Mercadito - taco & tequila heaven

Friday, February 26, 2010

There are very few things I enjoy putting in my mouth more than the shrimp tacos at Mercadito. Except the tilapia tacos. Or the goat’s milk flan. In fact, almost everything I’ve tasted on the menu is incredibly satisfying.

If you haven’t been to Mercadito or still need to be persuaded, here are my top five reasons to make a reservation:

1) Budget-friendly. The prices are just as palatable as the food. All the dishes are under $25 and the tacos – one of the most compelling reasons to eat at Mercadito – are only $14 for an order of four. While the Rick Bayless empire serves some of Chicago’s finest Mexican fare, the prices at Topolobampo match the high-end ingredients. At Mercadito, you can indulge in a flight of three distinctly different guacamoles for only $13.50 (see reason #2 for supporting evidence).

2) Gourmet Guacamole. First and foremost, it’s addictive. One order is simply not enough. The traditional guacamole puts a gourmet spin on a standard favorite with tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeno, garlic, key lime and cilantro. You can also dive into a mole poblano version mixed with plantain and chile serrano or scoop up the sweeter mango style blended with jicama and chipotle. You could almost make a meal of the guacamole flight and tortilla chips…except you should really save room for reason #3.

3) Tempting Tacos. Mercadito’s claim to fame is their exotic tacos, a tempting array of top-tier ingredients folded between warm corn tortillas. The only downside is the inability to mix and match. When you order one round of four tacos, you’re stuck with a single type. However, this provides a perfect excuse to dine with a group and coordinate a taco trade. But if you’re forced to eat just one taco selection, you’ll still savor every bite. The shrimp and avocado, paired with roasted garlic and chipotle mojo, are practically perfect. However, the tilapia tacos stuffed with chile poblano, tomatillo-garlic mojo and a slice of avocado is a close second. You also can’t go wrong with skirt steak, sautéed chicken or even a vegetarian wild mushroom. These tacos are God’s gift to gluttons.

4) Tequila…need I say more? If you associate tequila with sugary margaritas or regrettable shots of Cuervo, think again. Mercadito’s specialty cocktails elevate tequila to an art form. The drinks are simultaneously spicy and sweet, adorned with everything from paper-thin cucumber slices to slivers of pear. The Tres Viejos, a blend of tequila blanco, honey, chile verde and a citrus trio, is so drinkable it should come with a warning label. My glass was practically empty before the waiter left the table. For a smokier flavor, the Pera Te mixes black tea infused tequila, chichicapa mezcal, pear and agave. This is tequila as a sophisticated spirit…but just as potent. Pace yourself to make it through the meal.

5) Dinner Party. While Mercadito takes their food seriously, the atmosphere is the exact opposite. The restaurant’s décor, music and bustling crowd create a lively dinner party where you can feed off the energy and the food. Eat with your fingers, indulge with a couple of cocktails and savor one of the best Mexican dining scenes in Chicago.

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To Market with Mo: it's about the give, not the give up

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You know, there is nothing I enjoy more than holing up in the kitchen, on a cold blustery day, and making a big, pot of soup. I could spend the entire day, just prepping, and fussing, and tasting, til that simmering pot of goodness is perfection. There is something so comforting about this process for me. Perfect example: the Fall of 2001, I found myself making pot, after pot of soups, until there was no more room in the fridge, and the freezers. What up with that? Guess it was my way of dealing with the shock of 9/11. Yep, hiding in the kitchen is my way of coping with stress. Trust me though, I don't need stress to get me to fuss over a pot of soup, just a desire to feed myself, and others.

What, you don't have this same passion for soup making? Hey! I get it (not really, but I will humor you). But you say you do love to eat comforting bowls of homemade soup? Well, before you go and 'give up' soup for lent, why don't you 'give' a bit while indulging in multiple bowls of soup. Take a break from your Winter Olympic Games marathon, get off the couch, and head out to The Hideout on a wintry Wednesday night for their weekly 'Soup n Bread' night.

To get through the s-l-o-w winter weekday nights, and harder economic times, the folks at The Hideout launched a brilliant idea last winter: a free weekly soup dinner. Volunteers, made up of Hideout staff members & regulars, local musicians, writers, chefs and bakers, donate pots of homemade soups, breads, rolls, muffins ,and sometimes desserts, then invite one and all to partake. Now, here is where the 'give' comes in. Though the soup dinner is free, a donation bucket is set out. All donations collected are then distributed to a number of local food pantries and soup kitchens. So not only will you fill up on some pretty delicious soups, but you will help others fill their stomachs as well. And if you do like to try your hand at soup making, then get yourself a copy of the Soup & Bread Cookbook -- filled with recipes of all the soups that were donated last winter, and yet another chance at the 'give' as all proceeds are donated to The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Soup & Bread takes place every Wednesday from 5:30 - 8pm (or til the soup runs out. My advice, get there earlier than later) at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago, thru March 31st.

P.S. big shout out to Magda (in pic above, in red scarf) and the FAB soup she donated a few weeks back. I bet if you ask nicely, I can get a copy of Magda's soup recipe for you....


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"About Last Night..." His email said "HOT"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

