Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recent Eats

I mentioned the ridiculous amount of eating my sister and I did in my last post.  A couple people have asked about different restaurants recently so I thought I would follow-up with some thoughts on my recent eats.  

Vera. 1023 W. Lake St.

When our early Christmas dinner reservations with TG's parents at iNG got cancelled at the last minute (power outage), we opted for the newly opened Vera in the West Loop.  This cozy space has a wine bar (wines on tap, hooray!) and delicious tapas-style eats. Great for a date or a girls night out.  (FYI: They don't take reservations & are closed on Mondays). 

My favorite picks: Bread & Butters (yummy breads with different butter varieties), Brussel sprouts with Iberico ham, and any of the cheese selections.

Girl & the Goat. 809 W. Randolph Street.

Owned by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, this place lives up to all of the hype.  We were lucky enough to score the best seats in the house, the kitchen-side table.  We chatted with the kitchen staff and were entertained while we ate.  

Favorites: Best of Three (cocktail), sauteed green beans, grilled oysters (best I've ever had), duck tongue dish (sounds weird and gross but was my favorite dish of the night).  

RPM Italian. 52 W. Illinois

Giuliana and Bill Rancic (partnered with the Melman group) recently opened this restaurant up in River North.  I feel like I really need to try this place again in order to give it a fair review.  The decor is definitely nice and modern.  I could see this being a fun place for a date or a girl's night out.  The menu concept encourages ordering a variety of small plates and sharing  (like tapas, I suppose? Or is tapas only for spanish food?) The pastas tasted fresh and homemade... very delicious.  I had the Cacio e Pepe (spaghetti, caciocavallo, black pepper).  Luckily, I like pepper but for most people's tastes I think it would be too peppery. Pass on the truffle bread's not as good as it sounds.  Save the calories and have another cocktail instead.

Another thing: If you're under 21, I wouldn't try ordering drinks there.  We were ID'd at the door (to a restaurant? on a Sunday? weird.) and the bouncer (doorman?) loudly announced to the hostess to tell the waiter that we had a minor with us (my sister, 19).  We were again ID'd when we ordered our drinks at the table.  I thought this was really odd as we were not in the bar area and she was not even attempting to order a drink.  Strict-o, indeed.

I plan on going back and trying more dishes.  I just wasn't that hungry on the night we went. (Likely because I had been a compete fat kid the previous 3 days).  I want to love this place (as much as I lurve G and B) so I will be giving it another chance.

Hot Chocolate. 1747 N. Damen Avenue

This place is one of my favorites.  I've been for both brunch and dinner and it has been consistently good with great service.  It's ideal to do brunch and then walk and shop around Bucktown/Wicker Park.

Bottom line: Amazing brunch, awesome dessert menu and you must order one of the hot chocolate varieties (complete with homemade marshmellows).  No need to see the brunch cocktail list. Order the Bellini. 

Ruxbin. 851 N. Ashland Avenue

This place has gotten a ton of buzz in recent months.. and for good reason! It was recently listed at Number 5 on Bon Appetit's Top 10 Restaurants in America in 2011.  They don't take reservations so getting in is the hard part.  This place is also teeny tiny. We went on a Thursday night and had to wait for about an hour. Luckily, it's BYOB so we enjoyed our wine while we waited for a table.

We got the Pork Belly Salad (Jicama, Grapefruit, Arugula, Cornbread, Blue Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette) and it was my favorite dish of the night. So bright and light but still really savory.  We also got the garlic fries (with chipotle aioli) and the Hanger Steak (wrinkled long beans, candied bacon, chimichurri, creme fraiche, heirloom potatoes).  Both were really great and worth the wait.  The only downside was the wait.  I would love to go back but doubt I will because of the no reservations policy.  

 images via 1, 2, 3, 4 (images in this post are not my own)
*This post contains my own personal opinions.  I did not receive compensation in any form for writing these reviews. 


  1. Some great places on here. Interesting experience about RPM. A friend of a friend went for drinks only and she declared it DB Central because the dudes were the gross "I want to be seen" type and the girls were those attracted to those types of guys. I think I'll pass...

  2. I love Hot Chocolate! Definitely my favorite brunch spot in Chicago. I especially love the breakfast sandwich.

  3. Yum Yum! The Hot Chocolate restaurant looks wonderful, that would be my first choice. I hope you are having a wonderful week and Happy Wednesday!! Be sure to stop by my blog and take a peak at the redesign.
    Twirling Clare

  4. Love, love, love this post! I am always looking for new Chicago spots to hit. I am definitely adding Vera to the list. Thank you! I actually just went to Ruxbin a couple weekends ago and the food was amazing. I am going to RPM tomorrow for a girls night. I am bummed you were not super impressed. I have such high hopes! I will however take your recommendation on the truffle bread. That is something I would totally of ordered! I will let you know how it goes.

  5. wow... what a great guide! i'm surrprised to hear about RPM's i.d. policy - that sounds super intense!

  6. I just had breakfast and now I'm hungry again! Everything sounds so good!!