Sunday, June 27, 2010

Devon, Chicago

Everytime I go to Chicago, I have to make a stop at Devon's. I discovered it when I first came to Chicago for work and staying at the hotel nearby. I had asked the concierge for a recommendation and thinking that they would point me to the seafood restaurant around the corner, which sounded casual, but I should know better. Turns out 'casual' is really code for seen and be seen.

The bar area is always packed with people at the bar on the upstairs, and the downstairs is the dining area. The downstairs is dim and actually very spacious. But I never got a chance to eat downstairs since most of the time I'm there to eat my myself, so I usually hang out at the bar upstairs.

I usually get there around 9p so they start the reverse Happy Hour just in time. That's when they get the specials on everything yummy. Sitting at the bar has its perks. You get yummy biscuit, which is savory and they give you this whipped better that's divine. I can stock up on these things all night long.

My favorite thing to get there is the Lobster bisque. I just know that that I'm going to get the good meat and creamy soup. The cracker they give you makes a good mushy bits that just scrumptious.

The other thing I had was the crab cakes. I already ordered the bar size not the meal size, but even then, it was gigantic serving. That came with asparagus. Honestly, if you ever get a chance to get the lobster, you should. They do it so great that it's bar none to anything I've had.

Of course, I would recommend creme brulee. I didn't get it this
But I recommend it if you get a chance you get to it. Of course, drinks too. Their sangria is good, and their bartender also serve a great deal of good off the menu drinks. You should definitely give them a try.

Devon Seafood Restaurants
39 E. Chicago Ave,
Chicago, IL 60611

Dim Sum Funeral

If you ever get a chance to see that movie, you should and then understand the whole Chinese culture. It's about the matriarch of the family dies, and all the kids hated her for one reason or another. And the mother wanted this traditional funeral which lasts for 7 days. The whole point is to have these estranged kids get to know each other again, and get to know their mother.

What they found, asides from the pain they each carry, and each of their burden because of their mother that has led them to the divide. They found out secrets about their mother, one of their sisters, and journey thru this process to find themselves. It's a very well-written movie.

More importantly, it shows how typical our culture is: parents want a better lives for the children, want them to be Americans. The parents shamed, guilt, and just tormented the kids, nothing is good enough, there's no warm and fuzzy like the Americans growing up. Yet, when they talk to the other people, they realize how proud their mother is of them. C'est typique a Chinoise cultureil (It's very typical of the Chinese Culture).

In any case, the best scene must be where they go to the shop to buy a paper house, a paper car to burn for their mother's after life. It's very Chinese to do that, but the funny part of this was they were debating what model of car and what kind of house, and the argument that goes along w/ it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Giordano's Chicago

The other place that I like to take Texans to is Giordano's. They have the classic Chicago Deep Dish that is well known. Now, I know what you're going to say. There's Pizzeria Uno and others. Frankly, unless you are a true Chicagoan, you really don't know what the best Deep Dish is located. I'm telling you, I've eaten w/ locals at the most hole-in-the wall place that I don't even know how to get to, now that's true Deep Dish.

In the mean time, since I'm not a local and this is right by the Mag Mile and by my hotel, that'll work. I know what you're thinking: it's by the touristy area, how good can it be? Well, so good that alot of Chicagoan who moved away would order it online. Yes, they do entertain online orders. What they do is that they cook it halfway and then freeze it and overnight it to you. Can you tell I've done it and ate it that way couple of times? =D

So, let's talk food, shall we?

My friend Angie and I went to the Giordano's and they made it very easy for you to order. You put your name down w/ the hostess, grab a menu, look over what you want (pizza-wise), and go place your order. Yes, you place your order before even sitting down. This way they can start prepping your pizza, since it's deep dish, there's no 30 minutes delivery here. They take at least 45 mins to bake.

We didn't do the suggested pizza toppings, we ventured out on our own, not very far, but olives, pepperoni, mushroom, and cheese. Yes, cheese, cheese and more cheese. Needless to say, for even a small size, between the two of us, it was alot of food. We both had 2 slices and was ready to raise the white flag and give up.