...and I said YES. He was beautiful....possibly typical, but sometimes it's worth the chance. My favorite, absolute favorite thing to do on a first date is eat sushi. You can tell a lot about a person by their sushi choices. First and foremost, you can quickly rule out those who fabricate when they say "oh, yeh I love sushi", then you get to the restaurant and they order the California Roll. Can I just say?...that really bothers me. Makes you wonder what else they might be lying about right? Anyway, one would not find a more perfect date than the one I experienced at Sushi Para ii. True, the actual date has a lot to do with the outcome here, but the food, the ambiance, it all comes together in perfect harmony. Sushi Para has a definite Soho feel to it...very city...very much a place to grab a bite with friends, alone, or as mentioned, a date.
(In this photo: Gia Claire, Professional Blogess taking the BYOB...SERIOUSLY)
On a Friday night, you can count on a long excess of forty-five minutes so plan ahead. They only take reservations of five or more people. It's also BYOB so be sure to pack your favorite bottle for the evening, if that's your thing. The place is buzzing with chatter and people speaking in foreign tongue, which always makes me feel, much like I do when getting a pedicure, that they simply MUST be talking about me since I can't understand. But I'm just crazy that way. The tables are close and lack intimacy so you may have to wait longer to find just the right spot. The sushi is good quality and there is a large selection of rolls, and other items that tempt your palate. Now lean in for this little secret because it's one of the
main reasons you may want to stand in line with a straw in your bottle of wine whilst's ALL YOU CAN EAT...for only $19. Good quality, excellent variety, and as much as you can possibly desire. As for me, the "all you can eat" part is nice, though I'm learning to temper my Bikram Yoga appetite, but in the case of my very tall, tall drink of water date, he was shovelling it in like tuna was becoming extinct! And as well he should...that six pack of abs aren't going to maintain themselves! (I mean, I didn't actually see them, but a girl can always tell).
An excellent choice, I recommend you grab a nice bottle of wine and meet a great girl never know where it will lead you.

As for me, the night ended in "The Kiss", much like the painting by Gustav Klimt...need I say more?

Sushi Para ii is located at 2256 N. Clark St. 73.477.3219

Tru Rating:
Palate: TTT
Assist Me: TT
Buzz Factor: T
Pretty People: TT
Pocket Change/Checking/Savings: Checking


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ADL Envision!....It's the bees knees with 800 of your closest friends-Whoopee !

Did you know the Anti-Defamation League started in Chicago in 1913??? Did you also know they throw down quite the party for three years running! Last year the event was well attended by 550, and this year the new venue allows for a capacity of 800 charity party go-ers. I caught up with one of the four event chairs, big boss-Jeremy Dubin, to find out more deets.

The event is being held at Salvage One, an open spaced eclectic brick timber venue located at 1840 W. Hubbard. There will be passed hot and cold hors d'oeuvres so no waiting/hording/or stuffing your face in front of your future significant other at the buffet table! Drinks will include Effen Vodka, Wine, Premium Beer, and enough bars scattered throughout to avoid a long wait. In keeping with the 1920's theme, there will be a full Jazz Band with up and coming vocalist, Jesse Palter. You can wear your own chic attire or dress up 20's style. No matter what you do, I would get your tickets fast before they sell out like they did last year!
See you there all dolled up with your giggle juice, if you want to find a Daddy though, keep those gams out!
( I used a lot of 1920's slang in here!)

ADL Presents:Envision 2010
Saturday, March 6
8:00 pm-1:00 am
Salvage One at 1840 W. Hubbard
Tickets are $100 until March 5th
$125 at the door

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Cut the Carbs?...DietBytes by Sandy

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ever since the late Dr. Atkins "enlightened" us all with his meat-lovers dream-of-a-diet, carbohydrates are both feared and ridiculed by dieters. People faithfully avoid pasta, rice, and especially...BREAD. But why are carbohydrates seen as the enemy? 

Carbohydrates, fat, and protein are the three big guns in terms of providing us with energy, or calories. While "starchy" foods like pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, beans, and some veggies are typical high carb offenders, there are plenty of other carb-containing foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, fruit, candy, cakes, syrups, etc. Carbs are's almost impossible to fully avoid them. Yet, some are clearly healthier than others...

Complex carbs include whole grain breads, starchy vegetables, and beans and lentils. These types of carbs take longer to process and provide significant fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Simple carbs are processed much quicker, provide less nutrition, and include mostly processed foods like chips, donuts, soda, and sugary cereals.  

After carbs are eaten, the liver breaks them down into glucose or "blood sugar," which our body uses for energy. Insulin is blood sugar's little helper -- it carries it to the muscle, liver, or fat cells for storage. Low carb diets claim that since carbs promote insulin production, they stimulate weight gain. So, by cutting carbs, and subsequently reducing insulin production, you'll lose weight. However, it's not so simple. 

Our preferred source of energy is from carbohydrates. Once they're eliminated from the diet, our body turns to the stored carbs (glycogen) for energy.  This causes a release of water--which is exactly that your body is "losing" at the start of a low-carb diet. In addition to the water loss, many low-carbers lose their motivation to workout since they feel sluggish and fatigued!

The current RDA (recommended daily amount) for carbohydrates is 130 grams. That's the minimum amount needed to fuel our brains with sufficient glucose (The brain can't store glucose so it needs a steady daily supply). Some low-carb diets only allow 70 grams per day...about half the RDA! Insufficient carbs may cause poor concentration, tiredness, and memory problems.

Carbs get a bad rap because they're easier to overeat than foods high in protein. How many times have you gone on a chicken binge? On the other hand, how often have you found yourself with your hand indefinitely stuck in the potato chip bag? Processed foods are usually filled with carbs, along with salt, preservatives and fat, which provide excessive calories. 

The current recommendation is to have about half of your daily calories from carbohydrates. When choosing carbs, think FIBER! Complex carbs like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. They're not only packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they (similar to protein) help keep you full much longer than that naughty bag of chips.

The fact is, we need carbs - just like we need protein and fat. But, like everything else in life, it's a balancing act. Low-carb diets are usually often low-calorie diets. Followers eat an average of 1000-1400 calories versus an average of 1800-2200 calories for most people. Any reduction of calories, whether from protein, carbs, or fat, will produce weight loss. So, if you want long-term weight loss, choose a more moderate approach to eating. Fad diets like Atkins only work for a brief time, otherwise they wouldn't be called a fad.

