Thursday, May 28, 2009

Steve's Deli

My boss Lisa has been hell bent on finding an authentic Jewish Deli here in Chicago. She says she's tried a few, but nothing comes close to the places she grew up with in the Detroit area. When Steve's Deli arrived this past year we were both pretty excited to check it out. And it was almost as good as the places she's knew as a kid.

Steve's Deli
354 W Hubbard St Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 467-6868

This place is pretty fantastic. When you walk in you are greeted with an array of deli meats, cheeses, kosher friendly salads and different Jewish staples such as Potato Latkes (which I highly recommend) and Fried Kreplach. To the left you have a dining area that resembles an old-school cafeteria minus the long communal benches and to the right is the deli area followed by an in store grocer where you can purchase bagels, Vernor's Ginger Ale and many other take home items. But I have to say, the main reason Steve's is great is because of their over-stuffed deli sandwiches. Served on crispy rye, pumpernickel, pita, lavash, Kaiser roll, or onion roll, these sandwiches will fill you up! Try the Hot Pastrami & Hot Corned Beef Combination or the Hot Corned Beef & Chopped Chicken Liver Combination (my personal favorite!). And, before you leave, head on over to the dessert fridge and grab a MASSIVE cupcake or slice of cheesecake to go.

Scale 1 - 10: 6 (it's great food but can get REALLY pricey)
Price: $$ 1/2 (for two sandwiches, three potato latkes, one cupcake and one slice of cheesecake and two drinks = around $50.00...yikes!)
Date: If you are in a relationship. If you are just starting out no! It's not very romantic, and you might scare someone stuffing that much corn beef in you face.
BYOB: nope
Specials: Not really, but the menu is huge so you will have something new to try everytime
Carry-out/Delivery: Yes/No

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Urban Belly

I've recently discovered that a large part of my day is dedicated to finding restaurants. I ask my boss, Lisa, if she's tried anything new or heard anything good about certain eateries. I force my husband to take me to new places all the time when he would rather hit up the regular spots. Although, I think he's realized that we won't really have any "regular" spots anymore, since one of my favorite things in life is trying a new place to eat. Here in Chicago, new restaurants open up daily and trying to stay on top of it is time consuming and expensive, but if you read enough reviews and menus and sift through the pile of new "hot spots" you can really find some quality places to spend a good evening.

One place I found was

Urban Belly
Located at 3053 N California Ave in Avondale/Logan Square (773) 583-0500

There are a couple of reasons why this Contemporary Asian restaurant is one of my favorites. First, the menu. When I walk into a restaurant and I see that the menu only has a few items, I usually feel confident about my future dining experience. I've discovered that when given 20 options in each category (20 types of chicken, 20 types of beef, 20 types of sides...well you get the picture) it's rarely a good meal. Chef Bill Kim has created 5 dumplings (try the Duck and Pho Spices), 4 rice dishes, 6 noodle dishes (my favorite, the Soba Noodles with scallops) and 4 sides. There aren't even 20 things on the menu! To me, this means that the chef took his time picking which items would make the cut and created something delicious in each bowl.
My second reason for loving Urban Belly is the communal dining. I was a little hesistant at first, but my husband and I sat down, we had another couple at the end of the table and we still felt alone. It's great! Instead of feeling crowded like at other restaurants where you all get your own table, here you don't feel like your personal space is being invaded, which, I know sounds completely opposite, but I guess going into a situation where you know you might be elbow to elbow with a stranger is easier to deal with than going in thinking you will have a protective bubble around you at all times and then being brutally disappointed when the lady next to you starts talking about her dog's bowel movements.

Urban Belly is amazing! Order things for yourself, or order things to share. The portions are huge and worth every penny.

Scale from 1-10: 7.08 (GREAT place! Maybe not for everyone, but most)
Price: $$ (with two entrees and an appetizer it's about $35.00)
Date: YES! Maybe not a first date but a 4th or 5th
BYOB: Indeed
Specials: Yes
Carry-out/Delivery: Yes/No

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Places to Eat

I've decided that I am done trying to talk politics, pop culture, sports, etc. I am going to start talking about food.

That's right, food.

So what is food. Well, here you have a very direct definition of what food is:
  • any substance that can be metabolized by an animal to give energy and build tissue
  • any solid substance (as opposed to liquid) that is used as a source of nourishment; "food and drink"
  • anything that provides mental stimulus for thinking
What this definition leaves out is that food has the ability to bring people together, tear people apart, make people cry, make them laugh make them angry, make their days better or worse, make them happy or sad. FOOD IS AMAZING! I believe that if the leaders of the world could sit down for a 10 course meal, a couple of beers and a few deep discussions the problems we face today could disappear. Seriously, who can get heated while eating delicious Creme Brulee or Crab Cakes? NO ONE!

So with that said I am blogging about food. I am going to talk about restaurants you should try (mostly, if not all, in Chicago), recipes you can whip up, things you should stay away from and ideas for parties and what not.

So here you go!

To start out I recommend Chicago's very own...

Butterfly Sushi Bar/Thai Cuisine
Located at 1421 W Chicago Ave (312-492-9955)

This is probably one of my favorite restaurants. I will say that I used to hate it, but now I seriously love it. Their rice dishes are a little, well, bad (ha!), but they have the BEST Panang Curry I have ever eaten in this city. The sushi is fresh, the staff is fantastic and the crab rangoon is my favorite. People expecting high-class, super fancy, "I only eat sushi where Japanese people eat sushi' may not find this enjoyable, but don't let those folks keep you from checking this place out. Come here with friends, a date or order in for a movie night. Everyone will find something that they enjoy.

Cost: $ (Thai) $$ (Sushi)
Date Place: Yes! If you can get a table, if not they deliver (Damen, North, Polk and Lake Shore)
On a scale of 1 - 10: I give it a 5.75 (better than most places, not as great as others, but still a solid place to enjoy a delicious meal)