Category Archives: quick lunch

Corned beef hash at Jam

The salty/sweet craving dilemma I often encounter at brunch isn’t a problem at Jam on Damen. Their special scone or muffin is usually amazing, or I just get an order of the malted custard French toast flecked with crunchy pink peppercorns on the side and call it a day. But the main salty event that eclipsed the sweet dishes few weeks back was the corned beef hash. Arranged on a plate almost too pretty to eat, the house-made corned beef is served with a rosemary-topped celery purée and potato, portobello, onion and tomato hash hiding in a cup and topped with a sunny-side up egg. Jam, 937 N. Damen, 773.489.0302

Corned beef with egg and potato hash and celery purée

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Mini desserts at Shaw’s Crab House

Dessert at lunch can be a tricky ordeal, especially after you fill up on sushi, crab legs, shrimp and soft shell crab sandwiches at Shaw’s Crab House. So I love that the restaurant offers three-bite wee offerings made in-house like raspberry pie, Key lime pie, chocolate layer cake and crème brulée, so you can have your five desserts, and eat them too. Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard, 312.527.2722

Mini Key lime and raspberry pie

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Urban Burger Bar

Urban Burger Bar chalkboard sign

Cupcake overload? I’m thinking this city had been hit much harder with burger buzz. Burger restaurants, bars, eateries, windows, carry-out take-outs, bar menus, $5 lunch specials…no truck (yet), but it’s the feast du jour and I love it. OK, I will admit, I am not a huge classic hamburger person, but when a menu like the one at the new Urban Burger Bar has tuna sashimi burgers, turkey burgers with dried cranberry chutney with peppered bacon and chicken burgers with pesto aïoli, I am overjoyed with options. Since this new spot opened last week, I will admit I have been there three times, but it’s also dangerously close to my office…so it won’t be long before I scarf the whole menu…or maybe just this. The tuna sashimi burger…

Tuna sashimi burger

You never know what you are going to get when it comes to tuna burgers, but when I see accompaniments like spicy cucumber slaw, eel sauce (hello??), pickled ginger aïoli, I know it can’t go wrong. And it doesn’t. The tuna patty is moist, delicious, sweet and sour, the bun buttered and slathered with mayo. But of course, most people popping into UBB will be doing so for some real meat, the Tallgrass beef burger, the High Hog stacker with barbecue pork, bacon, ham and white Cheddar, and the Fa-Getta-Bod-It, prosciutto, fried egg, fresh mozzarella, tomato and mayo…fried egg…um, yeah, yum.

The For-getta-bod-it...in daylight

The rest of the menu at UBB is equally as delish, especially the specialty fries; truffle, sweet potato, Cheddar, green bean, panko-crusted zucchini and holy hell…tempura battered portobellos…

Tempura mushrooms..damn this came out dark, but trust me they are still good

And last but not least, UBB shakes things up in the form of cheesecake, malted milk ball, banana Nutella and other hand-spun shakes served in a tall glass…

Malted milk ball shake

As if a malted milk ball shake wasn’t enough, throw in an awesome beer selection, large bar, 8 house-made sauces for various dipping purposes, outdoor seating and very close proximity to the new Apple store and you can see why multiple visits to this neighborhood newcomer would be the norm. 1578 N. Clybourn, 312.255.0055.

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

On the table: Atwood Cafe

2 wine glasses, 2 water glasses, 2 plates, 4 forks, 2 knives, 2 napkins, salt and pepper shakers, paper, tablecloth. Atwood Cafe, 1 W. Washington, 312.368.1900

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Portland street carts

Blackened burgers with bleu cheese, turmeric oil marinated catfish, broccoli rabe, copa, and fried egg salads, Stumptown coffee…these are just a few excuses for my blogging lag-time. Just back from a whirlwind street-cart-coffee-voodoo-doughnut-eating-and-yes-I-went-hiking-too adventure in my new second favorite city outside of Chicago, Portland. I’ll be posting photos and stories from my adventure over the next week or so, so please enjoy, comment, drool and then get yourself there as soon as possible. To start, I bring you Portland street carts, set up all over the city with independent vendors dolling out everything from tacos to baked potatoes and breakfast sandwiches. Asian food is big (I saw Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese carts on the same downtown block), as is Mexican and random concepts like pulled pork sandwiches, grilled cheese and Czech cuisine. I love street cart dining, and hope Chicago can one day, somehow adopt this exciting street cart culture. I will say that the carts have funky hours (closed Sundays?), perhaps too many dishes that seem the same, and I didn’t love everything I tried (a $5 Korean taco had hardly any Korean beef stuffed inside, and an overabundance of kimchee-soaked slaw), but I pretty much ate the $4 blackened chicken sandwich with bleu cheese from Brunch Box cart in three bites, and loved the $6 curry chicken from a Thai cart. Either way—agonizing decisions aside—the carts are fun to peruse, and seem to pop up all over the city.

The People's Pig fine pork sandwiches


Swamp Shack


Brunch Box Cart..burgers and breakfast sandwiches!


Yeah, so I loved this..sign at Brunch Box burger cart


Yes you can! The black and bleu burger from Brunch Box Cart


Bro-dogs

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On the table: State and Lake

State and Lake, in the Wit hotel

State and Lake, in the Wit hotel

5 glasses, 5 napkins, 1 candle, salt, pepper grinder, 5 forks, 5 knives. The Wit Hotel, 201 N. State St., 312.467.0200

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Vietnamese iced coffee at Vella Cafe

Vietnamese iced coffee on the rocks at Vella Cafe

Vietnamese iced coffee on the rocks at Vella Cafe

Man oh man am I going to miss the bright and sunny Vella Cafe when it closes up at the end of August to make room for Bill Kim’s (of Urban Belly) new venture, Belly Shack (Latin American and Pan-Asian influenced salads, sandwiches, soups and more). But Vella had a good run with owners Melissa Yen (a previous and future guest blogger) and Sara Voden, offering delicious brunch items like a spicy tofu scramble, amaranth pancakes with lingonberry jam and a sausage frittata panini. Lunch offers a surprisingly good vegetarian bánh mì with fried tofu, carrots, jalapeño, cilantro, mint, house pickled daikon and spicy chili mayo and grilled cheese with tomato. But the Vietnamese iced coffee is what I may go in for daily before they close up shop. You’ll be more productive than you ever thought possible after this tall pint glass full of espresso, coffee and sweet, creamy condensed milk served over ice. Yeah, you can get iced Vietnamese coffee at more authentic spots, but I loved how Vella whips theirs up and has it available for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Any other favorite items you’ll miss? Don’t worry, there’s still time to get in your final fix. 1912 N. Western Ave., 312.489.7777

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Filed under cheap, tasty brunch, quick lunch

Sesame balls at Whole Foods

Sesame balls from Whole Foods

Sesame balls from Whole Foods

Out of all the different kiosks bursting with deliciousness at the new Whole Foods in Lincoln Park, I can’t for the life of me stray from the sushi/noodle/Chinese bar for lunch. And more specifically, the sesame balls hiding next to the orange chicken, fried rice and lo mein. You actually get a sesame ball or egg roll with the lunch special, but I’ve gotten into the habit of buying four of the mini dense doughnut hole treats covered with nutty sesame seeds on the outside and filled with a sweet bean paste, and eating them in one sitting. When I need to take a break from Korean short ribs with brown rice or the sushi trays, I may one day make my way over to the Italian, Southern, Mexican and 1950s-style diner counters, but I’ll always end my meal with a few of these chewy, filling gems. 1550 N. Kingsbury, 312.587.0648

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