My twin sister -- a New Yorker and true foodie -- visited the Second City for the weekend: her first visit; my first chance to show off the city, and its wondrous food options. We're only a year removed from college, so weren't looking to sample the stratospheric places (that's for when the parents are in town!). No, we're the type of girls who go to Momofuku Ssam, not Ko, when in New York.
Chicago CHers -- the city showed well.
Friday night: Hot Chocolate, in Bucktown. One of my new favorite places. I rarely do repeat visits since there is such variety at our doorstep, but I've been back to Hot Chocolate thrice in five weeks. Sarah's pork belly and pork was delicious (although -- duh -- see first ingredient) and my salmon with duck-fat cippollini onions was exceptionally rich. The desserts -- medium hot chocolate for her; Chocolate #1 for me -- were divine as expected but didn't overshadow the mains and app. Service and scene were a pleasure and the James Beard nominations in the entryway didn't hurt in making an impression.
Saturday morning: a freezing walk along the lake, Mag Mile, and Millennium Park with a stop at King Cafe & Co. for some of Bleeding Heart Bakery's vegan Take A Hike Scones.
Saturday night: Blackbird, almost-Avec, and -- in an odd turn of events -- RJ Grunt's. Avec at 8:30 on a Saturday night was -- shock -- a madhouse. But instead of huddling with the masses around the 2 heatlamps outside (note to Koren: invest in a third), S had the brilliant idea of heading to Blackbird for a drink while we waited. The bartender (Matty) made the most exceptional cocktail: the Daisy Ball, a vegetal, complex, fennel- and citrus-infused delight. Great people-watching and a much nicer scene than the crowd waiting at Avec. Unfortunately, my BlackBerry went off with an urgent work-related email (on a Saturday night!! Seriously?!?) just as we were heading to Avec. Emergency change of plans: back to Lincoln Park. We grabbed a quick bite at R.J. Grunt's, in the first floor of my building but where I had never eaten. Sarah loves a good burger and this one fit the bill: right level of crumble and juiciness, totally unhealthy, crispy bacon on top. The kitschy salad bar -- which I had derided when walking by in the past -- had the last laugh, although some veggies were literally floating in ice water. The balsamic mushrooms impressed. Gimmicky though it may be, we found the Melman's original endearing.
Sunday or, as it will heretofore be known, Carbday: breakfast at Chicago Bagel Authority. A cozy stop-in after a cold walk through the Armitage area. Does anyone know why CBA steams, and doesn't (read: won't) toast their (delicious) bagels?
Sunday late lunch / dinner: Gino's East. I'm a deep-dish lover and a Gino's East loyalist, but the pies didn't show as well as I'd hoped. Maybe it was the location -- we ate at the Superior outpost (normally I go to the Gino's in Lakeview but we were shopping on Michigan) or the order (a large supreme with pepperoni instead of a small supreme with sausage) but something was off -- the cheese wasn't as luscious and the sauce a little gloppy. Really, the only over-promise/under-deliver of a fantastic food weekend.
S was much impressed. And I have the promise of those wonderful missed chorizo-stuffed dates at Avec to lure her back.