For my birthday, my husband surprised me with tickets to Chicago. To that, he added two additional surprises: 1) the trip would be during freezing cold February and 2) he also made reservations for us to Alinea.
You see, we might not have met if it wasn’t for Alinea. Before we met, I was doing some research on what’s consistently considered the best restaurant in America, and landed on his post about his experience at Alinea. At around the exact same time, he was googling for a lamb recipe and landed on my post: Olive Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Fig and Cherry Compote. (As a side note, we eventually made the dish together, which felt a bit surreal.) That’s how we initially connected, which led to this, this. this, this, and most recently, this.
So due to Alinea’s significance, Pete surprised me with this trip. But before I write about that memorable meal, here is a snapshot of our other best restaurant meals in Chicago.
Riding the train in the bitterly cold winter. As cold as Chicago was, we were glad that we could commute everywhere by public transport.
We ducked into famed Lou Minatti’s for deep dish pizza after dropping our bags off at the hotel. The crust was crisp and airy, and the cheesy tomato topping was utterly satisfying. This warmed us right back up to brave the cold.
The Mr. and I, attempting to stay cool… or rather, warm.
We sampled several local craft beers at our hotel lounge, Hotel 71. Spy the basket of fried cheese curds behind.
Why yes, we did make it to Girl and the Goat. This was their goat tataki, loaded with pickles and olives.
This sizzling grilled octopus and broad beans dish was delicious. We had a couple more dishes but it was too dark to take more photos.
For brunch, we headed to Longman and Eagle. This is their luxurious mac ‘n cheese with ox tail and chanterelle mushrooms.
Chanterelle creme caramel, brandy cubes, and rye, ready for the bisque at Longman and Eagle.
And here comes the creamy, velvety lobster bisque. I wanted to lick my bowl clean.
One more indulgence at Longman and Eagle: pig head sandwich in brioche bun, with tomato relish.
The following day, we headed to Avec for happy hour. We started with the burrata with pomegranate and artichoke hearts.
Followed by Avec’s signature chorizo stuffed dates, wrapped in bacon. It sounds heavy but was surprisingly well balanced. The tangy tomato sauce on the bottom cut through the richness.
I’m a dire sucker for brandade. Here’s Avec’s whipped salt cod brandade, served with their house made crusty bread.
Before catching a comedy show at The Second City, we grabbed some cocktails and craft beers at Old Town Social nearby.
Stay tuned for my experiences at Alinea and Aivary, coming soon.
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