Healthy Eating,
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN


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"About Last Night..." Gia and Georges Seurat have lunch

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Really? is all I can say. You know what really bothers me? when people rave about a restaurant and insist that people go there and then you go there, because they demanded you go there...only to find yourself holding a $50 bill that leaves you going "Really?". Dare I say the "cat is out of the bag" on this one, but this was supposed to be the perfect Valentine's Day Date. A trip to the Art Institute to meandor down Picasso Lane, Georges Seurat (my personal favorite), Van Gogh and the new Modern Wing, of course. Standing atop the steps between the majestic lions outside the Art Institute the day had real potential. I heard so many great things about Terzo Piano that it seemed a virtual must on my "bucket list" for 2010. First, and in no particular order, we could hardly find the place. It was like searching for Narnia with a trip through Ancient Asia, then left through the Modern Wing,
(This photo from the deck outside the restaurant...very cool view)

around the hall by the coat check, take the secret elevator to the top and put your name on the list to spend forty five minutes waiting to get a table. Second, though the museum is a most splendid place, chock full of amazing and beautiful art, the restaurant has absolutely no color, it is stark white, the true absence of color. Not a painting, not a doodle, not even the lights had color. I felt like I was in a fancy, modern cafeteria, which wouldn't have been a problem if I was paying cafeteria prices and snatching a grilled cheese sandwich and jello. There was no ambiance. I was thinking that if I wore surgical scrubs I would have really felt at home in this sterile environment. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I need color...maybe I need motion and buzz in a place. Thirdly, in upholding my dutiful responsibilities to DC as a food blogger, I have to tell you that either I left my taste buds at home that day or this food had no flavor whatsoever. I started with the Fennel soup which came in a ginormous bowl. As the server brought it over I was already licking my lips with the smell and portion size of this delightful trough-like bowl. Not so much. There was about three tiny inches of soup in the bottom of the bowl. I almost asked if they forgot to fill it up. This soup made me break one of my cardinal rules...never add salt. I NEVER add anything. But for me to choke down this $8 bite of soup it required salt. The soup was followed by a wood fired pizza with a broccoli/asparagus type vegetable, and fresh mozzarella, garlic, and butter. Ugh. This was not good. I like broccoli. I like asparagus. But what the heck was this? Brospargus? Asparocolli? Not so much. So I asked for a side of pasta with marinara, thinking that no one can mess up a simple marinara. Not so much. There was no flavor. It was completely without flavor. How is this possible? Did the chef not even try these dishes? Were they lean cuisine that someone was heating up and transferring to white plates in the back?

Two redeeming things: My date was beautiful, and had a smile that could light up a room (and a kiss that could fuel a jet engine), and my most favorite painting in the Art Institute by Georges Seurat "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte". Perfection.
(Photo: seriously asking myself "really?")

Next time, spend the afternoon at the museum (gorgeous date in tow), then head over to ANY other restaurant in walking distance.

Terzo Piano is located in the Art Institute 312.443.8650

(these are new...check out DC's section on Tru ratings!)
Ratings are 1-4 T's, 1 being the lowest, small t is half rating)
Palate: t
Assist Me: T
Buzz Factor: n/a
Pretty People Alert: T
Pocket Change/Checking/Savings: Checking
I'll be back: t

Blogger DC Crenshaw said...
Guess you didn't like it eh?
February 18, 2010 10:36 PM  

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Hey Sister, Do Good by Going Out

Now that snow has fallen in 49 states this past week and I braved 5 days of 60 something degree weather in what is normally warm and sunny FLA- I am ready to start seeing life beyond my couch and fireplace. Yes, it is time to get out on the town AND start living up to my NYR (new year's resolution) to do good in my community. So break out the boa and the top hat...
The event benefits two charitable organizations, Pursuit of Passion and Bin Donated. Bin Donated is making it's debut as a new Chicago based charity helping the hungry, homeless, abused, and poverty stricken in our town. Bin Donated places bins in large residential buildings and dwellers can simply place donations into the bin without walking out the front door! Voila!! BD brings the opportunity to give right to your front doorstep then distributes donated food/clothing/toiletry donations to partner charities in our fine city. A good mark for the middle man if I do say so myself!
So for anyone who does not know what to do now that football playoffs are over, for those who promised to do more charitable work in their community this year, and for those who just have the winter blues and the only way to save themselves is by getting out to a great party -feel good about going to a charity event this weekend-or anytime for that matter.
The event has a great line up of entertainment including :

- Celebrity Matt Santos starts off the evening with an acoustic performance (VIP tickets only)

- "Can Can" dancers keep the night going with an Aguilera-esque Moulin Rouge performance

- Chicago's own Celebrity NaPalm performs live, one week after his EP release party

- DJ Pullano and DJ Chauncey take over the tables for the remainder of the event

Pre-sale event tickets for the event are $30 for General Admission and $50 for VIP. There is a hosted bar featuring premium vodka, Bud Lite, and Peroni Beer!. Enjoy the music, dance performances and much more in both Manor and upstairs club Stay all night long.

The VIP event and performance will start at 7pm, and doors will open at 8pm for General Admission. The entire venue will be open to Moulin Rouge goers only until 10pm, so bring your friends, have some fun, and help two great causes in one fantastic night.

Pre-sale tickets on sale now:


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The Elysian Hotel might look like Daddy Warbucks mansion, but Balsan is a restaurant even Annie could love. It's sophisticated but not pretentious, a place where you feel equally at home sharing a pizza (from a wood-fired oven) or a veal heart salad. The most expensive item on the menu is a $36 rib eye steak, but you can also indulge with a wallet-friendly burger for a mere $14. The order comes with fries, but these aren't garden-variety spuds slathered in cooking oil. The fresh cut fries at Balsan are crispy, salty sticks of beef-fat fried goodness, delivered with a side of heirloom ketchup. If you thought good ol' Heinz was sufficient, think again. Balsan excels at in-house preparation and the fries are just one addictively good example of their culinary competence.

Another menu highlight is the raw bar. The cobia arrives as a sashimi plate decorated with radish and grapefruit sections lightly drizzled in olive oil. The tuna and fennel is almost as flavorful and they're both worthy starters to a long meal. When it comes to oysters, the island creek and kumamoto are highly recommended. I'm a new convert to oyster-eating, but even novices can appreciate these raw beauties.

