Last year I blogged about an awesome meal at Graham Elliot and a perfect cheeseburger at the loser-laden Rockit from a recent trip to Chicago. I also had written up some blurbs about other places I checked out. Here they are:
Heaven on Seven
Located on the 7th floor of an older office building at 111 North Wabash in Chicago is famous for its Cajun cooking. I didn’t have time to stop by for lunch or dinner but I was able to check out their breakfast. I had the poached eggs, Cheddar grits, and Andouille sausage plate and it was excellent. Two perfectly poached eggs sat atop a nice sized pool of creamy Cheddar cheese grits with a ring of thinly sliced Andouille surrounding the plate. So good. I cannot wait to return and try the poached eggs on fried green tomatoes. 111 N. Wabash – 7th Floor, Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 263-6443 http://www.heavenonseven.com/
The Southwater Kitchen is located in the Hotel Moncao at 225 S. Wabash Avenue. We came on a Friday Night around 7 or so and the place was dead. Empty restaurants on Friday nights always scare me, especially in Chicago. Undeterred we gave it a shot and I am kind of glad we did. The thing about this place is that they cook similar to the way I do at home, which is why I liked it.
My entrée was Pork Tenderloin with cheesy grits, crispy pork belly, dandelion greens, cherries and a smoky pork reduction. It was really good. The pork was a tad more cooked than the medium I ordered but still was moist and tender. The grits were spectacular and worked well with the slightly bitter greens which were amazing. The pork belly was kind of just there off to the side, not tied to the rest of the dish in any way. Pork belly just for the sake of pork belly I guess. Maybe the chef had heard about all the rage surrounding pork belly and just had to add it to his dish. It was good (how could pork belly not be) but again seemed to not be there for any reason. They could have easily incorporated it into the dish. My wife had this sautéed Barramundi dish that had a delicious red wine, mushroom and oxtail sauce and some mashed potatoes. It was also very good. As the server indicated, it was prepared more in the style of how you would serve steak. The dish was heavier than most fish dishes but seemed to work well, not overpowering the delicious fish. The place is overpriced but given their location I can see why. It was a nice place to have dinner with an 8 month old given the lack of customers and the spacious booths. 225 North Wabash Avenue Chicago, IL 60601-2404 (312) 236-9300 www.southwaterkitchen.com
Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread, and Wine
We had some nice olives from their olive bar and a couple of sandwhces. The Bocadillo DeLa Mancha, which featured Serrano Ham, Manchego cheese, field greens, membrillo (quince paste) & whole grain Dijon and the Canard Balsamico, which had herbed duck confit, balsamic cipollini onions, whole grain Dijon mustard, field greens & Fromager D’Affinois, a spectacular French double cream cheese similar to Brie. Both sandwiches were among the best we have eaten anywhere. I tend to dislike sandwich shops because so many of them are boring, bland, and unoriginal. The offerings at Pastoral are none of these things and if there was one near me, I’d eat there several times a week. They also have a killer cheese (and wine) selection. If you are in the area, I’d suggest you pay a visit to this excellent cheese shop that kind of reminded me of Fromagination in Madison (who also makes amazing sandwiches).
Pastoral has three locations in Chicago; Lakeview, Chicago French Market, and the Loop at 53 E. Lake Street (where we visited). http://www.pastoralartisan.com/
Clark Street Ale House
Sure you can enjoy some spectacular brews paired with great food at the numerous Chicago gastropubs like The Gage, The Hopleaf, or Paul Kahan’s Publican but sometimes you just want to belly up to the bar and enjoy a great glass of craft beer at a no-frills, cozy pub. The Clarke Street Ale House fits that bill perfectly. Located at 742 North Clark Street, they offer many (I counted over 20) microbrews on tap, including some hand pulled cask ales and even more by-the-bottle selections. Their selections span the country with special emphasis on brews from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Free pretzel rods are also available. The staff is super friendly and really knows their beers.