Monday, August 24, 2015

Meat Perfection @ Cherry Circle Room

There's something between me and hotel restaurants. They just draw me in. That being said, I saw that the much awaited remodeling, restructuring, re-everything of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel was completed. Unlike it's past where it was a men's only sports club, they've opened their new soul to the public! That means ME!
I hurriedly grabbed a reservation to the Cherry Circle Room before the masses get a whiff of it.

The journey to Chicago Athletic Association hotel was an adventure in itself, thanks to my faulty  spot hero QR code and my bad case of the LBS (low blood sugar.) Over the humps and through the concrete woods, TGD and I found ourselves finally inside the hotel. And another adventure starts...Where is this restaurant?! A gentleman guides us to go up the stairs to the second floor. Stairs?! Let's just say my shoes were not meant for walking. So beyond the front desk, past The Game Room, and hidden in a corner....

...a tiny entrance with a neon sign CCR emerged.
Courtesy of Google
We're here!!!

A dimly lit, wood laden room welcomes us. Although this was not part of the original hotel design, the walls and the atmosphere gives a nod to it's old men's club feel; complete with  old timey sports banners. I felt that I was breaking the "no girls" rule. Ha!
Prior to making reservations to CCR, I perused the cocktail menu and saw  "Tableside Cocktail Cart Available. Ask your server to signal for a visit." Let's just say that asking the server about this magical cart were the first words out of my mouth. I could not contain my excitement when his highness, The Bartender, graced me with the cart and his crafty hands. I actually clapped like a child! I was given the choice of  a few cocktails, along with a create your own gin and tonic. In keeping with the old timey vibe,  Gin and tonic was a clear choice! It was a mix of Haymans Old Tom Gin and Fentimans Tonic. I was initially skeptical and expecting an overly pine tree sipping experience, but it was far from that. It was pleasantly refreshing! No pine fresh here!

Time to fix our LBS problem... 

TGD ordered the Chateaubriand. From my understanding, it's basically a beef fillet with with a wine and shallot reduction sauce. Seeing that this meat was cooked rare, I was apprehensive about tasting this. Yes, you may burn me at the stake (pun!)because I like my steak nearly charred. In the name of blogging, I braved taking a bite, expecting a gush of this cow's last juices of life. Whoa! There was none of that at all! It was a nice tender bite of meat gushing with flavor! I would eat this rare piece of meat again. TGD commented "They could've given the onion rings more importance." Which I agree with, it was a little forgettable. Accompanying this meat is a trio of condiments, some buttery lemon sauce, some brown sauce that tasted like a reduction of wine and delicious meat dripping, and some salt.

I decided to get my pork on to really put this place to the test. Presenting the 12 oz Duroc Pork Chop, Its party is joined by farro, artichoke, and clam casino sauce. Pork dishes can sometimes get too grossly greasy, but not this. I nearly forgot that I was eating porky. Along with the faro, and the clam, it made for one magnificent bite ( my mouth is literally watering writing this!)
So with all these meaty goodness, the show stopper for me was the Buttermilk and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes! I know, the simplest of things. It was beyond creamy, I was not sure if I was actually eating it. It just melted in my mouth and filled it with it's warm, buttery, flavor bomb. If you think your dish does not need a side, you need this side!

Let's end this meal with an exclamation. Dessert! Carrot Cake.  Looking at this deconstructed food art, I must admit I was disappointed that it wasn't a barbaric slice of cake. The disappointment quickly dissipated as the amalgamation of flavors did it's magic. It's carrot cake bits, with pineapple ice cream...Small size, big flavor!

Despite all the pre-dinner hullabaloo, the food and service quickly changed my LBS mood. I went from huffing to clapping even before the drinks. I did not even fuss about the fact that getting to the bathroom to wash my hands required even more stairs and a maze of hallways. Instead, I felt like  Alice in Wonderland traversing through the magic of the rabbit hole. 

