I rarely eat at a steakhouse. For the most part, I tend to think steakhouses are masculine, darkly lit places that just care about large slabs of well-marbled beef. Except when I visited Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco with my family very recently, I will make an exception. Alexander’s Steakhouse is a contemporary, urban, handsome, upscale steakhouse and if you do look at their food menu, it has Asian touches. There’s exposed brick walls, booth tables and open kitchen that define the restaurant’s loft-like space. There is an upstairs dining area that is slightly more private dining area that floods..
Hot Doug’s and the line…before opening For the past few years, I heard so many great things about Hot Doug’s. Besides my meal at Alinea, this was my other highly anticipated stop. I know that this place was popular and has a cult following but I didn’t expect a line that goes inside that restaurant and wrap outside about a third way down the block – and that was just opening time of 10:30 AM. Menus & Interior By the time my friend and I made it through the doors, this place was decorated in hot dog kitsch. Mainly in..
My copy of Alinea’s cookbook (without its slipcover) A friend of mine gave me a copy of Alinea‘s cookbook and it was part of my inspiration to head to Chicago earlier this month. The gorgeous, colorful photos and the food presentations looked very unique (though I can’t fathom of cooking from this book). Also hearing and reading many good things about this restaurant, I simply have to eat here. Booking a table for this restaurant is, to say the least, a relatively nerve raking telephone game, especially for those who want dine there in less than 2 months in advance..
Gate to The Purple Pig; Interior shots; A purple pig; The menu When I was doing my research for places to eat around Chicago and asking friends about this question, many mentioned The Purple Pig. Even I asked the friendly baristas and staff of La Colombe Torrefaction (Chicago) and they even said, “This place is awesome.” With both tourists and locals loving this restaurant, this should be fail-safe to have a meal here. The Purple Pig is located in the neighborhood of The Magnificent Mile where it is tucked away in between the glitzy, middle to high-end boutiques and department..
La Colombe Torrefaction, Chicago: Exterior, Interior, delicate flowers by the window, baked goods display As probably most of you might know, I am a die-hard coffee nerd/addict. I do admit that I’m pretty spoiled by the coffee culture as I’m coming from New York City, I have access to a lot of very good to excellent coffee shops here. When I was planning my trip to Chicago, I was mildly freaking out thinking there might be a lack of my essential need in the morning. I don’t want my travel companion to face the ugly side of me when I..
Exterior, Interiors of Vosges Haut Chocolat in Lincoln Park, Chicago When I visited Chicago, I had to visit Vosges Haut Chocolat mostly because this company is started and based there. I came with a friend to their Lincoln Park, which is considered Vosges’ flagship. It is much larger shop than the one and looks more of a glamorous romantic than the darker, bohemian chic than New York’s SoHo boutique. I find it quite interesting that each store has its own personality rather than having a “cookie cutter” template of how each store should look like. (more…)
Exterior of Floriole; Interior; Galette des Rois; Chalkboard listing local, organic sources used; Owner and Head Baker of Floriole Sandra Holl One of my other pastry stops in Chicago was Floriole on a bright weekend morning. The minute I walked up to this bakery with my friend, I had a feeling this was special. The large, welcoming, warm wooden space feels like a second home to me. Local residents lined up the counter waiting to order their cup of coffee or tea and a couple of beautiful golden brown pastries for themselves or family. The gentle scents of butter and..
Blackbird (exterior), At the dining room, Floral centerpiece at the hostess stand When I was planning for my trip to Chicago, I had was under the presumption that this city’s fine dining lunch is like New York – you have a lot of restaurants who would serve prix fixe menus. Except when I did my research, there’s barely any at all but the little glimmer of hope was Blackbird, a 1* Michelin restaurant and their Executive Chef Paul Kahan was nominated for the James Beard Award (2011). For that kind of esteem, I booked a reservation. (more…)
Alliance Bakery’s Exterior, Old-school neon sign, One of its display cases Alliance Bakery located in Wicker Park, Chicago looks like an old-school American bakery with its neon sign but it’s a bakery as well as a pâtisserie. This two-personality bakery, so to speak, is owned by Peter Rios. Mr. Rios was trained as a hotel pastry chef (his previous title and employer before owning this bakery was Executive Pastry Chef at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago) and had his skills sharpened by working through many well known pâtisseries and in France like Ladurée and won a number of awards in..