Chef Jason McLeod, who also oversees the sister restaurant Ria, serves a well-edited selection of small and large plates. In a face-off between the two portion sizes, I declare a tie. Both sections offered delicious dishes with unexpected ingredients...hello pickled quince and guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon). I savored the Nantucket scallops, my first experience with a miniature version and hopefully not my last, along with the apple puree and chopped fruit pairing. While beet salads are everywhere, they're not always welcome. Balsan's wood-fired interpretation restored my faith, creating a perfect balance between Hickory nuts, goat cheese, frisee and beets in all their glory. It was a stellar salad that I would order again and again.

The duck cassoulet, veal heart salad and duck breast entree delivered rich, full flavors, but almost to a fault. Unless you're a devout fan of either meat, I'd recommend sharing (leaving a little more room for another order of the fries).

When it comes to the libation side of the menu, you're in luck. Balsan caters to both the Daddy Warbucks and Annies of the world, with everything from Three Floyds beer to high-end bubbly. Classic cocktails, sake and a global wine list give guests an incredible array of choices. I raised a glass to Gruner Veltliner from Austria and found my new favorite white wine.

While I'm lucky to live within walking distance of the Elysian, I'd gladly trek across the city to dine at Balsan again. And this time I'm staying for dessert.

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To Market with Mo: Chocolate Amour

Friday, February 12, 2010

"My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine, you make me smile with my your figure less than greek, is your mouth a little weak, when you open it to...". Stop. Forget the real lyrics, how about 'is your mouth a little weak...for chocolate.' Yeah, yeah, doesn't rhyme, but in my case no truer words could be said when it comes to my favorite food group: chocolate.

I really need no excuse to eat dark chocolate everyday, it is afterall, good for you (hello, antioxidants). Yes, I am talking the dark stuff, and the darker the better in my book. You can have all the milk (and white, but that isn't even chocolate...) chocolate you want-- okay, admittedly been know to down a M&M or two, but for real chocolate satisfaction it's gotta be the finest quality dark stuff I can find. I have convinced myself that by indulging in the best, and darkest, I don't need to consume as much...hum, guess I do indulge in more than just a bite.

Now, in my constant quest for fabulous chocolate, and all things made locally, I have found three 'to die for' chocolate products, and all from hanging out at the Farmer's Markets. See, it ain't just about the fruit and veg. And, as much as I might like to, I just can't be selfish and keep these a secret:

Katherine Anne Confections -- Can't judge a book by the cover? In this case, trust that nestled inside the gorgeous (not to mention handmade, just like the contents, and sustainable) packaging, are some of the most wonderful handmade truffles, crafted with the finest natural ingredients. I know, I am all about the chocolate but, you must indulge in Katherine's caramels as well. OH. MY. GOD. Heavenly. Katherine will be at the Daley Plaza farmer's market this coming season, but meanwhile click thru to her website for her list of retailers.

Rarebird Preserves and GrownUp KidStuff -- love your chocolate in the form of a sauce to drizzle (yeah right, just drizzle) over ice cream or cake, or use as a fondue, slathered on crepes, or a really kicked up peanut butter sandwich? The chocolate sauces from both of these artisans are, well, let's just say, have the ability to leave me speechless.

Rarebird Preserves specializes in fruit preserves made with seasonal, local and sustainably grown fruit. Now, since fruit and chocolate pair so beautifully, owner Elizabeth Madden started cooking up batches of fruit infused chocolate sauces. One taste, and who needs anything but a spoon? I found Rarebird Preserves at the Andersonville Farmers Market, but for now click here for where to get your hands on these jars of fruit and chocolate heaven.
spoontop.jpgGrownUp KidStuff is the newest kid on the block, hailing from my 'hood, Rogers Park (represent). Constance and Don, the dynamic duo behind GrownUp KidStuff, have been perfecting their chocolate sauces for years. Oh why didn't I meet them sooner, and could have been one of the friends, or family members, who was gifted their decadent chocolate sauce? Get yourself a jar (or two) of GrownUp KidStuff duing one of their tastings this winter at the Andersonville Galleria, or order directly from the website. Once you get a jar of this chocolate heaven home, go beyond dessert, and try your hand at a braising short ribs, or mixing up a vinaigrette to dress roasted vegetables, or keep it simple, and stir into your morning cup 'o' coffee.

Hum, now I have to decide if I am going to share my chocolate finds with my valentine ;)

p.s. want a wonderful flourless chocolate cake recipe made with one of the above products? email me at

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All things Fashion and the not so Kristen Frederick

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fashion + Food = Exercise…right? Ughhhhhhhh…I hate to exercise. Recently I tried to ride a recumbent exercise bike. Decked out in my Lulu Lemon attire, I was sure I was up to the challenge… I looked the part and everything. I wonder if there’s any way to obliterate the little digital “up” arrow…you know the one that keeps telling you to pedal faster and harder? After being embarrassingly defeated by a piece of machinery in less than 5 minutes, I decided to stay on my current course of fitness…THINKING ABOUT IT…that’s right, good old fashioned brain power. For now, my Lulu Lemon work out stuff will be earmarked for errand running….and hopefully, the stunning Anna Fong S/S ’10 Red Carpet gown will fit regardless, even if I just want it for the same reason I save my good china for the Queen’s visit… that's my fabulous younger sister, Hannah, by the way with Anna Fong...Holla! Sorry, obligatory family shout out...

I did get to try out a great restaurant in Naperville this week…Zaidi’s! Located at 1975 Springbrook Square Drive, Naperville, Illinois, the Infusion Cuisine style is Japanese inspired, infused with Asian and Latin Spices…Wow…a stretch for Kristen in the flavor department, considering my love of all foods comfort…I also got to give my braided chain motorcycle boots a try with my Joe’s skinny’s and black tank dress by old fav Michael Stars and my newest bauble from CheriOo, a sterling silver egg encrusted with Swarovski crystals!

Upon entering, you can expect to be greeted by Zaidi, the man, himself. Dressed in a sleek, dapper, suit with a killer tie, he is quite the magnetic attraction! Shaking hands like he’s your bff and hasn’t seen you in ages, he puts you right at ease! The atmosphere is warm with an excellent balance of Energy and Tranquility. Every piece in Zaidi’s was designed specifically for the space to compliment the warmth. Two personal favorites…the chili pepper sconces and the unique red mermaid etched glass, created by Claire Steiner.

