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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

So you’re out bowling with your buddies and suddenly your stomach starts growling. What do you do? You go to the snack bar and get some nachos or an overpriced bad piece of pizza, right? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chips and manufactured cheese as much as the next guy, but what if there was something better? What if there was a place that offered bowling, bocce, real food, and didn’t smell like a bowling alley? This place does exist and it’s called Pinstripes.

Upon arrival you make a choice if you want to sit in the dining room and eat, bowl and eat, or play bocce and eat. Yup, they will serve you anything off the menu even if you’re bowling. I decided to sit down and eat before knocking down a few pins. My guest and I decided we were going to enjoy simple comfort food, so we started off with the fried mozzarella. It’s simple but satisfying.

For main courses we decide on the baby back ribs and the prime rib dip.
The full slab of ribs are tender and features a tangy barbeque sauce with just a hint of citrus behind it. The Prime rib dip is like a French dip, but better! Tender sliced prime rib is served on an awesome pretzel roll with a side of au jus and is sooo much better than that stale slice of pizza you get at your local bowling alley.

Desserts were admittedly a disappointment. The warm cookies and milk look amazing, smell great, but only taste ok. Reason being that they are not fresh baked cookies, but rather warmed up cookies that start soft and eventually end up hard. The other disappointment was the lemon and orange sorbet. Served inside their own shells, these normally refreshing treats had the distinct flavor of freezer burn.

After dinner it was time to partake in some of the swankiest bowling around. Flat screen TV’s replace the old boob tubes, leather couches replace hard plastic chairs, and smooth R&B replaces the usual top 40 playing at most alleys. This is almost too nice to bring your buddies to!

Dinner for two will run about $40-50 depending on your choices and bowling runs $7 a game in the evenings. A bit pricey if you’re with your with pals but not too bad if you’re on a date. Food alone warrants ** and ¼ but factor in the ultra cool music, bocce, and bowling and Pinstripes deserves *** out of ****.

Locations
100 West Higgins
South Barrington, IL 60010
847-844-9300

1150 Willow Rd
Northbrook, IL 60062
847-480-2323

Check out more  reviews at HungryZ.com

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team 


Most home cooks have a signature dish. You know that dish you make when you want to impress family, friends, or even that special someone. This dish is so good; everyone tells you it should be on a menu somewhere! What if you got that chance? Does your dish have what it takes?

The folks at Carlucci’s in Downers Grove had an open call out for people to submit their best pasta dishes with a chance to be featured on their menu. With nearly 50 entries submitted, executive Chef Kevin Provenzano whittled them down to six finalists. Dishes were scored on taste, appearance, originality, and difficulty to prepare.

The finalists each brought a guest to help judge each others dish. What they didn’t know was that Chef Pravenzano, Joe Carlucci, Suburban Life Publications assistant managing editor Jonathan Schuler, and yours truly were on hand as guest judges.

The finalists and their dishes were:

  • Dan Peloza — linguini misto
  • Colleen O’Leary — rigatoni with portabello bolognese
  • Joan Cerny-Cimaglia — tuna rotini pasta
  • Karen Price — crab bisque ricotta shells
  • James Griseto — rigatoni carbonara
  • Karen Whalen — farfalle with sausage

Coming in third were Karen Whalen’s savory farfalle & sausage. The runner up was Karen Price’s rich and creamy crab bisque riccotta shells. And the grand champion was Dan Peloza’s shrimp and sun dried tomato linguini misto.

Dan’s winnings include his dish being featured on the Carlucci menu for a month, a $200 gift card to the restaurant, and one night stay at the Doubletree. I want to thank the folks at Carlucci’s for asking me to be a guest judge and I would like to offer my congratulations to all the finalists for filling my belly with you terrific pasta creations!

Carlucci Restaurant is at 1801 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, (630) 512-0990, www.carluccirestaurant.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

It’s rare to find a restaurant in the burbs that I really like which is not in the city. I found such a gem in the western suburbs a couple of weeks a go. Prasino, the new eco-friendly restaurant in LaGrange, promotes “green” and is doing it very well.

Prasino (means “green” in Greek) is the first eco-friendly restaurant for Chicago’s western suburbs. With an eco-chic design, and family friendly environment, this 200-seat restaurant is committed to promoting organic agriculture and supporting local growers & artisanal food producers whenever possible. General Manager Peggy Maglaris Kopley was inspired to start the concept after her husband was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007, that brought the family’s attention back to the importance of “all things fresh.” She soon started buying organic products from the grocery store and attributes her husbands recovery to his organic diet.

