Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: “Last Meals” Dinner at Ada Street

This is part of 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.

Ada Street “Last Meals” Dinner

Night Moves cocktail, Ada Street
Night Moves cocktail with cold-brewed coffee, Amer Picon, cardamaro, rum, and cream

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.

Roasted pork loin, Ada Street
Roasted pork loin with corn pudding and pickled red onion

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.

View last year’s post about Restaurant Week at Ada Street.

The details: Ada Street, 1664 N. Ada St., Chicago.

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: It’s here!

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.

Restaurant Week dessert, Homestead on the Roof
Towering dessert from Homestead on the Roof, Restaurant Week 2014

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!

2015 Reservations: Knife & Tine // Ada Street // Michael Jordan’s Steak House // Coppervine // The Bedford // Big Jones // Fig & Olive // Tanta // TWO

Recap: 30 More Best Bites of 2014

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.

Chocolate with olive oil, sea salt, and toast
Chocolate with olive oil, sea salt, and toast

Iced mélange
Iced mélange

Paratha tacos
Paratha tacos

Banana biscoff pocket and coffee
Banana biscoff pocket and coffee

Savory almond crepe
Savory almond crepe

Grilled cheese flight
Grilled cheese flight

Blue Cubby Crunch ice cream
Blue Cubby Crunch ice cream

Mapo tofu
Mapo tofu

Spring vegetable orecchetti
Spring vegetable orecchetti

Fried chicken and waffles
Fried chicken and waffles

Goat cheese and fig jam crostini
Goat cheese and fig jam crostini

Smoked salmon bagel plate
Smoked salmon bagel plate

Potato pancakes
Potato pancakes

Salted caramel pretzel shake
Salted caramel pretzel shake

Breadsticks and goat cheese
Breadsticks and goat cheese

Elotes
Elotes

Bone marrow
Bone marrow

Portobello & avocado tempura
Portobello & avocado tempura

Passionfruit beermosa
Passionfruit beermosa

Tagliolini nero
Tagliolini nero

Red chile enchiladas
Red chile enchiladas

BBQ jerk chicken with mac & cheese
BBQ jerk chicken with mac & cheese

No. 21 juice
No. 21 juice

Skate wing
Skate wing

Southern Tier Crème Brûlée imperial stout
Southern Tier Crème Brûlée imperial stout

Turkey pot pie poutine
Turkey pot pie poutine

BBQ brisket bibimbap
BBQ brisket bibimbap

The Gobbler burger
The Gobbler burger

The Grill Club
The Grill Club
Fried brussels sprouts
Fried brussels sprouts

Here’s to another great year of eating and drinking!

As always, thanks for reading – see you in 2015!

2014 Best Bite #1: Chocolate with olive oil, sea salt, and toast, Ada Street

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.

Chocolate with Tuscan olive oil, sea salt, and ciabatta toast, Ada Street
Chocolate with Tuscan olive oil, sea salt, and toast

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.

View another post about Ada Street.

The details: Ada Street, 1664 N. Ada St., Chicago.

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Recap: Chicago Restaurant Week 2014

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.

Beef stroganoff with mustard spaetzle, mushroom, and peppered cream Graham Elliot Bistro
Spicy Moroccan carrot salad with Greek yogurt, ginger, lime, and grilled scallions, inspired by Alice Waters Ada Street
Gooey butter cake and The Travel Agent dessert cocktail, with CH vanilla-infused rum, limoncello, lemon, and peychaud’s bitters CH Distillery
Braised pork shank “off the bone” and carnaroli risotto with squash, caramelized onions, and wilted kale Naha
Bread basket with assorted breads, house pickles, honey butter, and tomato-herb oil Homestead on the Roof
Red apple orchard sangria (shiraz, brandy, apple	juice, and cinnamon sticks) at our fireside table ZED451
Prime beef meatballs RPM Italian
Steak frites with sauce au poivre Mon Ami Gabi

For even more Restaurant Week, view last year’s recap, or browse all coverage.

Restaurant Week 2014: Ada Street

This is part of a series of posts about Chicago Restaurant Week 2014, held January 24–February 6. Check out the 2013 recap, or browse all Restaurant Week coverage.

Dinner at Ada Street

Spicy Moroccan carrot salad with Greek yogurt, ginger, lime, and grilled scallions, inspired by Alice Waters
Spicy Moroccan carrot salad with Greek yogurt, ginger, lime, and grilled scallions, inspired by Alice Waters

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.

Scrumpets with crispy fried lamb shoulder and minted malt vinegar, inspired by April Bloomfield
Scrumpets with crispy fried lamb shoulder and minted malt vinegar, inspired by April Bloomfield

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.

Bouillabaisse with Bangs Island mussels, manila clams, gulf shrimp, cobia, saffron-infused broth, and toasted baguette, inspired by Julia Child
Bouillabaisse with Bangs Island mussels, manila clams, gulf shrimp, cobia, saffron-infused broth, and toasted baguette, inspired by Julia Child

The details: Ada Street, 1664 N. Ada St., Chicago.

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