Starting with cocktails, a Grey Goose Cosmopolitan was sounding great! After number one Cosmo was finished, our waitress and old friend, Amanda suggested the next Martini for me… Zaidi’s Signature Martini, the Geisha. Blended Fresh Pineapples and Strawberries, infused in Kettle One Vodka with a hint of Vanilla & topped with Strawberry Garnish sounded really tasty! I admit to going back to the Cosmo simply because Strawberry is not my thing…(see, told y’all I’d try new things) …but in the end, they made the best Cosmopolitan EVER!

On to appetizers, we had the Spicy Beef Dumplings with plum sauce and the California Roll with…get this…Black Rice! Both were outrageously good! Tip: All of Zaidi’s sushi can be ordered with Black Rice and I highly suggest it! The flavor is only slightly different than white rice, being a little nuttier and less sweet. Salad was the Arugala and Roasted Pumpkin with Goat Cheese and warm carmelized pumpkin…I didn’t even know you could eat pumpkin that way! Totally AWESOME!

Dinner was the Bone In- Beef Short Ribs with black Mole sauce…fell off the bone and was spicy, but in a good way! Last, we had the Beet and Cucumber salad that ended up serving as our dessert! Layers of Red and Gold beets with cucumber and goat cheese, toasted pistachios and blood orange vinaigrette! I didn’t even protest…dove right in and tried…maybe I held my breath and plugged my nose first, just incase it was too much to bear…but Omygoodness I wanted to order one to take home! So sweet and savory and even healthy…Dessert for 2010!

Not sure where we’re headed next but I can tell you…it will be in my new, all the rage…Cage Shoes for Spring and a military style jacket to polish the look!


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First Bite – Macku Sushi by Rachel Gillman

I take my raw fish seriously. Mercury poisoning be damned, I eat sushi at least three or four times a week…the more often, the better. My affinity for Japanese food borders on obsession, which is why I was deeply disappointed to see Kaze close. One of the best sushi spots in Chicago, this Roscoe Village restaurant developed a reputation for culinary creativity, especially with their signature sashimi and nigiri. Fruit, spices and unexpected combinations made Kaze’s maki both distinctive and delicious.

Macku, the new incarnation of Kaze in Lincoln Park, reunites the original chefs and retains the same spirit. A small, intimate space with brick walls, dark wooden floors and moss green accents, it’s a Zen backdrop for intense eating. The white tablecloths signal serious dining and the chefs deliver. Tempura gets a gourmet makeover with basil-wrapped whitefish and black tiger shrimp, lightly battered and paired with Japanese mountain vegetables over a parlsey beurre – an electric green soup with sweet undertones. The spicy tuna wrapped in avocado was another successful twist on a traditional dish, served with flavorful spring rolls that deserve their own permanent spot on the menu.

While the makimono list features all the usual suspects – rainbow, dragon, spicy tuna and spider – they’re expertly prepared with premium fish. The spicy tuna, mango, shrimp and eel roll was one of the best, along with hamachi ebi tempura filled with yellowtail, crispy shrimp, cilantro, avocado and jalapeno for added kick. To really experience the talented chefs of Macku, focus on the signature sashimi and nigiri. Fresh basil, sweet arugula puree and fried shallots are just a few of the unusual ingredients that make Macku’s sushi shine.

The Madai with sea bream and toasted pine nuts is drizzled in a balsamic reduction and plated with a large leaf for added effect. I liked the Mebachi even better, a savory combination of big eye tuna, pickled onions, burdock root, chives, truffle oil and soy. This is sashimi on steroids with big, bold flavors and it looks almost as good as it tastes. One more recommendation is the Shiro Maguro nigiri, a thick piece of white tuna layered across rice and topped with a creamy banana wasabi puree. The nigiri selections are pricey by the piece, but it’s worth sampling at least one of the experimental combos.

Compared to the quality, Macku’s prices are fairly reasonable, although the sake list creeps upwards towards $60 for a small bottle. The most expensive roll is only $14 and the cooked entrees – including duck, venison and cod – are all $16 and under. While the Kani nigiri with crab and sea urchin is a splurge at $7 for a single piece, it’s still an affordable indulgence.

Kaze might be a fond dining memory, but Macku will create new ones. It’s a welcome addition to Chicago’s sushi scene and one of the best new spots in Lincoln Park.

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"About Last Night"...Gia is in a Filter state of mind

Modern. Eclectic. Chic. Flat out COOL. This is Filter Cafe, the newest coffee lounge, and wireless cafe on Milwaukee Ave. Recently re-opened, you would think they've been in business for years by the size of the crowd. Me and mine decided to do a little writing, sipping and snacking on a Saturday afternoon and the only thing I wished was that Filter took reservations because I almost had to sit on my date's lap (normally not a
problem) but with the Mac in tow, not so much.
Let me explain the awesomeness of this cafe. When you walk in you are immediately taken by the powerful colors, lights, art and hip decor. Large artwork floats on the ceiling, floor to ceiling red lights shine like burning embers, and funky, cool pieces of art randomly adorn the walls. It makes you just want to walk around the place and check it all out cause there's something around every corner and on every wall. Lime green couches, and orange chairs that
previously lived in someones home, or in an antique store surround the walls with small and large lamps that you swore could only look good at Grandma's now add a cozy element to this place. Almost impossible to describe is the look of curiosity that people have when looking at how they've taken old doors and placed on the wall as art. It's like a mini art gallery that is large enough to create a sea of laptops when you walk in. People conversing, typing, thinking, reading, sipping their delicious drinks. No doubt, brilliant ideas are being generated as we speak in this powerful place. The music playing is random and soft enough to think and have a conversation. Don't be fooled, this place isn't just for coffee. You can find a full menu of tasty delights from breakfast to hearty wraps, sandwiches, and salads. Place your order, grab a seat and one of the owners will probably bring the food directly out to you.. Some of my favorites are the Spicy Chicken Wrap, the Turkey Reuben, mac'n cheese, and the chicken chili.
Good food at good
prices. You can spend the day here. Heck, I could live here.
Almost four hours later my fingers were numb from typing. I was wired from the caffeine, full from the food, and yet, I still wasn't ready to leave.
Go there today, tomorrow, and every day after. The owners are so awesome, Jeff & can't miss them. Tell them Gia sent you and I promise you'll get Rock Star service!
Oh know I always check out the bathrooms because, much like the first kiss, you can tell a lot about a place by the bathrooms. I have to say, even the restrooms are funky;chalkboard and graffiti walls.
Jeff & Jeff - you have outdone yourselves!

