Jolibee – Chicago

Happy National Fried Chicken Day everyone!

I’ll admit, I was taken surprise by this day. I was totally off the ball and haven’t been keeping up with the ever important “Foodie Days”. You may think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m actually kind of disappointed in myself! These random days are so light-hearted and fun, they make for decent potluck days, and they sometimes make me think outside the box.

And by outside the box, I mean this time I’m referencing a Filipino CHAIN to celebrate.

20161008_150844Enter…. JOLIBEE. For Filipinos, specifically in the Chicagoland area, this was a huge freaking deal when the ‘bee first arrived. I’m talking, Six Flags-style lines, Black Friday-esque impatience… ya’ll really wanted your Chickenjoy.

And if you didn’t catch what I said, this is a CHAIN. With that said, I will drive the 30 minutes, passing yellow archs, crowns, and ivory towers to get my fix. At first, I was such a hater – mainly because I hate crowds and for the first several months, that’s all I saw when passing by. But now that the hype has died down, I managed to finally get my order in. Let’s focus on the chicken – I love fried chicken, and they’re doing it and doing it and doing it well.

And in case you haven’t gone in yourself, make sure to pick up their *peach mango pie* too. Better yet, get yourself like, 5. And hide that stash from your kids because they WILL steal them. And you will regret the things you say & do to your kids for being innocently drawn to sweet, sugary, beautiful things.

Yakitori Boogytori

Yes, it’s really fun to say. And yes, sometimes I say it all exaggerated, as if I’m the announcer for Iron Chef (original series). And YES, I spell it wrong 99% of the time!

But hiding on the shadows of Schaumburg, in a place called Arlington Heights, you will find one of my favorite suburban restaurants. Part of the reason I love it so much is because it is the offspring of my favorite restaurants in the CITY – Wasabi *_*.. but more about that another time.

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Arts & Entertainment Tuesday: Chicago Restaurant Week

January 27 – February 9, 2017

It is for 14 days, but it’s called Restaurant Week.  During this time,  restaurants offer a fixed price menu that usually showcases their best dishes.  In general,  dinner would be available at a fixed price of $44, yet some may also include lunch and/or brunch (new for 2017) for $22.  

Causitas Moradas, Via Lima, Restaurant Week Menu 2017

Though only 300 Chicagoland restaurants are participating, we still have so many choices, it’s literally impossible to starve here.
It gives one a chance to try a new restaurant at a reasonable price. 

Palta Rellena, Via Lima, Restaurant Week Menu 2017

The list of restaurants and available menus are available here:

http://www.choosechicago.com/things-to-do/dining/chicago-restaurant-week/

You can filter by restaurant name,  cuisine,  type of menu (ie brunch, lunch, and dinner), neighborhood and diet preference (ie vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free).

Shrimp Jambalaya, Lawry’s, Restaurant Week Menu 2017

Some menus are set and others may offer upgrades (for an upcharge). It may be best to look at both the regular menu and the restaurant week menu if you want to compare prices.  

Lawry’s Prime Rib, Restaurant Week Menu 2017

Or, you can look at the spreadsheet that this author presented here:
http://chicagoist.com/2017/01/19/the_ultimate_guide_to_restaurant_we.php#photo-1

Tres Leches, Via Lima, Restaurant Week Menu 2017

By all means,  if something on their regular menu looks great to you,  go ahead and order it!  I have also been there,  meaning to order the restaurant week menu, but end up ordering off the regular menu instead.  What’s important is that you enjoy your meal, after all. 

Fettuccine Isabella, Bar Roma, Regular Menu

I hope that you have a chance to experience restaurant week.  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!
–Maeven 

Special Feature: The Swedish Bakery 

The Swedish Bakery

5348 N. Clark St, Chicago Il 60640

773.561.8919

http://www.swedishbakery.com

Andersonville

After being in business for 88 years,  this week The Swedish Bakery announced on Facebook that they will close forever at the end of the business February 28th. According to a number of reports,  this is the last Swedish Bakery in the city.

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Das Radler – Chicago

dr_clock2375 N Milwaukee Ave | Chicago IL 60647

Das Radler is located in one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods. Logan Square boasts a lot of great restaurants, and Das Radler is now another at the top of my list.

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Chicago Culinary Fight Club

On Monday, October 17th, I had the pleasure of attending this month’s Culinary Fight Club, hosted by the amazing non-profit organization, Fight2Feed.
I have to admit that before discovering this event, I had not heard of F2F. So I had to do some research. I’m one of those people who is weary of who I donate to because I know sometimes my contributions don’t go to the hands that truly deserve it (CEOs & advertising vs actual needy people). So when I found out that F2F actually delivers food
DIRECTLY to the homeless bystanders of Chicago, I was more than eager to give my share of a donation! When I have time to give, I’m definitely going to be volunteering with them as well.

