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Report from Weekend in Chicago--Oak + Char, xoco Wicker Park, Mott Street

bte576 | Nov 25, 201405:36 AM

Had a nice weekend visit in Chicago with some enjoyable meals and wanted to share. We tried Oak + Char on Huron in the former Graham Elliot space. The menu sounded great, it was right by our hotel, and reservations were easy to get, so we took a chance on going with a pretty new spot. They had opened several weeks before getting their liquor license, but had just started serving drinks when we dined on Friday and it showed. Our cocktail choices were temporarily unavailable (recipe & nitrogen line issues). After a little awkward waiting, we changed our orders with my husband going with a beer and I just suggested a few ingredients to the bartender and ended up with a great drink. Despite a frustrating start, things went smoothly once at our table and we were ultimately happy with the choice for dinner.

Ordered the charred burrata & eggplant, crispy broccoli, smoked chicken, and Fjord trout. The chicken wasn’t on our radar, but the server described it coming with crispy potatoes and a soft boiled egg and said it had been receiving rave reviews, so we went for it and it was awesome. The trout was also excellent. The burrata dish was delicious and was served with nice, house made naan, but we felt it would have been better if served warm vs. cold. I wished we would have asked what they meant by crispy broccoli—for some reason I was envisioning more of a high heat roasted prep vs. the battered and fried version that it was, but this was still good, just not a real highlight.

We did visit Celeste for a cocktail after dinner due to some recommendations from the board. We were able to snag bar seats and enjoyed our selections. Our bartender was very friendly and approachable.

Saturday Brunch: Met friends at xoco in Wicker Park. It was not busy at 10 when we arrived, so there was no wait and the atmosphere was pretty relaxing with the lack of a crowd. The brunch menu isn’t large, but their reg. menu was available and they were cool with letting you add proteins from their main menu to your breakfast. I enjoyed huevos rancheros and the rest of our party seemed to really like their meals.

Saturday Dinner: Mott Street
We had calamari, brussels sprouts with lamb pancetta, everything wings, pork stuffed cabbage, and a bread special (flaky bread topped with a soft egg and served with charred leek curry butter). This really was too much food for us as is and the waiter almost suggested we order more, but the only thing I could have imagined cutting out was the bread as it was good, but seasoned a little inconsistently--one bite would be really flavorful and then a bland bite might follow. Everything else was rich, flavorful, and pretty addicting. We were looking for something casual-ish after some afternoon football watching, but still wanted to make our second dinner count and this turned out to be perfect. The pace of the meal was faster than I would have expected. We were actually pretty tired, so this didn’t end up bothering us, but I could see being a little turned off by that if we were hoping for a longer and more relaxing dinner.

Overall, a great time and we were definitely well fed!

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