I'll see you there on Saturday!
Muah for now!

Filter Cafe is located at 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 773.904.7819

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Nutrition Crimes ..."DietBytes by Sandy"

Monday, February 8, 2010

We're faced with tricky food decisions every single day. A bagel or oatmeal? Tuna sandwich or chicken salad? While some decisions won't make or make or break your diet -- there are certain choices that you definitely don't want to make. In my opinion, these are the 3 most hazardous nutrition crimes:

Trans fat felony: Trans fat is found in mostly processed foods, fried foods (some fast foods), and in some margarine and vegetable shortenings. Any packaged food that has "partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils," "hydrogenated vegetable oils," or "shortening" likely contains the sneaky culprit. Trans fat is the only type of fat that can both raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. The American Heart association actually set a limit on trans fat -- less than 1% of your calories! In other words for a 2,000 calorie diet, you should have no more than 2 grams per day. In my opinion, avoid all food with trans fats -- and limit your consumption of processed foods.

Processed meat misdemeanors: The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund found a direct link between eating processed meats and certain types of cancer. In addition, processed meats also are responsible for foodborne illnesses such as listeria. What's more is that most meats like -- bacon, sausage, hot dogs, salami, lunch meat, and ham -- are also high in sodium and fat--which only worsens their case! Those with weakened immune systems like pregnant women, children, or the elderly, should avoid these meats altogether. 

Fatty fast food abuse: There definitely are some acceptable choices when it comes to fast food. However, those that are regularly visiting the drive-thru, are most likely NOT ordering salads and yogurt parfaits. Not only are the majority of options full of fat and sodium...they're void of healthy nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, every time we get a "mac attack" we're perpetuating the large-scale production of "nutrient-empty" cuisine. A random trip to your favorite local fast food joint probably won't kill you, but don't overdo it. And no, you really don't need fries with that!

Healthy eating,
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN


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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I have been told nothing good happens after 3:00 am and spent a good majority of my twenties figuring that out! After 6:00 pm however, there are places to go, people to see, and the possible unforeseen event you have a fashion emergency. Here is the idea blog for your post -work date, post work stress reliever, or a just reason to ditch work all together tomorrow and call in sick-you can find out about my latest and greatest city offerings after 6:00 pm right here. Anything in our fabulous town is fair game and I look forward to sharing it with you!

Why 6:00?

I participated on the Sixth Season of The Apprentice, I was the sixth candidate fired, and the show was produced in June of 2006. I also graduated from The University of Illinois in 1996 and I am one of six siblings in my immediate family. I also find that my favorite time of the day starts at 6:00 pm, (coinciding with the typical end of the work day!) and I can do/go/eat anything anywhere with my favorite people in my favorite place-Chicago.

In keeping with the Six theme, I am excited to share with you Six for $60 at Perman Wines. This time of the year I trade my street festival worn Prada wedges- sadly hibernating in their box-for a clumsy pair of Uggs. Functional, comfy, and warm, but fuggly in all honesty. So I find myself fireside with Netflix and someone comfy and warm and/or enjoying in home dinner parties with close friends. As a result I have been desolating my “good bottles” meant to lie nicely in the cellar until 2050. Time to find something delicious, but not deplete my dream of one day having a whopper wine collection in the process. I stopped in at my neighborhood wine store, Perman Wines and learned about the Six for $60 program! For starters, Craig Perman is ALWAYS there, like your good friend you call when you need help, Craig has helped me find great bottles of wine, bubbly, and spirits in his boutique wine shop. Craig KNOWS every bottle in his store and is excellent at making suggestions based on taste and price range. Craig has over 13 years experience and was a sommelier at a Chicago top 5 restaurant-so don’t think he is just some wine fanatic who opened up a shop-he is the real deal! What is so cool about Six for $60 is that it is AFFORDABLE, offered EVERY Friday, AND if I am ambivalent about one of the bottles on the list, Craig will do his best to trade it for something I find more to my liking. Woot Woot-Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! I now have plenty of delicious bottles on hand that will not last long enough to see their way to Ravinia, but I know I can always replenish next Friday. Not a bad idea as a thank you gift, either! Also a great stop pre-BYOB dinner outing, (Grocery Bistro is right next door) and Perman Wines also has a lovely tasting room for private events and tastings.

Perman Wines

802 West Washington

Chicago, 60607

(312) 666-4417

Closed Sundays, Open until 9:00 pm Monday-Saturday

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To Market with Mo: take me to the sugar shack

Word has it that there is some big ball game this Sunday. Well, I suppose like everyone else, I am gonna jump on that game-watching band wagon. Hey, my team may not be playing, but I can't resist seeing what spendy, thirty-second spots, of creativity (or not) we will be graced with. Then there is always the halftime show extravaganza, this year featuring The Who -- and here I thought that I saw their "final tour" back in 1983. Opps, dating myself, but then again Roger and Pete got a lot more years on me.

Yikes, way off track here. Food and farmers markets, yeah that's what I write about....I need to figure out what to partake in during the big game, and thinking your typical chili, beer, nachos, sub sandwiches just ain't talking to me. What can I do to change things up a bit? Maple syrup of course!

Stay with me now. I am not suggesting pancakes, waffles or French toast for game time, but hey, if you got a hankering, go for it. I have long been a fan of real, yes real, not that imitation, no sign of any real maple, imposter, posing as something tapped from a tree (yes, I am talkin to you Mrs B), but real maple syrup. This would be the stuff that is actually good for you, and not just a bottle of high fructose corn syrup with a bit of flavoring. Maple syrup is loaded with antioxidants (especially the darker grade B variety), B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and zinc. Can you say yes, to strengthening the immune system, or what?

