Best Bite: As I mentioned in my Restaurant Week preview, Ada Street’s menu was inspired by the last meal requests of famous criminals. Of all the creative options, my favorite actually ended up being the fourth course, a silky after-dinner drink based on the simple black cup of coffee that was requested by serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The top of the drink was frothy and cocoa-dusted, and it immediately reminded me of a dark, boozy version of Julius Meinl’s iced mélange, an all-time favorite of mine.
Other notes: The pork loin entree had great textural contrast, particularly because of the crunchy pickled onions. This dish was based on the last meal of Rainey Bethea (the last person to be publicly executed in the U.S.), whose request included pork chops, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, and cornbread. I also enjoyed the combination of rustic strawberry jam with juicy fried chicken, meant to resemble the bucket of KFC Original Recipe chicken and pound of strawberries that were both part of John Wayne Gacy’s request. And for dessert, Jeni’s dark chocolate ice cream with a micro mint garnish made a fine approximation of the two pints of Ben & Jerry’s mint chocolate chip that were requested by Tim McVeigh.
If it’s your first time visiting my blog, welcome! This is the first in a series of posts about Chicago Restaurant Week 2015, held January 30–February 12. Check out recaps from 2014 and 2013, or browse all Restaurant Week coverage.
It’s hard for me to believe that this is already my fourth year celebrating Restaurant Week in Chicago (and my third year blogging about it). I’m going bigger than ever, eager to sample as much fantastic food as possible across nine total reservations. My picks span a range of cuisines, from upscale Peruvian to classic Louisiana Mardi Gras fare (I’m totally ordering the gator). And like last year, I’ll be checking out Ada Street’s themed menu: all the dishes are inspired by the “last meal” requests of famous criminals. Just read through the choices, and then tell me you aren’t intrigued.
As always, I’m also excited about my dining companions, which include two dozen different people this year. I’m kicking things off tomorrow morning with my first-ever Restaurant Week brunch at Lincoln Park’s Knife & Tine. Check back in the coming days to hear how my nine meals went!
For the third year in a row, I’ve spent all December celebrating the rest of my favorite bites and sips from the past year. These are all dishes from 2014 that I didn’t have a chance to cover as Best Bites when I originally enjoyed them. You can check out all 30 below, listed in chronological order.
Here’s to another great year of eating and drinking!
For the third year in a row, I’m using each day in December to celebrate the rest of the best bites (and sips) that I didn’t get to blog about in 2014, posted in chronological order. Browse all of this year’s Best Bites, or look back at year-end Best Bites from 2012 and 2013.
Why it’s another 2014 Best Bite: This chocolate dessert shined in its pure simplicity. A quenelle of thick chocolate ganache, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt, was primed for slathering on ciabatta toast as a sweet-and-savory end to the meal.
This marks the end of my second year of Chicago Restaurant Week coverage. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed eight meals between January 24 and February 6 that were part of the annual dining promotion – and yes, that’s one more than in 2013, because that’s how I am.
Here are all of this year’s posts, listed below in chronological order.
Best Bite: Executive chef Zoë Schor designed Ada Street’s Restaurant Week menu around a unique theme: each option for the three courses paid tribute to a different female chef. As impressed as I was with all the concepts, I was the most wowed by a seemingly simple carrot salad based on an Alice Waters recipe. The flash-blanched carrot slices and grilled scallions were fresh and aromatic, with a cool yogurt sauce that tempered the pleasant heat from chiles and spices. Everyone at our table agreed they couldn’t get enough. See full menu.
Other notes: I also loved the crispy lamb scrumpets, the only dish that’s also offered on Ada Street’s regular menu. For entrees, the smoked carrot puree that accompanied the pork loin was a brilliant addition, and the classic bouillabaisse did Julia Child justice, down to the last briny, saffron-scented drop. Don’t be swayed by the off-the-beaten-path location: finding this cozy, dimly lit hideaway is totally worth it.