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 #18: Portobello & avocado tempura, Oiistar

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.

Portobello & avocado tempura, Oiistar
Portobello & avocado tempura with parsley, parmesan, and shiso pesto mayo

Why it’s another 2014 Best Bite: I’m a bit of an avocado fanatic, so when I saw this tempura appetizer on Oiistar’s menu, I knew I had to make a return trip to try it. The umami in the portobello worked well with the creaminess of the avocado, and the pesto shiso mayo made a bright dipping sauce – that is, once I found it under the heavy dusting of parmesan and parsley.

View another Best Bite from Oiistar.

The details: Oiistar, 1385 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

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This week’s Best Bite: Musclemen ramen, Oiistar

Musclemen ramen with mussels, onion, chili pepper, scallion, and bonito miso
Musclemen ramen with mussels, onion, chili pepper, scallion, and bonito miso

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: When a ramen craving struck me on a snowy afternoon, I popped over to Oiistar, a relatively new Wicker Park spot I’d been eyeing. Bypassing all the tempting varieties of bao, and even the avocado tempura – next time! – I zeroed in on a mussel-centric ramen. Besides at least a dozen plump mussels, the giant bowl also contained an umami-rich seafood broth with chewy noodles, two kinds of onion, and tons of garlic. Moderately spicy chiles also upped the soup’s warmth factor. Happily rotating between slurps of noodles, mussels, and broth, I settled in with a book and soaked up the sounds of the restaurant’s catchy R&B playlist.

The details: Oiistar, 1385 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

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