And, can we talk flavor? There is no comparing imitation to the real amber liquid, with the an sweet earthy flavor like no other. And when that real maple syrup is local? Oh yes. Coming from just over the eastern border in southern Indiana, is Burton's Maplewood Farm, who produces incredible grade A and grade B maple syrups. Burton's Maplewood Farm can always be found at Green City Market. Now don't be shy, go ahead and ask them for tastes of the syrups. They are more than happy to let you sample, and more than happy to explain the difference between the grade A and B syrups. Personally I prefer the headier grade B, now that is maple.

I love using maple syrup to glaze salmon, carrots or green beans, or drizzled on a grapefruit half (thrown under the broiler, oh trust me on this), or as part of an oil-free salad dressing (just equal parts of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup) and you have some happy greens. But, back to the 'big' game. I know that I said none of the typical options were talkin' to me, but I have to take that back. Chicken wings are talkin' to me. But how about bourbon maple-glazed instead of hot sauce and butter? And thinking we need a cocktail to go with, how's that for game time dining?

Mo's Mapletini
2 oz. orange infused light rum (ok, not picky, you want dark rum or bourbon instead? go for it)
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. maple syrup (grade A)
slice of orange or twist of lemon for garnish
Combine first three ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with citrus.

Mo's Maple Bourbon Glazed Wings
3 lbs chicken wings (split at joint and tips removed)
coarse salt and pepper
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 T maple syrup (grade B)
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked tabasco
3-4 T butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place wings on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 45 minutes (til they start to brown and crisp).
Make sauce by combining the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Zap in the microwave for about 2 minutes (til butter is melted). Remove wings from the oven and pour sauce over the wings. Let the wings marinate for about 20-30 minutes. Now, if you are up for grilling, may I suggest grilling the marinated wings for 8-12 minutes. If not grilling, go ahead and finish in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

See you at the markets,

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The Vitamin Scoop..."DietBytes by Sandy"

It's so easy. Open wide, pop in a pill, and you're promised good health and protection against certain diseases...right? 
Not so fast -- While vitamins are essential for life, it's not wise to rely on them for your daily fix of "micronutrients."

Until the 1900's, vitamins were obtained entirely from food until a Russian surgeon discovered that fish oil (high in vitamin D) helped to cure rickets in rats. Vitamin deficiencies like rickets were very common in the US until the 1940's when the FDA mandated fortification of common foods like milk and bread.

Today, experts agree that a healthful and balanced diet provides all the vitamins we need to avoid deficiencies. However, it's no surprise that not everyone follows such a virtuous diet. Consequently, a multivitamin can certainly be an effective "safety net." But, there are reasons why getting your vitamins from food surpass popping a pill.

Our bodies absorb vitamins best from food. Some experts say we only absorb 15% of the vitamin in a supplement form (assuming we aren't deficient). The rest goes down the toilet, literally! Vitamins and minerals in food are balanced in a way that allows our bodies to easily absorb and use them effectively. Unlike vitamin supplements, food contains many other health-promoting substances. For example, the fiber in fruits and veggies help prevent certain types of cancer. And, probiotics in yogurt help to promote bowel regularity. While some vitamin supplements can boost health, most need the other components of their natural source (food) to work optimally.

You can actually get too much of a good thing. We all know that carrots (the top source of vitamin A ) are healthy, and play a role in vision. However, once the vitamin A is removed from the carrot and bottled or added to a breakfast cereal, it might do more harm than good. A 2006 research study suggested that vitamin A and vitamin E supplements provide no tangible health benefits for generally healthy individuals and may increase mortality. Also, a recent study found that vitamin C and vitamin E supplements can curb some benefits of exercise.

Vitamin supplements aren't required to go through the same testing as other medicines. In other words, what's on the label isn't always what you're getting.

If you suspect that you have a vitamin deficiency, check with your doctor. It's also wise to buy from large, trusted retailers as opposed to unknown companies on the web. 

While a balanced diet is always preferred, there are some circumstances where vitamin supplements may be beneficial:
  • For adolescents and adults over 50: Calcium (not a vitamin, but a mineral) plays a role in bone development and 1,200-1,300 mg is recommended for these age groups. One cup of milk only has 300 mg.
  • For women of childbearing age: Folic acid (a B-vitamin) prevents birth defects. A multivitamin or a supplement with 100% of RDA is recommended.
  • Elderly lose their ability to absorb vitamin B12, so a supplement is useful. Since the vitamin is found in food from animal origin, vegans and some vegetarians need supplementation as well.
  • All of us may benefit from a vitamin D supplement. Low blood levels are commonly found in people with darker skin and those who are less exposed to sunlight. The current recommended intake is 200 IUs ("international units") for adults and 400 IUs for those over 50. However, it's likely that the recommended intake will increase to  1000 IUs based on research that vitamin D can help prevent certain cancers, hypertension, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. One serving of cooked salmon has 790 IUs of vitamin D.
Go ahead and take a multivitamin for insurance. And talk with your doctor for further recommendations. And most importantly, eat a balanced diet to really protect yourself.