Notable things here, their house red wine is great with pizza. Their Caesar Salad is worth having w/ anchovy, yes gross as that might sound, the saltyness of the fish brings out the sourness of the salad dressing and when mixed well, it was great. Sound strange? You should try it.

Needless to say, we were sad that we didn't get dessert, but we just couldn't do it. We were about to bust out of the seams.

730 N. Rush Street (by E. Superior)
Chicago, IL
(312) 951-0747

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hot Chocolate, Chicago

As my friend, Angie had pointed out, I do write like I speak. I guess to some degrees I don't really care, as long as I'm writing. Not so much to be grammatically correct, as much as memorializing my food adventure.

I don't claim to be a foodie by any stretch of imagination. Plus, don't Foodie also cook? I know I'm no where close to being one, but one can always aspire, right?

Speaking of my friend Angie, she and I had went to Chicago last month. It was super fun to just walk and see all these neat shops and neighborhood. One that she insisted we go, and boy am I glad she did was Hot Chocolate Chicago.

The place is located on the edge of Bucktown of Chicago. Which is really an up and coming neighborhood that is filled w/ alot of artists and their workshops along the way. There's also alot of upper end stores nozzled themselves in the midst of the action.

Our intention was to go there to have a late lunch. I guess, we arrived so late that they stopped serving lunch but instead, they are having 'tea'. Hmm...

Ok, instead of tea, we have to have the world famous, James Beard awared, sweets and hot chocolate.

What you see up top is a Dark and Tan, it's also spicy. I just love the marshmellow. This is not only the type that will give you a mustache when you melt it in your chocolate and drank it. It also mellows (pun) out the spicyness of the hot chocolate. This is not for the faint of heart, because the hot chocolate is quite rich, make sure you get a glass of water to go with that.

Here, on the left side, are Angie's cookies, they look like Black & Whites, they are really not. They have a layer of delicious jam in the middle between the 2 cookies and they are hand dipped as you can see.

On the right, are my cookies. YUM! There's a rugulach w/ raspberry jam and cinnamon. A gingerbread sugar cookie, and a marble cookie.

I would like to return one day to have their yummy looking entree, especially if their pastry chef is this great I can only imagine the main course.

Hot Chocolate
1747 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647-5508
(773) 489-1747

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A feast at Feast

Well, first of all, I'm sorry for not posting more often... life goes on, eh?! Second, I apologize for the shotty picutres, but hey, good o' camera phone, right? Right!

So, the Chowhound organized a group to show the guys at Feast some love. So, a group of about 70 of us showed up and took over the place. Luckily, my friend Julia & her husband showed up, so we have someone to talk food with... These things are nice, you're never really sitting next to a stranger, because the love of food brought you all together. That said, it's nice to have some friendly faces around.

Alright, Feast, in case you don't already know; is known for using every part of the animal for their dishes. They come from the philosophy that nothing is wasted, and everything is from local. Which makes alot of sense considering alot of what we 'throw out' is considered a delicacies in other cultures. So, why not make something good out of that? I happen to agree, but just don't tell me what I'm eating, that'll be fine. Haha...

Their space is really an old house. You walk in to the 'sun room' where the they can fit several tables, and the main dining can fit 3 large tables and the official dining room can house 2 large long tables that serves 12+ people. The upstairs is just as spectacular. They have a small patio over looks Westheimer, a private dining room. But the most impressive, and on your way to the bathroom, is the wine room where they also cure the meat (see above). I have no idea how deep the room is, all I know it's that it's pretty awesome to see restaurant cared enough to cure their own meat. Don't worry, it is away from the said bathrooms, you see this on your way... not near it.

There are rumors that they didn't get enough love, therefore moving to New Orleans. I'm here to tell you that, I heard it from the chefs mouth(s), they are not moving. As a matter of fact, they are opening a 2nd location, which will be in New Orleans. So... they're here to stay... for the time being, anyhow.

