Friday, 10 May 2013

Chicago Food

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Creme Brûlée & Bacon Maple Doughnuts from Glazed & Infused
Chicago felt like the real America, everything was suddenly bigger, the buildings, the cars, the food and the waistlines and oh my they don't do things by halves that for sure. 

Our flight to Chicago was at an eye-watering 6am which meant getting up around 3am, if it wasn't for the jet lag I wouldn't have bothered going to bed.

Lucky for us we ended up staying just around the corner from both The Girl & The Goat and Little Goat so for breakfast we decided to go all out. Tim went in for the kill & ordered the Fat Elvis which consisted of 2 HUGE waffles, candied bacon, banana, maple syrup and that big ball on top... thats not ice-cream it's peanut butter flavoured butter. They really should change the name to Elvis Killer. It was pretty incredible and well executed but I would not like to know how many calories are in that bad boy.
Fat Elvis at Little Goat
I went for a slighty healthier option (by their standards anyway) which was a bit of a mishmash of pancakes, eggs, kimchi and greens. Even they don't quite know how to describe it (see menu). It was delicious but way too big to finish on my own.
Kimchi, Bacon, Eggs & Bacon creation at Little Goat
A peek into the Little Goat kitchen. That guy is flipping 1 portion of omelette and check out the size of that brioche!
A peek at the menu, portions look big enough for 4!

A few nights later we headed to The Girl and The Goat which was somewhat of a contrast. I had read about long waits on tables and with not much luck booking we headed down early and hoped for the best. At first we were told a fairly reasonable wait of 45 minutes or we were given the option of waiting around the bar and grabbing a seat there for dinner. Just as we found a spot on a sofa the maitre d' came over and to our delight told us they could squeeze us in early. 

So, the bad before I begin gushing. Firstly, the waitress was the worst we'd had all trip. So scripted and full of energy that we lept out of our seats every time she came to check on us (after every plate) earn those tip gurl! Secondly, a lot of the other clientele were your usual snooty business types in the 'party shirts' and blonde wives, it felt like I was back in the 80's BUY BUY BUY SELL SELL SELL! I digress. Onto the food. The menu is set out into 3 sections, Vegetarian, Fish & Meat and is designed to be shared although I'm not quite sure how you would share some of these out with more than 2 people or perhaps I'm just greedy. We began with the Kohlrabi salad with fennel, evalon, blueberries, toasted almonds & a ginger dressing which was incredible. We pretty much fought over who got the lick the bowl. Next up green garlic potato wontons with ramps (wild garlic) shitake mushrooms, asparagus, pickled rhubarb and spiced pecans. Another impressive dish but the salad remained the highlight. We couldn't visit and not try some goat so we settled on the goat empanadas. Deliciously crispy but again, I'm not sure how you would go about sharing this with lots of people, one bite is clearly not enough in my books! Last up on the savoury was the Wood Fired Walter's Chicken which came served with asparagus, rhubarb and ramp goddess dressing. (I'm starting to see a little trend in ingredients here). Now I don't know who Walter is but what a dish. The sticky marinade with the chicken was pretty incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed mopping it all up with the bread. The only thing I am unsure of is whether it was quite worth the $23 price tag but we were on holiday.
Wood Fired Walter's Chicken at The Girl and The Goat
To round the meal off nicely we shared a sticky date cake which was served with seedling blueberry preserves, montamore gelato & crisp. The gelato was similar to a frozen yogurt in flavour and cut through the richness of the cake. The blueberry preserves were a great touch. Another dish from the trip I'd like to try and re-create. Our visit to Girl and the Goat was without a doubt the culinary highlight of the whole trip. A must visit if heading to Chicago just be prepared for serious service with a smile.
Sticky date cake at The Girl & The Goat
We stumbled into Au Cheval 10 minutes before their kitchen closed. Both feeling like we ought to eat something light but with no a salad in sight on the menu and in a bit of a panic we both went for their Fried Housemade Bologne Sandwich. My god, when that thing came out our jaws hit the floor. I've never eaten anything like it. Layer upon layer of meat with oozing cheese and a pickle on the side (as standard in Chicago) I don't know how but we managed to make our way through pretty much the whole thing. Post lunch research revealed this was voted #2 in the top 50 sandwiches in Chicago and its very easy to see why. A highlight of the whole trip and possibly something to try and recreate at some point.
Fried Bologne sandwich from Au Cheval
We had been recommended 5 Guys by quite a few people but we didn't make it whilst in New York. On a trip to a slightly out of town Target we stumbled across a 5 Guys just in time for lunch. I loved the boxes of potatoes creating the queue and the help yourself peanuts. They have a huge selection of free toppings and if you order your burger 'all the way' this includes ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms! The burgers were pretty amazing and thumbs up on the fries too which are cooked in peanut oil.
5 Guys burgers
You can't go to Chicago and not try 2 of its most famous exports. Chicagoans are very particular about their hot dogs and we got to try one at The Haute & The Dog. For it to be an authentic Chicago dog it must be a beef dog on a poppy seed bun topped with yellow mustard, white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a pickle, 2 tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and some celery salt. Be warned, don't ask for ketchup! All of these toppings make for a very fresh but rather tricky to eat dog.

The second Chicago institution is of course the most famous. The deep dish pizza or pie as they prefer to call it. The pizza is assembled with the cheese first and the tomato sauce on top this means when served the cheese just oozes out from everywhere. We were all pretty full after the first slice but its one of those very naughty but oh so moreish meals that you allow yourself once in a blue moon.
Chicago Deep Dish from Pizzaros

Just a block from our apartment was The Publican and its sister deli The Publican Quality Meats. We headed to PQM one morning for breakfast but as they didn't serve one we decided to share a salad and a sandwich. The asparagus panzanella salad was super fresh and zingy a slightly odd breakfast choice but it was the perfect wake up. The truffle and tallegio sausage sandwich was nothing short of incredible. Topped with the most delicious brussel sprout, apple & caraway slaw and a side of marinated kale. I would eat that every day for breakfast if I could!
Truffle Tallegio Sandwich at Publican Quality Meats
Asparagus Panzanella at Publican Quality Meats
Halfway through our trip we were taken to Big Star for some Mexican food. This was one of the hottest days of our trip and their patio seating was very full so we decided to go to their take out counter instead. Here you can get skip the wait and get anything from the full menu to go and sit on the benches out front. In a sharing mood as always we shared a salad and some pork tacos. I think this was my favourite Mexican food of the whole trip.

Miko's was recommended to us by our host Nick. He explained that this guy was selling his home made Italian ice out of the front of his house so we had to go and explore. We decided to share a cup of mango & coconut ice and sat in his front garden enjoying it and watching neighbours popping by for their weekly fix. What an incredibly tasty and refreshing treat, I have since been looking up recipes as I want to stock my fridge up for summer.

For our 'last supper' in Chicago we were taken to The Smoke Daddy, a traditional American BBQ joint. Wanting to try everything we opted for the 'Taste of the Daddy' platter. We dug into baby back ribs, burnt ends & brisket with sides of mac'n'cheese & smoked pit beans. Told you they didn't do things by halves!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it looks all fantastic. The super enthusiastic service in the US is something I find troubling sometimes, they really do rely on their tips! I'd love to have a go at making Chicago Deep Dish pizza, wonder how hard it is to recreate?


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