Healthy eating,
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN


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"About Last Night"... Gia Crosses the Line

True, I did cross the line when chasing down Reggie Bush across the lobby for an autograph whilst here in Miami lounging with the Saints at the Intercontinental Hotel. True, I did cross the line when I approached Drew Brees in the Spa clacking around in plastic flip flops just to get his autograph. And yes, I was almost physically removed from the hotel when I flagged Jeremy Shockey out of an Escalade to get what I felt was the "Trifecta" of autographs. I'm a girl who likes to cross the line. (all true events)
But, the place I'm going to tell you about has nothing to do with these fine fellas, it's a place " come when you're alone and want to be around people with a glass of wine. A place to bring dates (my personal favorite), and a place for kids. I crossed the line and went to Cafe Borgia in Northwest Indiana. I want to insert a few jokes here (and because I used to live in NWI, I feel it socially appropriate), but that would not be an appropriate opening for what Mike Jesso, Chef, Owner, has done to bring some amazing cuisine to this corner of the state. The Cafe is brilliantly decorated, adorned with bright, inviting lighting, murals that take your breath away, and artwork by Jeffery Hennecke. The place is just lovely. I took the recommendations on the food and dove right into the
Minestrone, which as my Italian companion can vouch, was very authentic. I couldn't agree more. The Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer were light and delicious, as expected, but the Calamari Salad was absolutely out of this world. There was no breading on the Calamari so the pink little pieces swirled around in a vinaigrette with a fresh salad and truthfully, this could have been the meal in itself. It was amazing. The Chicken Vesuvio Romana was simply outstanding. The chicken was juicy and sat in a sauce that was light and buttery. The vegetables were fresh and crispy and complemented the potatoes and chicken, and the whole meal was absolutely worth a repeat.

When talking to Chef Jesso, who was a very sweet and humble person he simply wanted to make a place for people to enjoy. A place where the "customer is always king", or Queen in my case.
Make the trip, it's worth it. No traffic, or parking issues. No overpriced valet. I say "DO IT".
But then again, I like crossing the line.

Now, back to getting these Saints in line and ready for Sunday!

Cafe Borgia is located 10018 Calumet Ave. Munster, IN 219.922.8889

In photos: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess, and Chef Mike Jesso (right)


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A City Wish for D.C. Crenshaw

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

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 My "Tru" ratings are below.

Our rating system is named after my son Tru. Tru means “loyal” and “honest” and I wanted our ratings reflect that. I hope that our “Tru” ratings connect with foodies by being clear, unique and different. The six “Tru” rating categories are denoted by a full upper case “T ”. They are rated on a scale of 1 to 4 “T’s” with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.

1.) Palate – Cuisine quality.

2.) Assist Me – Refers to the level of service at the restaurant.

3.) Buzz Factor – Relates to drinks and the cocktail menu.

4.) Pretty People – Determines the ambiance and vibe of the restaurant.

5.) Pocket Change, Checking or Savings – Indicates the cost of an average dinner. Pocket Change ($10 - $15 per entrée) Checking ($15 - $25 per entrée) Savings ($25 - $35 per entrée)

6.) I’ll Be Back – Our overall dining experience at the restaurant

Tru Rating for Prasino

Palate– TTT

Assist Me – TT

Buzz Factor – TTT

Pretty People Alert – Tt

Pocket Change, Checking or Savings – Checking

I’ll Be Back – TTT

(**note: a lower case “t” denotes a half rating.)

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The Burger Fiend Strikes Again: Stanley's Kitchen & Tap

(Elvis Burger)

Best known for its hangover remedying smorgasboard weekend brunch, killer Sunday night live band karaoke and down and dirty saloon style atmosphere, Stanley’s is one of those citywide institutions that no one can deny its appeal. Especially if you also love quality home cooking.

Known for some of the best southern style fried chicken around town, Stanley’s typically doesn’t spring to mind when thinking about satisfying a burger crave. Not that I’ve ever caught wind of a horror story or anything; frankly, it’s because I’ve never actually heard of someone ordering a burger from Stanley’s at all. They seemed to be nonexistent or simply lost in the mix of all the other soul food offerings.

Until now.

Last week I had the pleasure to be introduced to a sneak peek of its new and improved menu options, revamped by executive chef Jaysen Euler who has been with the establishment for more than a year and has slowly been transforming aspects of the menu and bar.

Our group, led by the mastermind D.C. and his legion of bloggers (including yours truly), sampled a good mix of items already found on the menu (mac & cheese) and those still to come, such as the delectable Andouille Sausage Corn Dogs and my personal favorite Redneck Poutine loaded with applewood bacon, cheddar, jalepeno jack, topped with gravy over a bed of tots. It’s soul food people, you don’t eat this every day (though tempting).

Poutine in particular has been seeing quite an emergence as of late, popping up on more and more menus across the city and even getting a nod from Time Out Chicago. Thank you, French Canada!

But as luck would be the stars aligned this evening, as much to my mirth Monday’s are now $5.00 Burger Bar night, which comprises of a 8oz Angus beef, turkey or chicken patty, choice of cheese and free range on more than two dozen toppings. Not to mention a handful of fries and dill pickles to boot (as they would say…somewhere in the parlance of the South).

While the new menu boasts a few appealing “Stanburger” selections, notably the Drive-In (cheddar, American & Stan’s secret sauce) and the Elvis (bacon, pimento cheese & country fried onions), I couldn’t help but stick to my ye ol’ druthers and go for the straight up down give me beef and rare together. I mean, how else is a cowboy supposed to get the true taste of the meat?

Topped with a dollop of ketchup and a few sliced jalapeno rings for spicy effect (relax, after a few plain bites), the Fiend was ready for a bib and lookin’ to make a mess. I had just that look in my eye.

And I have to fully admit that I the old gas tank was pretty full by the time the burger arrived, so hopefully it didn’t affect the taste sensors one way or the other, but the burger was pretty dang good. Not the greatest in recent months, but it was definitely tasty and probably one of the best for the price range I could list.

The meat itself was well seasoned and prepared fairly well to order (perhaps medium-rare), but I did question whether it was hand packed in house or not (it appeared to be too uniformly circular, occasionally an indicator of an outside job). The cheddar complemented the beef nicely, as it usually does, but upon a second thought I should have went with a more flavorful choice for a kicker, such as the pimento or jalapeno jack.

The Fiend would absolutely recommend this to anyone that’s looking for a great deal on a Monday evening, or likewise to someone that’s already a fan of Stanley’s classics and are looking for a change of know…away from that deep fried other, other white meat.

Tru Rating:
Palate – TT
Assist Me – TTT
Buzz Factor – TTt
Pretty People – TTt
Pocket Change, Checking or Savings - CHANGE
I’ll Be Back – TTT

Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap
1907 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL

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