Like the magic of wonderland, this place got me to eat rare meat with delight, hence this place deserves...
8 out of 10lbs!

TheBestyview my food journey on zomato!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to brave the grill for some pizza. Growing up, my father was cool enough to know that I can handle more than a cheese pizza. Pizza was the ultimate comfort food. My brother would often inject excitement to our lives by having an asthma attack, causing him to end up in the hospital on multiple occasions. My bratty self would be so jealous that he gets to skip school and I don't. Yes, I had great perspective back then. Ha! To appease my misery, and sometimes trick me into leaving the hospital so my brother can finally have his peace and quiet, my father would take me to Shakey's Pizza. I believe this place is still alive and well in the West Coast. My father's favorite pizza was called Manager's Special:my memory thinks it had onions, ground beef, green peppers, and I think ham. Take that cheese pizza!... Although, I would pick out the onions and the peppers, but I enjoyed the flavors that permeated the bite. I always thought that my father's bad-assery transcended beyond the walls of our home that they named a pizza after him. Yes, he is that bad ass. Another non-lame pizza my father introduced me to was this pizza called Mare: it had fish balls on it! No! It's not what you're thinking of sicko! It's fish meat processed into dumpling like balls. Again, in your face cheese pizza!
In honor of my father shielding me from a childhood of eating lame cheese pizza ( sorry cheese only pizza lovers), I decided to empty out my fridge and grilled up some barbeque, chicken, gruyere, feta, avocado, arugula, orange cranberry, flatbread pizza.
Phew! That was a mouthful, and indeed my mouth was filled with deliciousness. 

Thank you Papa  for exposing my palate early to the finer flavors of life ( and giving me the option to skip out on trying that goat wiener delicacy...maybe I'll try it now?) 

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers and father figures!

TheBestyview my food journey on zomato!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seattle: Hey Chicken! Hey! @ Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey

Drinking game alert: Drink when you see the word "Chicken."

When you think Seattle, you think chicken...Not! Well it's time to think chicken my Seattle Noshers. Read on to find out why.

 In my search for the ultimate brunch aka bottomless mimosas, my search pointed to this place called Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey. Whiskey?! as in my mimosa will be spiked with whiskey?! After I calmed down, I realized that though this place may have food, this is not heaven, and there will be no whiskey in my mimosa. Ok, enough about the mimosas, as they go best with food.

No this is not the chicken, but this is the mouthwateringly refreshing and decadent Tostada. It's a pile of iceberg lettuce, coconut chutney, black beans, a drizzling of sriracha sour cream, and an egg on it! Put this tostada over the top and add kalua pork. Kalua is the Hawaiian style of cooking in an underground oven. Mush all the components together, and it's like buttah!

And here it is ladies and gentlemen, the chicken that will make you forget about the relationship between the Pacific Northwest and sea creatures. Simply called Fried Chicken. This umami spiced chicken is twice fried and served with biscuits, sausage gravy, and maple syrup. The crispiness of this chicken is no joking matter. It's so crunchy, it's like a potato chip.
See that little bowl in there? That's not soup. That's the sausage gravy. Notice the chunks of sausage. Let's just say that it's in a soup bowl for a reason because I actually tried to eat it like soup. Don't be was worth every heart stopping slurp. With every bite, I let out a contented sigh, while at the same time wanting more.

More, more, more, whoops, I have a sticky mess of maple syrup and gravy on my hands. I have some disdain towards dirty hands, so in order for me to continue to enjoy this piece of heaven, I had to take a hand wash break and unsticky my fingers...

I came back from my hand washing mission to this! My side of the table was cleaned and all that was left was this box! TGD put my chicken in the box. Was that a hint to stop eating? "I really only ate one piece, and waaaah!" An epic whine and pout fest ensued in the direction of TGD. "Why did you put a bottom to my bottomless mimosa, and most importantly, I was still making out with the chicken!" During my whining, I overheard a disappointed customer being told that they're out of chicken. Bing! Perspective! Ok, I'm kinda fine long as TGD buys me ice cream. Ha! Make sure to reserve your chicken if you plan on going. Yes, you read that right...reserve your chicken!