Prasino’s menu appears to have similar menu items that you can find at other restaurants, but the key is that they’re organic and healthy. For example, their “Blue Crab Nachos” appetizer are served on baked yukon gold crisp with steamed blue crab, mango salsa, and cilantro bearnaise. The “Grilled Fresh Monterey Calamari” features blistered cherry tomato, braised cannellini beans, baby spinach, sea salt crustini, and a truffle mustard vinaigrette. Prasino has an attractive list of meat and seafood entrees, but I chose to sample the “Miso Chili Glazed Alaskan Black Cod” and the “Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna”. Both dishes were extremely fresh, delicate and complemented by steamed basmati rice and baby bok choy. The flavors were light but present and the wasbai cream added a pleasant touch to the tuna. Side dishes range from “Grilled Asparagus” to “Roasted Cauliflower Gratin”. I thought the “Asparagus & Corn Risotto” made with truffle oil and lemon butter would be a dream, but it turned out to be a little too salty.

Prasino has a drink menu that works for everyone. Besides the standards of specialty coffees and teas, other organic highlights include fruit and veggie blended juices, sodas, smoothies, bottled beers and ciders, and sparkling wines. They have nice red and white wine selections, but Prasino’s specialty alcoholic cocktails take the blue ribbon. Be sure to order my two favorites, the “La Grange Manhattan” and the “Rose Hipster”. Top off your dinner with the apple waffles or bread pudding, although the latter of the desserts was very average.

Prasino is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has affordable prices. The atmosphere has a friendly family feel and the service was good. It’s a great place to dine with kids and is located steps from the Metra station in downtown LaGrange enabling easy access from the city and other suburban areas. My wish is for Prasino to bring their concept to the city. Check out Prasino at http://www.eatgreenlivewell.com. Visit www.efete.net/blog.html to view my “Tru” ratings for Prasino.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

After a disappointing experience at the grand opening of the new restaurant Epic, in the downtown River North area of Chicago, I was a little hesitant to return for dinner.  The event that evening was far too crowded and a little unorganized that left me pondering the concept of the new hot spot.  I didn’t know whether they it was a club or a restaurant, so I decided to go back and check it out, after receiving a sincere message from their Maitre De.

Upon arrival, I again had the same thoughts.  Is this a club or a restaurant? But as soon as we were seated in the main dining area, the concept became very clear.  The downstairs bar area provides more of a lounge atmosphere with hip music, couches and hi top bar seating.   The upstairs space is where the feasting takes place.  The entire place is massive complete with four levels, including a rooftop terrace.  Epic’s design is simple and straightforward.  The architecture has a loft like appearance with elements of exposed brick, steel and concrete.  It didn’t wow me, but it got my attention.

Epic’s dinner menu is filled with beef, chicken, pork and fish entrées.  Seafood items plaster most of the appetizer section and they have a nice selection of salads and side dishes to choose from.  Since I’m a connoisseur of lamb shanks, I opted for the “Spiced Lamb Shank” entrée.   Our waiter assured me that their lamb shank would be right up there with the best that I’ve had.  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily give it those props, but it was definitely tender and succulent.  The combination of spices complemented the shank and the lamb jus was pungently flavorful without sweetness.  My dinner guests enjoyed the “Chilean Sea Bass” and “Salt Crusted Market Fish For Two” entrées.  The presentations for both dishes were done well.  The “Brussels Sprouts” side dish prepared with bacon, honey and chestnuts tempted my taste buds.  The sweet and savory combination helped me forget that I was eating brussels sprouts for a moment, but sprouts are sprouts.

Dinner was capped with dessert.  The “Chocolate” and “Pumpkin & White Chocolate” desserts were sampled.  The former consisted of flourless cake, mousse and hot fudge, and the latter was made with toasted white chocolate cake, roasted pumpkin ice cream and chestnut caramel.  Both desserts were solid, but didn’t have me licking the plate.  The service started off a little slow, but picked up as the dinner progressed.  The atmosphere was festive, which helped the cocktails to flow more readily, although, I wouldn’t recommend Epic for a quiet evening at dinner.  Expect to drop $50 per person on dinner before getting your keys back from the valet and be prepared to hang out for after dinner cocktails in the downstairs bar area.  Overall Epic’s cuisine was solid with a good atmosphere and decent service.  My final “Tru” rating is TTt.

   To view my “Tru” rating system for Epic visit www.efete.net/blog.html.
 

 

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

January is “National Soup Month”, a holiday celebrated annually in the United States. Although this is an American holiday; soups from around the world are celebrated. By definition, soup is a liquid food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables or beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted. Before there was soup, there was broth, which people used to pour over a piece of bread in a bowl. That bread was known as sop, and from sop came the word soup.

Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how you can celebrate here in your own backyard. City dwellers and suburbanites are both in luck! Chances are no matter what neighborhood or suburban city you live in, there’s a restaurant nearby waiting to warm you up. And with our fine Chicago winter being as cold as can be, doesn’t a nice warm bowl of soup sound good right about now?

