourless chocolate cake and more.
3). Speaking of banana pudding, I’m also currently in love with the banana pudding dessert at Fat Rice. I can’t explain its deliciousness, just get it.
4). Key lime pie at Shaw’s. Their two-bite desserts are the perfect guilt-free indulgence.
5). Chocolate chess pie at Hoosier Mama..holy yum.
6). Crème brûlée doughnut from Glazed and Infused. Imagine the crackly shell of crème brûlée over a vanilla doughnut with creamy vanilla curd on the inside. It’s completely redic.
7). The mocha panna cotta from Balena, a explosion of chocolate, banana, hazelnut crunch and brownie.
8). Asparagus flan at Macku…sounds gross, is truly divine. An oldie but a goodie.
9). Sea salt brownie bites at Trader Joe’s. OK, sea salt/chocolate anything.
10). 75% dark chocolate bars of any brand, kind or shape.
Share in the comments what sweet treat you’ll be sharing with your boo, or indulging in solo…
I’m so so glad that Mason jar presentations are still alive and well, from house pickles to chocolate mousse. I recently spotted one at GT Fish & Oyster, used to serve the creamy, soul-warming clam chowder that at lunch comes with a half a lobster roll or tuna blt sandwich and a mound of slaw.
GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells.
Including the obvious, I get pretty obsessed with all things pumpkin this time of year, from roasting and salting the seeds scraped from a freshly carved Jack-o-latern, to sinking my teeth into the pumpkin sticky buns at Floriole Bakery (go soon, before they’re gone!). Floriole is also flaunting a pumpkin layer cake with cream cheese, and I noticed these adorable pumpkin hot cakes at Nookies Too. For pumpkin ales, I am still thinking about the Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumpking Ale I had at Tiny Lounge last fall… I am on the hunt for more pumpkin-laden goodies…any suggestions?
Much like the words “avocado,” “cilantro” and “truffle oil,” the word “celery” on a menu makes my mouth water. Actually, only when spotted on a cocktail menu. Celery is stalking cocktails all over town, showing up in infusions, bitters and garnishes..and not just serving as spoon for a Bloody Mary. The latest I saw was at Carriage House in Wicker Park, where the Low Country Gin Gimlet has gin, sweet pearl-onion dry vermouth (also, yum) and celery bitters. I love the way the ingredient keeps sweetness at bay, and adds a bit of bite and savory-ness. But don’t stop at the cocktails at Carriage House. The modern low-country Southern restaurant is probably my favorite right now, with crispy, crunchy fried chicken thighs smothered in local and served with house sweet potato hot sauce, the low-country boil bubbling over with shrimp, clams, sausage, red potatoes and grilled lemons and the mushroom, truffle and egg with grits and oyster mushrooms were all serious standouts..and we didn’t even get to dig into shrimp and grits, pork and beans or the buttermilk marinated rib-eye. This is modern southern food, and the type that’s not so smothered with gravy and heavy sauces that they take center stage on the plate…you can taste the juiciness of the chicken, the sour of the house pickles and sweet meat of the Carolina shrimp. Besides the cocktails and the menu, I love the vibe in the room which is packed, not huge, and miraculously not so loud you have to yell over your fried green tomatoes. 1612 W. Division Street
So another tasty year is coming to a close, and while my newfound hobby of cooking at home has certainly caused my dining out habits to suffer this year, I definitely had my fill of best bites in Chicago and beyond. It’s so hard to recall them all..but here are the top ten in no particular order…here’s to more delicious bites in 2012!
1. Reese Pieces macaroons by Sweet spot macaroons.
2. Bittersweet chocolate cake with shiitake gelato at Girl and & Goat
3. Baja shrimp bruschetta at GT Fish & Oyster Bar
4. Duck breast at Next, Paris 1906
5. Hors d’œuvres tray at Next, Paris 1906
6. Turkey leg at The Purple Pig
7. Green Day Live juice at Peeled
8. Smoked steak tartare with quail egg at Henri
9. Lamb shank, Central, Las Vegas
10. Salmon rillets, everything bagel at Ardeo & Bardeo, Washington, D.C.
How do I just make a passing reference to dining at Henri and not post some photos? The place had me at smoked steak tartare with a quail egg, and kept me pretty captivated all the way through to the dark chocolate tart. Did I mention we also had cobia gravlax on grain bread all for the three-course prix fixe lunch price of $25? The room itself is elegant without being stuffy, and each dish is dotted with lovely details, from flower petals to dried fruit slices and generous pepper cracklins’. Lunch, dinner, date or just to perch with wine and some Michigan Avenue people watching, I heart Henri, 18 S. Michigan Ave.
A Feast on Fashion luncheon at Balsan in the Elysian had me both drooling over the fall clothes that’ll be available at the soon-to-open Gold Coast location of Perchance boutique, as well as the chocolate parfait I ordered for dessert. Served in a mason jar, silky smooth cool chocolate custard was mixed with thick chunks of chocolate brownies and crispy chocolate candy pieces. Slowly melting over it all was a quenelle of super-fresh housemade mint chip ice cream and a green mint sprig. Of you don’t need an exclusive fashion lunch to dig into this dessert perfection, head to Balsan to dig in and get your drool on…maybe after fall clothes shopping… 11 E. Walton.