Bar Ombra

Last weekend my friend R from laceandlacquer.com and I went out to dinner in Andersonville in Chicago. We wanted to step out of the bounds of our usual spots and try something fresh and new. We decided on Bar Ombra which was featured in Chicago Magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2012. Because R is a vegetarian this place looked like it had a lot of menu items that would be fitting. And it was a tapas place so we could try a much of their delicious looking dishes!

The place had a great ambiance with walls dressed with old newspapers, chalkboards displaying the menu, wooden booths and leather seats made out of old leather jackets!

We started out with a bottle of red Pratello Rebo that was smooth and tasty!

Next we moved onto the Cicchetti part of the menu for little tastes of different vegetarian dishes. They served this to us all on a clean white plate and we dug in…

Clockwise from the spoon we ordered:

Charred corn with tomatoes and watercress pesto (our fav!)

Tomato, watermelon and rind salad with feta

Cabbage with golden raisins

Grilled summer squash and peppers with red wine vinaigrette (waiter’s suggestion…don’t know why he’d suggest such an average dish)

Roasted apples with pecorino cheese, walnuts and balsamic

….We thought of this as an appetizer because the dishes were not very big but gave us a great taste of what their menu had to offer. Like i said the corn was our favorite! We probably got the last of the summer’s fresh corn and the pesto that went along with it was a great complement to the dish. I also really enjoyed the roasted apples but it only came with one apple that we had to split. The tomato and watermelon salad was a winner but we both tossed aside the rinds that were in the salad because they were a little too watery and firm. The cabbage was cole slaw-like and the golden raisins were a nice touch (I’m going to steal that for the next time I make cole slaw!)

Next we ordered from the insalate, panani, fritti, pizette, bruschette and fromaggi parts of the menu. First we got the Pecornino cheese platter that came with sliced baguettes, jam and mustard. The cheese was phenomenal and we mostly ate it without the pairings.

Then was the beet salad with watercress, gorgonzola and walnuts. Beets are always a favorite to me and this salad in particular was awesome. Needless to say I gobbled this one down.

The bruschetta with peaches, almonds, goat cheese and chives was next. This was something on the menu I was anticipating to be my favorite. However it was a bit of a disappointment. The goat cheese was put on so heavily that it overwhelmed the whole dish. I couldn’t even taste the peaches which were not as juicy as I had hoped.

Next up was the arancini neri, the black rice balls. These were really yummy and it was a nice touch that they used black rice for the inside. Just wish the marinara they served it with was smoother so I could dip it more easily!

Last of the main course(s) was the margherita pizza. Can never complain about pizza made from scratch…delicious!

We ended our entire meal with coffee and tiramisu then went out on the town with extremely full bellies! Needless to say I would recommend this place when you want an upscale meal with lots of choices! Even if you do leave a little too full to move!

 

Toro Sushi

Sushi oh sushi oh sushi, you tend to be one of my splurge weaknesses.

Toro Sushi is my hands down favorite sushi place in Chicago. It is this tiny, BYOB place on Clark street in Lincoln Park and has the best shark mural on it’s wall that I have ever seen (sorry forgot to take a picture of that beauty)! Usually this place is packed everyday of the week so the wait can be rather long, but well worth it. This time I sat at the sushi bar and was immediately greeted with a fist bump by this guy:

He was pretty fun and engaging to be eating around. After the people next to us asked him to “surprise them” he made them the dish in the first picture I posted above. They told him to “give them something that would wow them,” and he topped that off with flecks of gold from a little flask, told them to enjoy, and said it was a “secret creation,” and wouldn’t tell them the what they were eating. I still don’t know what they ate but it sure was pretty and they said that it was delish.

My friend and I started out with an order of edamame, as I always do before a sushi dinner.

Next we ordered the Kamikaze Roll that was made with tuna, yellowtail, super white tuna, salmon, tilapia, sunflower seeds and spicy mayo. Lots of fish! We didn’t expect it to come out in the presentation that it did but it turned out to be our favorite of the night. I found myself stealing the last piece from my friend…whoops!

Next roll that came was the Southern Gals… gotta get at least ONE deep fried roll! This one had deep fried spicy tuna, mozzarella, scallions, sesame seeds and unagi sauce. One thing I like about this place is that they are not afraid to experiment with non-traditional sushi ingredients , a.k.a the mozzarella, which added a whole new level of awesome-ness to this roll.

Last but not least was the Oh My God Roll. That had tempura shrimp, kani salad, cream cheese, mango, cucumber, avocado, tempura crumbs and some sort of “tiffany” sauce.” I love my spicy foods so I loaded this one up with wasabi.  Another winner. Seriously, you cannot go wrong here!

Every time I come I try to order something new so next time I’ll be sure to update with other awesome rolls from Toro. Finishing this post I realize I have been out to a lot of splurge meals lately….next post to come will be a healthy, home cooked meal! Hopefully any Sushi-lovin’ Chicagoan has gone here because it is for sure the best in the town!

Hash House A Go Go

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So I am still recovering from my girl’s weekend in Vegas. Seven of us college friends stayed at the Aria over Labor Day weekend and had a blast walking the strip, partying at the pool and eating and drinking our way through our 4 days. The highlight of my eats was a rather large brunch that we had a Hash House A Go Go in the Imperial Hotel. And good news for my fellow Chicagoans: Hash House has just opened a new location on N State Parkway! The portions are huge but every bite was yummmm.

Where did I begin on this endless menu? A nice ‘n tall Bloody Mary to wake me up!Image

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For my main breakfast dish (that kept me un-hungry until just about dinner time) I chose the Bacon, Avocado, Onion and Swiss Cheese Farm Scramble. It came with some awesome, crispy breakfast potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit big enough for a meal in itself, though I could not help but eat almost every bite.

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My friends got: A Snickers Pancake, Roasted Chicken and Asparagus Hash and Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Scramble.

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Also, this place was featured on the show Man Vs. Food and it has over 50 awards so you know it’s gotta be good. Next time I go I want to try their lunch options. Good to know its in my hometown!