Bookbinder and clam chowder at Hugo's

I embarked on my own “Soup Day” adventure recently in suburban Naperville. To make me yearn for soup, I decided to forgo the valet and park a couple of blocks from my first stop and walk through the cold. First stop was Hugo’s Frog bar to help warm my bones. Hugo’s is owned by Gibson’s, which means it’s bold, loud, and plenty of fun. First soup offered was the creamy New England clam chowder that boasted a generous helping of tender clams. Soup of the day was the chicken and rice and was very close to what your mother might have made. My favorite though was the Bookbinder soup. A rich and hearty vegetable and seafood soup that had just a little heat added to help warm your mouth and your soul.

To get that need for soup again, a one mile walk to Meson Sabika was in order. Unlike Hugo’s, the quiet dining room feels like your in someone’s home. In a way you are since this restaurant was converted from a residence to a restaurant some time ago. Three unique soups were available and a sample of them all was in order. The first was the “Sop de Alubias Negras”, a black been soup with chorizo that had a nice smoky flavor. My personal favorite was the “Caldo Gallego”, a hearty white bean soup that had pieces of bacon and Serrano ham throughout. The soup of the day was a cream of mussel soup that was blended velvety smooth and had the flavor of the mussels right on the forefront.

Caldo Gallego at Meson Sabika

Whether your craving cream of chicken or cream of mussels, January is definitely the time to exercise your love for soups. And if you don’t listen to me, listen to your mother, because she’s probably told you eat more soup since you can remember. Below is a list of participating restaurants.

33 CLUB 

1419 N. Wells  St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.664.1419 | www.33clubchicago.com

CARNIVALE

702 W Fulton St | Chicago, IL 60661| 312.850.5005 | www.carnivalechicago.com

 CHENS CHINESE AND SUSHI

3506 N. Clark St. | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.549.9100 | www.chenschicago.com

KOI 624 Davis Street | Evanston, IL 60201 | 847.866.6969 | www.koievanston.com

 DAWALI MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

4911 N. Kedzie Avenue | Chicago, IL 60625 | 777.267.4200

 GIBSONS BAR & STEAKHOUSE

1029 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.266.8999 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com 

5464 North River Rd. | Rosemont, IL 60018 | 847.928.9900 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE

1024 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.640.0999 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 ITALIASIA

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza | 15th Floor | 350 W. Mart Center Drive | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.529.1157 | www.martplaza.com

 KDK RESTAURANTS: GIOCO, MARCHÉ, OPERA, RED LIGHT

GIOCO | 1312 S Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.939.3870  | www.gioco-chicago.com

MARCHÉ | 833 West Randolph Street | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.226.8399  | www.marche-chicago.com

OPERA | 1301 S Wabash Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.461.0161 | www.opera-chicago.com

RED LIGHT | 820 W. Randolph | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.8880 | www.redlight-chicago.com

 LA MADIA

59 W Grand Ave | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.329.0400 | www.dinelamadia.com

 LUXBAR

18 E. Bellevue Place | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.642.3400 | www.luxbar.com 

 MESON SABIKA
1025 Aurora Avenue | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.983.3000 |www.mesonsabika.com

STRETCH RUN SPORTING CLUB & GRILLE

544 N LaSalle | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.644.4477 | www.stretchrunchicago.com

 SUSHI TAIYO

58 E Ontario St | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.440.1717 | www.taiyochicago.com

 TAPAS VALENCIA

1530 South State Street | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.842.4444 | www.tapasvalencia.com

TRADER VIC’S

1030 N. State St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.642.6500 | www.tradervicschicago.com

 SUBURBAN EVENTS

 CARLUCCI  RESTAURANT

1801 Butterfield Road | Downer’s Grove, IL 60515 | 630.512.0990 | www.carluccirestaurant.com

 DUKE’S ALEHOUSE AND KITCHEN

110 N Main Street | Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.356.9980 | www.thedukeabides.com

 DURTY NELLIE’S

180 N. Smith Street | Palatine, IL | 847.358-9150 | www.durtynellies.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE – NAPERVILLE

55 S. Main St. | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.548.3764 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 PINSTRIPES
1150 Willow Rd | Northbrook, IL 60062 | 847.480.2323 | www.pinstripes.com
100 West Higgins Rd | South Barrington, IL 60010 | 847.844.9300 | www.pinstripes.com

 THE LUCKY MONK

105 Hollywood Blvd | South Barrington, IL 60610| 847. 898.0500| www.theluckymonk.com

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

A monk is a man that’s part of a brotherhood, living in a monastery, and devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order. What most people don’t realize is that Trappist monks are accomplished brew masters. So while most of us thought monks chanted all day, the folks at The Lucky Monk drew inspiration from these age old brew masters to craft their own line of specialty beers. Since man cannot live on beer alone (some of you have tried), a full menu is available to help lead you to a path of enlightenment.