 Blame TGD for only allowing me to gain 5lbs, and this place deserves a hefty 11lbs! 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

OhMyGosh!: Friday Night Lights and Happy Mother's Day!!!

Last night, TGD and I had our nightly Friday Night Lights viewing session. It takes a lot for me to actually sit through a show, let alone a series, butI'm trying. As I blankly stared at the TV, the tension between Julie  (daughter) and Tami (Mom)  grabbed my attention, and I verbally uttered "Gosh, moms are awesome." 

 Watch the tension starting at around minute 22

To summarize the scene, Julie quickly brought her teenage angst to level 11 over her mom making a suggestion to Julie's outfit. As Julie started rambling , screaming, and having the gall to say " Do you know  how many things I've done for you?! A thank you would be nice. ".... TO HER MOTHER!!! I Gasped, waiting for Tami to temporarily maime her, but no...Mother Tami validates Julie's teenage rant. (Watch starting around minute 23) 

Many of us have gone through that bratty, irrational, the world is mine, teenage years...and yes I am one of the the lucky ones whose mother gave words of validation to my hormone induced irrationality. My mom never failed to tell me the things that make me awesome...even after a nowhere near awesome flub.
Courtesy of To Make You Laugh

Mom...THANK YOU!!! Thank you for not beating the hair out of me when 
I was a looney teenager...and adult. Thank you for all the strength and sacrifice you have gifted me with before I was even born. Fun fact is that, I started my little rebellion as early as when I was  a slimy unborn baby by refusing to let go of the chord. I'm sure that was not fun for anyone, but maybe slimy baby me did? Mom, a bugillion thank yous can't tell you how much I appreciate being born to you. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!... and I'm sorry for being responsible for speeding up some of your cell degeneration.
Courtesy of Google Images
Happy Mother's Day!!!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Seattle: Post Faith No More Noshing @ Radiator Whiskey

 "Boredom is your own fault!" One can always eat, drink, dance, (insert other verbs here) until it's fun! The Great Dane (TGD) was ever so excited that Faith No More is coming to Seattle. They may not be in  my usual musical genre, but my mantra said that  I was down to have fun!
A little piece of the concert @ the Paramount Theater.
Yes, the concert was actually fun, I jumped and "danced" and screamed. I especially liked the contrast between the mosh-pit inducing tunes and the flower laden stage. 

Pardon the crappy sound...and the "commentary"
Oh, and they covered  Herb Albert's This Guy's in Love With You. This guy can actually sing and not just scream and call it metal. Bravo Mr. Faith No More. How does one mosh to this? Ha!

All the jumping around has me hankering for some nosh. Trying to keep the metal on, we decided to check out Radiator Whiskey, sounds metal right? After going through the the random stairs at Pike Market, we found ourselves in a not so metal, but more quaint restaurant. Honestly, it felt like a Potbelly's, with cocktails. Not so metal, but they have food.

Speaking of cocktails....

How fun are those names?! Since the spring weather put me in the lemon mood, I opted for The Piledriver. What a name! This could be dangerous, as I could not even taste the bourbon. It's lemonade!

Time to eat! Instead of giving you bar nuts, they serve you warm popcorn! That was a fun twist! 

Fried Beef Lip Terrine with Dijonaise. It was like breaded braised beef nuggets, with mayonnaise dip. The outer breading was perfectly crispy without being greasy. 

