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: not known for
It’s safe to say that I am a Greek yogurt parfait junkie (Chia seeds, honey, fresh fruit, the works), and am about to venture into trying out some granola recipes (suggestions welcome!). I’m pretty particular about my parfaits, with Milk & Honey topping the list, and any sugary fast food or airport version slowly torturing my soul. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Atomix Cafe of all places added a housemade granola and yogurt to their ever-expanding brunch selections (they have egg sandwiches too!). Being in the hood, I used frequent Atomix more, despite the quizzical look everyone sitting down gives you when you walk in, the very un feng-shui like set-up (fueled mostly by the mess of half-read newspapers and flyers stacked up when you walk in, and the stacks of random boxes in the back) and the uncomfortable chairs. But they brew a mean mug of coffee, make awesome lattes, and now, make their own granola with whole almonds, oats, dried fruit, and topped with coconut. It’s not too sweet or sugar-coated, and has a nice spice to it. I also like that the yogurt is served in a bowl on the side so you can mix it in, add on a banana and generally settle in for a surprisingly good breakfast. Atomix, 1957 W. Chicago Ave.
I had heard that Bernard’s Bar in The Elysian was dark, sexy, hidden and throwback-lounge cool in a retro men’s club kind of way, but I had to finally settle into the chocolate brown-hued bar to also discover that besides their small but expertly crafted list of classic cocktails (and endless whiskey, bourbons and scotch selection) they make potentially the best complimentary bar snack in Chicago: housemade potato chips. Not only could I not eat just one, I pretty much couldn’t not clean the damn bowl out in between sips of a killer old fashioned. I’ve had a good housemade potato chip (Milk & Honey), but these crunchy, house-fried chips managed to have both puffy air pockets and flat crispy edges with the skin on. Not to mention the perfect amount of oil and sea salt, and were served in a classy silver bowl…Bernard’s-style.
Of course, the stand-out old fashioned blew me away as well..making Bernard’s my new favorite downtown bar next to the Pen. Bernard’s Bar in the Elysian, 11 E. Walton
I get a lot of newsletters in my inbox, but there are only a few I read pretty religiously. Vital Juice Chicago is definitely up there, as it offers pretty awesome health and fitness tips, recipes, etc. They recently profiled me as a local Vital Spy, which was totally fun until I realized they didn’t want to hear about heavy-ass custard-stuffed French toast (see Monday’s post), or anything sausage, hot dog or cupcake related, but what they wanted to know was where I go to eat healthy. Honestly, I think the healthiest I have been eating lately is when cooking for myself, but if I had to go out and keep it light, my first thought was veggie-spot Mana Food Bar. I love, love, love it there, from the elotes to the asparagus ravioli and fresh juices. I also mentioned Peeled juice bar (post to come), and Chickpea, an under-the-radar Middle Eastern restaurant mere blocks from my house and with—no crap—the best hummus in the city. But when asked what restaurant I consider surprisingly healthy, I thought of Cho Sun OK. With all of the small plates of vegetables, kimchi, salads, etc, I actually feel great after I have Korean BBQ, even if the meal does involve loads of table-cooked meat. But as I told VJ, it’s about great flavors and fresh ingredients, and leaving a restaurant feeling satiated and not stuffed. For tips on how to do so, or to work your ass off if you do just happen to over-indulge, sign up here.
OK, this mystery post was a little obscure, but once you spot the Stay-Puft marshmallow man at Wicker Park’s Wormhole coffee, you never forget it. Second-time guest blog winner Mark Rumble expressed his love for the 1980s-enrobed coffee shop, most notably for the Castle Grayskull toy (which I had to google, but still don’t get). Mark took a break from his new blog for Chicago men (and the women who tolerate them) ManUpChicago.com, to post on a not known for that I already knew and loved…the cornbread at The Smoke Daddy…
Not Known For: The Smoke Daddy’s Cornbread
Much to my own detriment, I’m a sucker for all things spicy. So whenever I see something on a menu that would typically not be spicy, but through the miracles jalapeños it has been made so, I cannot resist. (For proof of this, see my last guest post where I raved about Beans and Bagels’ jalapeno cream cheese.)
One of my favorite jalapeno-enhanced dishes is undoubtedly The Smoke Daddy’s cornbread. I’m not a cornbread connoisseur or traditionalist, I just know what I like: a gooey, buttery and tad bit smokey piece of cornbread. The Smoke Daddy delivers on all those fronts. But because they are geniuses, they also add little pieces of jalapeño in the cornbread. It makes for a fantastic, extra jolt of flavor and spiciness, enough to make you consider ordering two sides of it.
Now this concluding sentence might sound sacrilegious, but it’s true: If you ever decide to skip The Smoke Daddy’s barbecued meat and just indulge in several pieces of their cornbread, it’d be totally justifiable. The Smoke Daddy * 1804 West Division St., 773.772.6656
Besides their great outdoor street-side patio, pretty decent ribs, smoked mac and cheese, three types of house-seasoned fries and pulled pork miniwiches on the menu, I recently discovered Brownstone Tavern’s skillet cookie. It takes two spoons to conquer an over-sized chocolate chip cookie freshly baked in a cast iron skillet and topped with French vanilla bean ice cream, caramel and chocolate, especially when melted together. 3937 N. Lincoln, 773.528.3700.
The Portland posts are not done! I promise. I just had to share this treat I saw on the counter at Boudin Bakery in Yountville, Calif. over the weekend. Boudin has locations all over CA, and they are know for their San Francisco sourdough bread, European hearth bread, seasonal tarts, and more. But I discovered and fell in love with one of their packaged items I like to call Neopolitan ice cream, um, in Rice Krispie Treat form. Chewy, soft rectangles of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla layered brilliantly together. Yes, as good/as looks.