The art of pastry baking is a careful ordeal. Each morning, long before the sun starts to shine on Lake Michigan, the team at Libanais Sweets is up making sure their specialties are crisp and flaky on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. They specialize in baked goods from around the world, including Eastern pastries such as baklava and European pastries ranging from éclairs to mille-feuille and tiramisu. In addition, the Libanais staff crafts specialties like chocolate lollipops, which are ideal for special events but can’t be used to bribe the rare bird that would prefer a broccoli pop.
Bluette Café's menu is brimming with traditional French favorites, such as salade nicoise ($17), croquet monsieur ($12), and steak frites ($26), along with more fusiony foods such as root vegetable curry ($14) and salmon burgers topped with horseradish pate, cucumber, and salmon roe and served on a pretzel roll ($14). Savor plates of duck leg confit with heirloom bean and sausage cassoulet ($19) while comparing Bluette Café's chic décor to that of its Lincoln Park sister restaurant, sweets & savories, but avoid favoritism, which might instigate a food fight.
For more than 50 years, Michael’s Restaurants have been sating foodies with a tantalizing menu of hand-cut, Prime Angus beef aged for at least 30 days and fresh aquatic fare. Diners can start a culinary journey through the Deep South with fried green tomatoes topped with lump blue crab in lemon-herb cream ($12). A 13-oounce bone-in filet ($37) satisfies the primal urge to gnaw, and the 24-ounce porterhouse, which combines a tender filet mignon and New York strip ($39), is suitable for sharing or consuming solo to impress a werewolf paramour. Guests can unite the immortal lovers surf 'n' turf by adding a Maine lobster tail ($16) or three grilled scallops ($6) to any steak. Wood-fire-grilled salmon over wild rice ($18) or grilled-chicken caesar salad ($12) appease lighter nibblers, and nonmeat eaters may savor the fettuccine alfredo ($12) or combine pan-seared pecan green beans ($4) with a wood-fire-grilled vegetable kabob ($4) to create a diverse epicurean garden.
This full-service butcher shop and French market stocks its shelves with fine organic and artisanal goods. Grass-fed beef arrives in everything from burger-ready ground pounds ($4.95) to tenderloin cuts ($27.99 per pound), and free-range Amish chickens are available whole ($2.99 per pound), tasting like chicken, or in boneless, skinless breast fillets ($4.99 per pound). Eco-conscious pescatarians can enjoy sustainable seafood such as Atlantic salmon ($10.99 per pound) and Canadian whitefish ($7.99 per pound), and completely vegetarian gourmands can benefit from shelves of epicurean butters, fresh breads, organic produce, fragrant flowers, vibrant seasonings, and more. Groupon customers are invited to attend the grand opening celebration of Amano Boucherie on Saturday, February 19, from 11 a.m.—4 p.m.
Don't be worried if you order a crepe at Nu Crepes and the food arrives looking like a calzone. These are not the delicate crepes made in French-style creperies. They're hearty and stuffed so full that sometimes they land on tables in a circular tin pan. Those crepes might come stuffed with chicken doused in buffalo or barbecue sauce?or italian sausage mixed with green peppers and mushrooms. Sweeter palates, however, can keep it classic with cinnamon and sugar, or relish a campfire blend of marshmallows, biscoff, graham cracker, and chocolate. At breakfast, the egg-and-sausage crepes provide tastier morning fuel than a gasoline smoothie.
Owner Niall Martin never stops experimenting with new combos, either. Such wild creations as peppermint crunch, sloppy joe, and Greek breakfast have all starred as crepe of the month at some point. The kitchen sources everything it can from local vendors. In fact, Chicago's Dark Matter Coffee created an exclusive house blend just for the creperie.
Oceanique's culinary history sparkles with the brilliance of a reef. The restaurant, after all, celebrated 25 years of fine dining history in February 2014 after gifting itself an interior renovation in July 2013. Now the space boasts cream walls, rectangular tables, and modern light fixtures to juxtapose the classic French cuisine that gave the restaurant its swagger. While the ambiance may have changed, Chef Mark Grosz still peppers his menu with the evidence of a culinary education acquired in France and under Jean Banchet at Le Francais. The eclectic dishes, which change daily, might pair butternut squash with salmon or drizzle rhubarb-mango chutney on foie gras. Beyond the signature seasonal fish dishes, they can devote full plate space to organic, ultrafresh produce, such as butternut squash and fiddleheads.
Even with its complex array of ingredients and tastes, the menu strives to remain approachable. Time Out Chicago writes that "while the multi-ingredient preparations border on overwhelming, Grosz somehow manages to balance flavors while completely flipping off subtlety." What results is a laid-back dining atmosphere lubricated by a choice of more than 800 wines and several vintage seawaters.