 Glance over the drink menu and you’ll notice that a whopping thirty five beers are available and seven are brewed in house. Two standouts are the “Cardinal Sin”, a Czech-style pilsner and the “Pale Belgian”. In order to drink more beer you need to eat. I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson about drinking on an empty stomach!

 For those feeling a little Mediterranean, a creamy serving of hummus is available. While I do prefer warm/soft pita bread, the toasted pita will appeal to the potato chip fan. A true delight was the warm pretzel trio. Three warm pretzels served with honey mustard butter, tomato parmesan sauce, and the oh so heavenly Wisconsin cheddar beer fondue. The fondue is so good, you could serve it on a shoe and it would be delicious! How about some fries? How about some white truffle-parmesan fries? For a $1.50 more, you get fries drizzled in white truffle oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese, YUM!

 You don’t need to be on the path to enlightenment to know that most guys eat pizza and burgers with their beer. Seven prime beef burgers are available here, with both a 6oz and a manly 9oz size available. Tonight’s choice was the 9oz smothered burger. Cooked nicely to medium, this juicy burger is toped with sweet caramelized onions, creamy Gruyere, lettuce, tomato, and sits on a sturdy sesame seed bun. While I am admittedly a deep dish fan, I do on occasion enjoy some thin crust pizza as well. New York style thin crust is featured here and it works on most levels. The crust is crisp and chewy, the cheese is flavorful and stretchable, the sausage is meaty and plentiful, but the sauce is ordinary and forgettable. The pizza is still a good choice, just not the standout that the burger was.

 Dessert should never be skipped! If you’re already eating burgers and drinking beer, your thoughts about your diet should be thrown out the window. Think back to your childhood in the boys/girls scouts and dig into the hot skillet s’mores. Warm melted chocolate and toasted mini marshmallows make this a rich and decadent dessert. The star dessert is the house made apple strudel. Thin sliced apples kissed with cinnamon and wrapped in filo dough make this a dessert good enough to kiss the chef over!

 Dinner for two should be about $40 since most items are $10 or less and nothing even at $20. Overall The Lucky Monk offers hand crafted beers and impressive food for a pretty reasonable price. Check out more reviews at HungryZ.com

Location

105 Hollywood Blvd

South Barrington, IL 60610

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

Have you ever gone to a restaurant with your buddies and wished you could just order a bunch of appetizers instead of an entrée? Maybe you just landed a date with that hottie from the gym and thought, “Man I wish she would share what’s on her plate.” Here’s where a tapas restaurant can really come in handy. Simply put, tapas are small plates of food that are meant to be shared over a drink. Those looking for that 32oz porterhouse should look elsewhere, like the cardiologist!

While many tapas restaurants focus on cuisine from Spain, Mezé offers a more international menu. Located in the West Loop, this spot exudes a cool vibe. Local art adorns the walls while the exotic music offers a cool mix of international sounds. All this means nothing without good food, so pour the sangria and let our world wide journey begin!

We start in Asia with the vegetarian Thai rolls. Served cold, the crisp carrotts and cucumbers are wrapped in rice paper and served with a dynamite sweet chili sauce. Hop on a plane to the Carribbean and chill out with the bright citrusy flavor of ceviche. They’re served with organic chips, so you can tell your beer buddies they’re nachos! Grilled talapia is the star of the addictive fish tacos served with an delicious carrot slaw.

After your buddies have finished their tacos and “nachos”, a stop in America will leave them licking their fingers from the barbecued chicken winglettes. Tender lollipops of chicken are served with a warm barbeque sauce that is sure to be a favorite. Our final stop is in the Mediterranean, so feel free to relax and stay a while. Say goodnight to the guys and hello to that hottie who agreed to meet you here. Pour some of the smooth house made sangria and you my friend are Joe Cool.

The colorful Boursin stuffed peppadew wows with creamy garlic infused goat cheese stuffed inside pickled sweet peppers. Butter knife tender peppercorn beef and gorgonzola is sure to make your taste buds explode with joy while satisfying your carnal need for red meat. To finish our journey we need to enjoy the grilled baby lamb chops. This super tender meat is topped with a roasted red pepper puree and is thankfully devoid of the mint jelly that many restaurants offer.

Prices average $6-7 per plate with only three over $10. Overall Mezé offers a cool vibe, wonderful diverse food, and killer sangria for a suprisingly reasonabe price.

Location

205 N Peoria

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 666-6625

http://www.mezechicago.com

Check out more reviews at www.hungryz.com

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