One of the beautiful things about living in a big city like Chicago is the infinite variety of food offerings. Especially a city that worships food the way Chicago does — I’m looking at you, Taste of Chicago (which I will actually be able to attend this year!). You can get off at just about any bus stop or El station and have hundreds of different little (and big) local food joints within easy walking distance. That number climbs into the thousands if you want to take a nice long walk to work off those calories!
And I love food, so I will be partaking of Chicago’s food variety as often as my budget allows. So because I wanted to post some lighter fare before Part 2 of Networking for the Socially Challenged–and because this blog is as much about me being in Chicago as much as my job hunting/networking issues–I’ve decided to create a repeating feature in which I talk about some of the food I’ve eaten here recently. It will also serve as emergency filler when I need a post but can’t think of a topic. It won’t be every week; I don’t eat out that often (but I wish I did!). I’ll post whenever I amass enough photos to make it interesting.
Fondue, pancakes, hot Asian buns, and soup after the cut.
One of the first restaurants I went to after moving here was a fantastic little fondue place called Fondue Stube. I’d never actually had real fondue before (which is to say, anything beyond a chocolate fountain), so it was an immensely enjoyable experience.
I went with my aunt and uncle and their grown children and their spouses. We had a salad, a cheese-dipping course, a hot oil course, and, of course, a chocolate-dipping course. To those who have never had fondue, the hot oil course involves cooking your own entree in a cauldron of hot oil. Imagine my confusion when my plate showed up with a pile of raw meat. I mean, I like rare meat, but give me a break! Actually, it’s tons of fun. And really, I’ll eat anything if it’s been cooked in oil–I’d probably eat a brick if you deep fried it.
At my aunt’s suggestion, my dad and I had brunch at m.henry when he was in town. That’s one piece of advice I’m glad I took. M.henry uses organic and local ingredients whenever possible to cook up some very tasty food creations. They had a good selection of pyramid bag teas, which is always a good mark for a restaurant. My dad had this amazing bread pudding with fruit that was actually closer to a bread custard. Here’s what I had:
Yeah that’s pancakes. Or, rather “early rhubarb & raspberry blisscakes.” We’ll just call them heavenly from now on. The best part was this actually wasn’t particularly sweet. The rubarb was unsweetened, the raspberries were tart, the mascarpone was only lightly sweetened. Most of the sweet actually came from the granola. I prefer tart to sweet most of the time, so I was very pleasantly surprised. I will endeavor to brunch here as often as possible because I want to eat it all. (Or just have these pancakes again, who knows?)
Yeah, I guess Wow Bao is a chain, so it’s not a “little local restaurant,” but I’m a sucker for their hot Asian buns. They’re so soft and tasty and warm.
I’ve been partaking in buns from their Water Tower Place location for years. My dad has taken me Christmas shopping on the Mag Mile for years, and Wow Bao was a staple. It was always nice to have a steamed bun keeping my hands warm as I shuffled along Michigan Avenue with the hordes of last minute shoppers. The warmth didn’t last though–I’d rather have cold hands than eat a cold bun!
I took the above photo there yesterday. I was down town for STC Chicago’s First Thursdays, so I decided to go have some coconut custard buns for desert. I should have taken a picture of the food, but I was too lost in bun bliss to think of it.
For yesterday’s dinner, I went to Soupbox, which I discovered via Groupon. Groupon is a FANTASTIC way to find new food and do it cheaply. I loved using it in Albuquerque, and I love it even more here. Their NOW! deals are especially good for finding quick dinner ideas. $5 got me this:
That is fresh-made cream of potato and leek soup in a bread bowl that may or may not be the size of my head. A sourdough bread bowl. Pretty much the only thing that beats a bao is warm sourdough. The Groupon covered the drink too, so it was a great value. I was sitting in the window and people kept seeing my food, doing a double take, then coming in to buy bread bowls for themselves.
Their soups are made fresh every day, and their menu rotates daily, so check their menu for each location before you go. The Broadway location (and maybe the other locations too?), also has homemade Italian ice. I had the kiwi and it was really good. I will definitely be going again to try other soups and ices (and I have two more Groupons to use).
That is it for today’s Friday Food Review. Do you have a favorite place in Chicago I should try out (preferably near a bus or El stop)? Have you eaten at any of the places I mentioned and want to share notes? Please leave a comment!
I hope you like reading this feature as much as I enjoyed eating it.