So the event at hand is one of the most fun events I’ve ever attended. Chefs, both by profession or by passion, compete in a monthly contest similar to timed ones seen on TV. They are given 60 minutes on the clock, secret ingredients, a limited pantry, and a theme. I consider myself, as a guest, EXTREMELY lucky in that the theme for this month was none other than Chicago Street Food. While many indulge in the high end, fine dining opportunities around the city & suburbs (and there are definitely plenty to chose from), my biggest pleasures are found in local hole-in-the-wall, mom & pop shops. So this seemed like something I would love from the very beginning.

There were 3 judges, plus a “Chef-eree”, who would choose the top 3 winners. Guests would then be asked to taste and nominate the “People’s Choice Award”. Now on TV, the most I’ve seen is 3 contestants. This showdown had twice as many! With 6 dishes to try, the judges, the audience and myself all had a difficult competition to assess!

When I watch Chopped or similar shows, I have always argued that an hour was such a long time for one dish. Then I went to CFC. OMG that time flew soo fast! And the chefs all did so well with time management that I seriously doubted any and all confidence of the notion that “PSSHH… I could so do that!”

Again, the theme of the month was Chicago Street Food.  Most of them had used plantains, and all but 1 chef used tortillas or pita bread as a “carrier” carb. The one unique chef (fireman James Bernstein & his ‘sous chef’ daughter) put together one of my all time favorite “street foods” – jibaritos!

My other favorite was Chef Nicholas Saponaro.

Let’s pretend I look absolutely adorable in this picture, instead of hair ruined by the wind and face melted by the hot spotlights inside.  His dish was out of this world to me – Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich with jicama slaw and crisp plantains, served on a pita – and clearly others thought so as well.


He ended up winning not just 3rd place by the judges, but Tasters Choice as well!

The top two actually ended up tying for first, but after using the Chef-eree as a tie-breaker, Chef Millie Ayala ultimately won with her rendition of a Chicago Hot Dog, beating out Devon Seafood Grill’s Chef David Rolon and his vegetarian spring rolls.

I can’t wait until the next event. And to be able to volunteer with Fight2Feed. For more information on their organization, visit their website here.  And make sure to visit Culinary Fight Club to keep tabs on future events! 

Special Feature: CreamBar (Schaumburg IL)

We’ve been pretty busy the past week.  We’ve visited some amazing places around California and eaten at so many different restaurants in the Chicagoland area!  In case you missed them, make sure to stop by our IG page @eatplaychicagola

This week we thought to try something special though. Amongst the roundup, we’ll talk about one specific stop along the way that stood out the most.  So today, I want to focus on a new kid in town (Chicago):

Cream Bar

The Streets of Woodfield – 601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173

CreamBar officially opened on Thursday, September 15.  I have to admit, as soon as a co-worker told me about it, I knew I wanted to be one of the first customers.  And, so I was!  I even beat my coworker to it – he went 3 hours later.  Now, because I pretty much just wanted to get a decent sample of what they had to offer, Maeven and I ordered 3 sandwiches amongst ourselves.  Don’t judge – we don’t regret a thing.

L-R:Chocolate Chip cookies w/ cookies and cream & sprinkles, Brownie w/ mint chip, Snickerdoodle w/ blueberry muffin & fruity pebbles

 

Let’s focus on my personal favorite first: that blueberry muffin ice cream.  According to Brett, the owner, the ice cream they serve is actually made with blueberry muffin TOPS – the BEST part of the muffin (or at least, in my world it has always been).  No wonder it tasted exactly like a blueberry muffin!  I decided on using a snickerdoodle because I went with a breakfast “theme” – the snickerdoodle cookie became a makeshift pancake for me, and the fruity pebbles are obviously the cereal portion of the morning routine. 

 

There is actually a decent variety of “buns” that are available – and you could even get them on their own instead of making a sandwich (they make some pretty awesome brownies if you ask me. Which, you kind of are asking me since you’re checking out my review of the place).  They even have an option for those that are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant!  The fruity pebbles used to garnish my sweet-not-savory breakfast sandwich are also used along with some marshmallows to make a colorful version of a rice crispy treat!  I considered using their Superman ice cream for a color explosion, but the salted caramel was just calling my name:

I have kids, but I’m also a kid at heart.  Trust me, I can probably pass (not ACE, but pass) any Disney quiz you throw at me, and I can probably play make believe with just about any toddler that begs me to have a tea party.  Stopping in at Cream Bar makes me feel like a kid.  I can use my imagination and be as creative as I want to be with the cookie, ice cream, and topping combinations.

I have always said, that no matter what diet I am on, no matter how much I’ve actually EATEN for lunch/dinner, no matter how cold it is outside – there is always room and a time for dessert. And my favorite dessert is, HANDS DOWN, ice cream.  And this place has been a blessing and a curse for me because it is so close to home & work.  I’m definitely going to be a regular so if you ever find yourself walking in, I MIGHT just be there.  Feel free to judge me and ask me how many times I’ve gone in at that point 😆

❤ Justine

*Disclaimer: Eat Play Chicago LA did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions are solely ours (well, mine anyway) and is not in any form biased.