Category Archives: great for date

Rhine Hall

I’ve got to say, this weather, well, hurts. But I refuse to totally let go of the absolutely immaculate fall we had as we approach the end of November. OK, there were some tornadoes, strange 60-degree temps and other some such bizarre weather behavoir, but for the most part it was a hot apple cider-red and orange leaf-bright and sunny autumn…my favorite kind. So when I explored Rhine Hall, a new hand-crafted, small batch apple brandy distillery on Fulton a few weeks ago, everything about it felt right. For the most part, Rhine Hall is a family-owned distillery, where Jenny Solberg and her dad crank out apple brandy from 100% Michigan apples (there’s huge wooden boxes in the back to prove it), as well as grappa. You can watch everyone at work from the adjacent tasting room where the smooth crisp brandy is available by the glass, or mixed into fruity or boozy cocktails. The only down side to this place is the limited hours (as much as I wanted it to be, it’s not a bar), only open on Thursdays (5-9) and Saturdays (2-7), but that gives you a enough time to stop in, warm up with some apple brandy and head out with a bottle to keep fall alive just a little longer. Rhine Hall, 2010 W. Fulton.

The Bobos at Rhine Hall

The Bobos at Rhine Hall

The Bixby at Rhine Hall

The Bixby at Rhine Hall

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Arugula gimlet at Odd Duck

Up until last weekend, my all-time favorite gimlet could be found at The Matchbox, and is the only drink I order at the tiny bar. The citrus-y, powdered sugar-rimmed drink is small, but packs a serious punch. But over the holiday weekend I tried out a few places in Milwaukee, and discovered the arugula gimlet at Odd Duck. It was the most interesting cocktail on the menu at the new small plates restaurant in the Bayview neighborhood, and even though the bartender described it as a “grassy gimlet,” I had to try it. With herbal gin, simple syrup, lime juice and muddled arugula, I wouldn’t say it was grassy, but more fresh and herb-y with the bite of arugula I love in a salad or smoothie, The simple syrup added the right amount of sweet, and the lime juice added the right amount of acid. It was refreshing, light and very drinkable throughout the parade of small plates we sampled, from the pork belly pancakes to maple and mustard dressed kale salad. Odd Duck, 2352 S. Kinnickinnic.

Arugula gimlet

Arugula gimlet

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Filed under boozeworthy, great for date, the MKE report

En Hakkore

The En Hakkore sign

The En Hakkore sign


My first experience with En Hakkore, a new Korean restaurant in Bucktown, was straight from a styrofoam box. My friend had gotten carry-out from there and invited me to help her dig into the bibimbap bowl bursting with colorful, fresh vegetables, a rainbow of roe, and juicy bulgogi. Not only was I happy that I no longer had to schlep up to Cho Sun Ok for an authentic taste of Korean BBQ, but I couldn’t wait to go and see for myself what brilliant kitchen whipped up this healthy bowl of vegetables. I gathered some friends expecting a cramped, sit-down spot filled with grease-covered grills, vents and surly servers, but En Hakkore is quite the opposite. It’s an order-at-the-counter kind of place, no booze, with a somewhat limited, but delicious menu of bibimbap, pork belly paninis, sushi rolls and the most ridiculous taco you’ve ever had.
But first the bowls. Literally bursting with over a dozen vegetables (think romaine, cabbage, cilantro, carrots, peppers, and more) serve as the base, while rice, hard-boiled eggs small mountains of tobiko, and a choice of Korean BBQ or pork spiced up with Korean hot sauce are just a few options.
A bevy of color in every bowl

A bevy of color in every bowl


The bowls were fresh, light and very easily sharable (3 of us couldn’t finish 2 bowls!), but the paratha tacos took my heart. I am not the first to gush, but these are so worth the praise. Grilled Indian flatbread wraps around juicy pieces of Korean beef, scallions, cilantro, pickled daikon, lettuce, Korean chile paste and spicy mayo, which pulls all the flavor together. There are plenty of delicious tacos around town, but the sweet, dense-but-bubbly flat bread takes these tacos into obsession mode.
En Hakkore tacos

En Hakkore tacos


En Hakkore, 1840 N. Damen

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Filed under ..and more, great for date, I like to eats

BellyQ Udon Noodle Soup

There’s really never a bad time to dig your spoon/chopsticks/face into a bowl of udon noodles at BellyQ, but over-cast, rainy, when-the-hell-is-spring-getting-here-already weeks are especially ideal. This heaping bowl of goodness (house noodles, pulled pork, cilantro, pork dumplings, bok choy) is also great for the pre-sick, hungover or simply those in the mood for a seriously delicious bowl of Korean noodle soup. BellyQ, 1400 W. Randolph

Udon noodle soup

Udon noodle soup

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Filed under great for date, I like to eats, quick lunch

Mason jars and more at GT Fish & Oyster

Clam chowder in a jar at GT Fish  & Oyster

Clam chowder in a jar at GT Fish & Oyster

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.

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Filed under Best bite, great for date, I like to eats

*Turkey salad at Publican Quality Meats (and an elizabites update…)

Still turkey’d out from the holiday? I personally don’t think it’s possible. It could be the day after Thanksgiving and I still crave the turkey salad at Publican Quality Meats. Yes, I know slabs, links and slices of juicy meat beckon from the cases when you walk in, but this lighter option on the menu blew me away the first time I had it in the spring with fiddlehead ferns, and just a week ago with mustard greens. The vegetables change seasonally, but the base is leafy greens, roasted vegetables, feta, avocado, green harissa, and sliced, smoked turkey. Instead of a just a few strips, it’s a serious mound, more than you would expect on a salad, but perfect for soaking up the tangy green harissa sauce and mixing in with the greens. Plus, the smokey, thick slices complement the bite of the mustard greens and feta and pick up the notes of roast carrots. Can’t avoid the beef, pork belly or lamb sausage at PMQ, at least start with the salad…you won’t be sorry. PMQ, 825 W. Fulton Market
*This asterisk refers to a new post, and a post is something I have been neglecting to lavish you with lately, dear readers. I started this blog in 2008, and posted nearly everyday for years until my actual job, freelance work and life got in the way (naturally). To balance everything out and keep you all salivating, you can expect one post a week, every Wednesday, mostly a mini review about the best thing I ate all week…read, eat, enjoy. Liz

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Filed under great for date, I like to eats, quick lunch

Seafood pancake at Belly Q

Before I had the seafood pancake at Belly Q, Bill Kim’s new Korean BBQ spot in the old 160 Blue space, I had this one at Cho Sun OK, a more traditional Korean BBQ spot up in Lincoln Square. The salty, savory, seafood-laden pancake topped with bits of green onion, calamari and juicy seafood was forever ingrained on my tastebuds, and I haven’t been able to not order it if I see one on a menu. So it was to my delight that Belly Q offers their own version right out of the wood-burning oven, topped with calamari and sashimi and served with black vinegar, sesame soy sauce. The oven lends a nice crisp to the edges, while the rest of the pancake remains fluffy, not-too-greasy and just as tasty as the first one I tried. Belly Q, 1400 W. Randolph Street

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