Debris Sandwich:It was stuffed with house pulled pork, smoked cheddar, and fritos. Not really sure if by fritos, they meant Frito Lays...I don't remember biting into any. Since it was basically bedtime, TGD and I split the sandwich. TGD got most of the yolk part. Boo. This was not your typical pulled pork sandwich, as it was not covered in bbq sauce. It was just seasoned right, and melded with the cheese. I could only finish 1/4 of this hearty and meaty sandwich; maybe because I inhaled the popcorn and the tots. Oh I nearly forgot, this sandwich came with Rainier Beer. I like that they keep it local.
 No room for dessert! The world is ending!

 If you are in the mood for whiskey, this place is your jam. They have a wide variety of whiskeys, which stays true to their name.I thought it was a little too quiet to have a name like Radiator Whiskey. Nonetheless, they quelled my late night hunger...and if I had more room for dessert, I would've gotten the warm chocolate chip cookies with a shot of whiskey. Who needs milk when there's whiskey.

I'm willing to gain 2.5lbs out of 5lbs for Radiator Whiskey



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seattle: Pinch Me, Am I In Gay Paree? @ Cafe Campagne

  For your listening pleasure:
La Vie en Rose
Seattle has summoned me once again! I am always happy to oblige, specially during spring time when Pike Place Market is just blooming with my favorite tulips and peonies at $10 a bunch...while Chicago is still holding on to the last icicle of winter.

Holy my plane flew in all sense of the word! My plane left on time for once, and touched down approximately 20 minutes early; the one time that I wouldn't have minded being delayed because I had 2 hours to kill in the airport, or  in other words, 2 hours to plan my nosh while I'm in Seattle. 2 hours passed, and my day's itinerary is set: go to the hotel, and find food that would recoup the meals I've missed since the day prior.
During my previous market visits, I always walk passed Cafe Campagne with vows to eat there and get my croque madame fix"next time." Well, the time is now! With the rare Seattle sun welcoming me  and The Great Dane (TGD) with open arms, we hugged it back by dining alfresco. Skimming the menu, I spied with my sleepy eyes the words "sipping chocolate." My interest was quickly peaked, but I want booze! Our waitress happily informed me that there is an adult version to this!

CHOCOLAT CHAUD:French Sipping Chocolate. It's served as a pitcher of hot chocolate with a bowl of chantilly cream. Real cream! The Avec Chartreuse Verte was the 21 and over addition to this gastro luxury. As this pompous but necessary presentation was brought to my table, I was quickly transported to the imaginary Paris in my head. With every sip, the bustle of  Pike Market was quickly replaced by the melody of La Vie en Rose. 

The waitress explained that one is supposed to sip the chocolate, then sip the chartreuse. Sip, sip. That's it! This is the only way to have hot chocolate from now on.

Maybe we should eat something, as the Paris in my head is starting to go beyond the normal realm of daydreaming.

TGD got the House-made Pork & Chicken Sausage:  It came as an open faced sandwich with melted Comte de gruyere with dijon mustard. What pray tell is comte? It's basically unpasteurized cow's milk cheese. The more you know! This sandwich may look dainty in carnivore land, but it was very hearty, and would fulfill any meat lover's inner desires.
My Parisian hallucination was quelled with the one thing that attracted me to this place in the first place; The Croque Madame : It had Parisian ham inside with gruyere cheese melted on top, and boom put an egg on it! Now, I was not very satisfied with the madame. Where's the bechamel or the mornay?!...or did America add this on? Whichever country decided on adding that creamy and buttery roux deserves a medal. Cafe Campagne's Madame needs a butter bath! 

Overall, Cafe Campagne needs to be a stop while you're out exploring Pike Place Market; tourist or not! Back when my frequent West Coast (anything west of Chicago is west coast to me) travels brought  me to Las Vegas, it became my tradition to visit Bouchon and get my croque madame fix. It was exclamation point to the fact that I have thawed out from the cold! Now that Seattle is my new west, Cafe Campagne is my new west coast Pacific Northwest tradition, not for the madame, but to sip hot chocolate with chartreuse. There's no better exclamation than chocolate and booze!

Cafe Campagne is worth gaining:
 4.5lbs out of 5 lbs