Brunch. It is not just a five-letter word in Chicago. Brunch is an event. A must do. A time of day on the weekend that is taken very seriously when planning. Chicago knows how to do brunch. Which makes it difficult because there are so many great options when choosing. What makes a good brunch great is the beverage accompaniment – The Bloody Mary. The five restaurants/bars below not only know how to serve a great brunch, but they know how to concoct an amazing Bloody Mary. Some are breakfast in itself.Homeslice [Lincoln Park – 938 West Webster Avenue] – Meal in a Drink If you judge a Bloody Mary more on the goodies than the actual drink – this one is for you! Homeslice’s Bloody Mary is not only garnished with your normal accompaniments, but also a cold slice of pizza and a Miller High Life pony back. Who doesn’t love day old cold pizza? $9Stretch [Wrigleyville – 3485 N Clark St] – Best Bang for your Buck Had a rough Friday or Saturday night? Need hair of the dog? Stretch makes a nice big Bloody Mary (32 oz.) for only $5. And take it one step further they pour it into a large mason jar topped with cheese, olive, pepperoni, pickle, and celery! I love a drink even more when it is in a mason jar.Standard Market Grill [Lincoln Park – 444 W Fullerton Pkwy] – Spiciest If you like your Bloody Mary to have a kick, Standard Market’s is one you can’t gulp down. Spicy! In a good way. They use McClure’s Bloody Mary mix, which has a kick to it because it is made from their pickle brine. The mix is definitely what is making this Bloody Mary top notch. $9Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap [Old Town – 1970 North Lincoln Avenue] – BYOBM Build Your Own Bloody Mary– need I say more? Stanley’s offers a wide array of mix- ins to make your ultimate Bloody Mary. Pepperoni, pickles, olives, horseradish, Old Bay, celery, hot sauce, and the list goes on and on. You make it to your liking! $10 for a 32 oz cup & Tito’s VodkaCrosby’s Kitchen [Southport – 837 West Fulton Market] – Bacon, Beer, Bloody Mary If you can’t choose between a beer or a Bloody Mary at brunch – it is a tough decision. Crosby’s Kitchen gives you best of both worlds. A Bloody Mary with lots of fixings and a Miller High Life pony back beer. To top the entire drink off a stick of bacon is included. No need for a straw when you have a stick of bacon to mix the drink! $8 with Pony Back BeerRead More
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According to Dictionary.com a power lunch is defined as: a high-powered business meeting conducted over lunch. While we might not all be C-Suite executives, we do all need to eat lunch. Why not network while you dine? Do you know where the best spots in Chicago are to shake hands over a Cobb salad?Chicago Cut This has been dubbed as the holy grail of Chicago steakhouses and is often visited by celebrities and athletes. With a wall of 21-foot-tall windows there is no better view of the Chicago Loop and River. Diners can scroll through the extensive wine list via an iPad and the lunch menu offers much more than steak with a large selection of salads, tacos, and sandwiches. An appetizer that is definitely worth splurging on is the Lobstercargot. This is a spot where it’s best to dine with someone who can expense the meal.The Gage Inspired by the gastro pubs of Europe with vintage décor, The Gage offers up upscale comfort food. Located in the South Loop, which can often be a tourist trap with Millennium Park and The Bean across the street, this spot caters to the Chicago business lunch crowd. Two items that are hard to resist--the fish and chips and the venison burger.Terzo Piano Situated in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, Terzo Piano is a gorgeous dining option with a breathtaking patio. Featuring dishes created by one of Chicago’s top chefs, Tony Mantuano, you truly can’t go wrong with any option. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and organic, which in turn creates seasonal menus. Save room the dessert and artisan cheese selections. After lunch, you can always opt to play hooky and take in the art exhibits.Southbranch This eatery, located on the Chicago River is a lunchtime staple in the loop. In the summer, catch up on your Vitamin D count by soaking up some rays on their outdoor patio. The menu offers tried and true salads, wraps and sandwiches. Finish your meal with the cookie skillet, which will be sure to put you in a sugar coma. With an extensive craft beer list this is a great spot to sip and shake hands on your lunch break.The Florentine Nestled in the J.W. Marriott hotel is The Florentine. Among many chain restaurant options this spot stands out as one of the best restaurants. The tables are spaced apart well, so you don’t feel like someone is ease dropping on your conversation. The antipasti’s and wood-fired pizzas will certainly fit the bill.Have your people call my people, we’ll do lunch.Read More
Dim sum…what is it exactly? When I’m explaining it to someone who has no clue, I try to compare it to something similar. Lately, I’ve been referring to it as the Chinese version of Spanish tapas. Essentially, its small Chinese dishes served on plates or in steamer baskets that are shared and typically consumed during brunch or lunch.There are two ways that dim sum is served in local Chicago restaurants: off a cart where you select items as they pass by or off a paper menu with pictures of the items available. With a paper menu, you indicate which items you want and the server brings the items to your table.Regardless of how it’s served, I always recommend asking for the paper menu if it’s your first time. Why? You’ll get a better idea of what is offered and what things are as the carts pass. If something catches your eye on the paper menu and you don’t see it on the carts, you can ask your server about it and they’ll find the cart that has it or ask the kitchen to prepare it.If dim sum is being offered on carts, the carts will move throughout the restaurant stopping at each table and the server will visually show you what they have on their cart. Oftentimes, similar items are grouped together on the carts. For example, one cart may have multiple types of dumplings while another cart will contain various fried foods. As the server shows you what they have, say or nod yes and they will put it on your table. After they have placed the item on your table, they will also mark it on the sheet placed on your table when you were seated. This sheet tracks what items you have ordered and the size so that you will be charged accordingly upon completion of your meal. Each individual item is usually categorized in 1 of 4 price categories: small, medium, large and extra-large. The great thing about ordering items off carts: immediate consumption!If it’s your first time eating dim sum, my safe bets are: shrimp and pork shu mai dumplings, fried shrimp rolls, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf with chicken (this typically also has Chinese sausage and a hard- boiled egg), bbq pork steamed buns, shrimp dumplings, fried taro and egg custard tarts. I think this combination gives you a decent variety that allows you to try some staples but also venture out slightly. Some of the items will come with a dipping sauce. Others you can dip into hoisin (slightly sweet), soy sauce or chili sauce. I tend to mix hoisin sauce with a bit of chili sauce and use that as my dipping sauce for items that don’t come with one.For me, the beauty of dim sum is that you get to try a wide assortment of items. Even if you order something you don’t love, the portions are typically small enough that you don’t feel guilty not eating it all. On the flip side, you can order more of things that you love! Shu mai is one of my favorites and we normally get two orders for our table if we have a group of four. So tell me, do you dim sum? And if so, what’s your preferred dim sum restaurant and which items are your favorites?Read More