Alright, onto the food:
Cauliflower Vichyssoise

Recommended wine pairing: Domaine de la Janasse,

Merlot Syrah, Southern Rhone, France 2007

Smoked Mackerel Pate & Exmoor Toast
Recommended Wine Pairing:
San Clodio, Treixadura/Gordello blend, Ribeiro, Calicia, Spain 2007

Cheese Crusted Pig's Ear Cake

Recommneded Wine Pairing:

Jimenez-Landi ' Sotorrondero', Mentrida, Spain 2006

Roasted Side of Tilefish w/ Braised Vegetables

Recommended Wine Pairing:

Clos des Allees Old Vine Muscadet, Loire, France 2006

Bath Chaps, Garlic Rutabaga & Mustard Greens

Recommended Wine Pairing:

Umathum, Zweigelt, Burgenland, Austria 2007

Lemon Hazelnut Cake

Sticky Toffee Pudding & Treacle Tart
My review:
The soup is served cold and let me tell you in a hot, humid day as we get plenty of them in Houston, that was very refreshing. They have a small bit of nut and raisins in them, but make no mistake, you can taste the cauliflower, and you are not just having something sweet in your soup.
The Mackerel Pate and Toast are super yummy. I highly recommend adding the lemon to bring out the flavor potentials that is hidden in the food. I know the first hand, when you thought of pate is dry and unpleasant, at least that's what I grew up with. But, when you get to taste the pate, you know that it's hand grinded and molded in-house. Not a dry bit in the mix. The toast help bring out the salty bit of the pate as well. Thumbs up!
The Pig's Ear Cake, to be honest, I was sorta hoping to see a little pig ear on my plate. But they molded it into a thick cake like texture, just about as thick as a Texas Toast, and layered a thick layer of cheese on top. It tasted like pizza. As a matter of fact, had they sold it as a pizza, I would absolutely order that on the menu. Talk about great and not needing to know what you ate.
The Tilefish was most disappointing at best. The presentation was wonderful, they served the fish head first, biting on a piece of orange. Bring back the very image of the pig biting on an apple. We passed it around and ate whatever we can get from the head. The fish itself were served separately. The vegetable and the fish were more bland and was up-played by the dishes preceding it. The dishes before were so flavorful that you were hoping that the fish would be too, but it was more blend, and dare I say it here? I had to put a bit of salt on it. Gasp!
The Bath Chaps were great in presentation, however, at this point, we were all slowly filled up to the rim that I don't think I gave it a proper test and appreciation as I did w/ the other dishes. What is a Bath Chaps is the question on the table... without looking it up, it really tasted like bacon, and anything that tasted like bacon cannot be bad, right?! Truthfully, tho, the piece of chap have so much fat on it that I cannot bring myself to eat too much of it. Not to mention, I have to save room for dessert.
Desserts were great, we had lemon hazelnut cake, chocolate molten cake (no picture), sticky toffee pudding, and treacle tart. The lemon hazelnut cake wasn't as zesty as I was expecting, so it was nice a mellow mixed w/ the nut and fresh cream. Chocolate molten cake was pretty standard, the cake itself was denser than I would like, but chocolate oozed out just the same. Sticky Toffee Pudding is very much the trend, as much of a trend as the French macaron, mixed w/ creme it was nice and thick and not as sticky as I had expected. The treacle tart is something new. It's basically a golden syrup cake held in a thin crust. I enjoyed the crust tremendously, and the cake itself was good. The best thing is to add the lemon curd to go w/ the cake. Definitely different and not what you normally would get at a restaurant. It's very British of a dessert.
I didn't do the wine pairing and from my companion, some of the pairing doesn't match the food palette as one would hoped. Couple of the wine were too sweet for the dish presented. But, you know, taste palatte is really a subjective thing, so take it what you will.
Overall, it cured my curiosity about the restaurant. I would go back and try other dishes for sure. This experience however, was more like a B+ experience... the dishes were building you up to a climax (the fish) and it was very anti-climatic. I would hate to use a blanket statement and say that the guys can do meat better than fish, but that's certainly the case that night. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
Try the bread when you go, their sourdough is to die for. By the way, there's no parking around, so you can either try the street parking across the way, or do $3 valet.
219 Westhimer
Houston, TX