This time of year is always a time full of family, magic, and holiday cheer, but it is also always a time of frantic planning, shopping, hosting, and altogether chaos. Some nights, I just need a short break. A few hours where I am able to relax, dine, and drink with adults. I replace the Doc McStuffins theme song with jazzy lounge music. I replace the yoga pants and slippers with fitted pants and some boots. Continue reading “Hubbard Inn Winter Menu Preview”
Kanela Breakfast Club
5413 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640
“Breakfast is the important meal of the day” is how the saying goes (though, this may be up for debate to some). For me, I can have breakfast any time of the day and still feel satiated, especially from Kanela Breakfast Club.
They pride themselves on using fresh and local produce whenever possible, with dishes reminiscent of what Mom used to make with a twist (to ad-lib from their website).
They have dishes that are very healthy and light as well as those that are savory and have a comfort feel to them. I had a pretty stressful week, so I was aiming for one of their more comfort food type of breakfast.
Some of their (adult) drinks that we have tried include: Kanela Mimosa, Sofiemosa, Bloody Mary, and Cinnamon Toast Brunch.
They also offer fresh squeezed juices and blended smoothies, as well as fresh brewed coffee from La Colombe.
At first glance of the menu, I was thinking, “I could eat ALL of this!” because they all looked so good! From what we were able to try, we were not disappointed at all!
Kanela French Toast
A couple of times when we were there, we sat at the bar. There was a tv above it where movies would show (that day it was “Rogue One,” with captions) and the music would play overhead. The two bartenders that were there were very friendly and kept wanting to give me more coffee (not a bad thing!) We discussed the movie and our thoughts on the entire Star Wars movie franchise. On the overhead, the song “Africa” from Toto was playing. When the part of the song go to the chorus, the wait staff broke into song and harmonized (beautifully, I might add):
“Its gonna take a lot to take me away from you/ There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do/ I bless the rains down in Africa/ Gonna take some time to do the things we never had…”
In fact some of the patrons sang/hummed along (like me…and you too! – don’t deny it), because really, how can you NOT sing along to Toto’s “Africa?”
Then, I found myself looking around, feeling almost nostalgic.
I had grown up in this neighborhood – my first job was literally kitty-corner from this place (R.I.P. The Swedish Bakery!) Looking around at the tables at the men, women and children – a white man and a black woman, a trans couple, a family, a multi-racial group of friends (or couples double-dating?), and then at my show-toony, coffee-pushing bartenders, I felt such happiness and such pride. Grateful and lucky to be witness to the openness and acceptance of this space and this neighborhood. I sat, breathed in, and appreciated the moment.
I mentioned earlier about my stressful week. Well, my time at Kanela ended that and left me with my hands full of Joe (thanks again to my legal caffeine pushers!), my belly filled with yumminess, and my heart overflowing with love.
Kanela Breakfast Club has five other locations, in addition to the one in Andersonville. Thats SIX places to choose from to enjoy their food and feel the love!
Have you been there as well? What was your experience like? Please leave your comments in the box below!
Even though our visit to Washington D.C. was going to be short, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to enjoy one of the top restaurants in the area (the question was which one?) Well, Bad Saint was literally steps from where we were staying, so it would be foolhardy to pass up this opportunity.
Bad Saint is a Filipino Restaurant with limited seating and they take no reservations. It is usually advised to come an hour or more before opening.
Having been raised by my Filipino Mom and having grown up on Filipino cuisine, why would I wait in line for something so familiar? Even though it may be the same recipe, the dish will vary in flavor/style from island to island, and even from family to family.
I just wanted to see how their “house” recipes compare and contrast to ours.
What is Filipino food exactly? There isn’t a concrete answer to that, and opinions differ from person to person, depending on who you ask. The best answer I have from what I know of Filipino food is that it is a mix of a lot of things: Spanish, a variety of Asian influences (Chinese, Japanese and Korean, for example) and Indonesian, to name a few. There is not a lot of sweet, but sour and salty. There are dishes that are light and others that are heavy and comforting.
Yeah, the food is pretty diverse.
When they had opened, there was already a big party at the head of the line. I believe the largest table they had sits 4 or 6 people. The line moved quickly and we advanced a few feet. Already they were at capacity. They were taking names and phone numbers so they could text you when a table is ready.
I came prepared for this already. I wasn’t too hungry yet and already planned to head back to our place to wait my turn. I expected at least an hour and a half wait.
Then the Hostess announced that they had one seat available and asked if anyone was dining solo. Hey, that would be me!
I raised my hand so high and fast, that I was literally standing on my toes. The Hostess gestured to me and I followed her in.
Yeah, maybe it looked sad that I was eating alone, but I was far from being sad – I was happy that I did not have to wait over an hour to eat here after all!
I was seated along the windows on a high seat. The bar ledge was edged with Mahjong tiles, and I was immediately reminded of the late nights with my Uncles and Cousins with the sounds of tiles getting “shuffled” on the card table.
When I was handed the menu, I was advised that the chef changes the selections often.
I may not have been hungry outside, but I was now. The kitchen was literally behind me and, whatever they were cooking was making my mouth water.
I also accepted the fact that I was going to smell like food after this.
I decided to go with 3 dishes (mostly because I couldn’t make up my mind!)
I started with Kinilaw Na Pugita, which was octopus with fingerling potatoes and sliced Queen Olives in a vinagrette.
I want to say we had something similar to this but with squid once. I did like the olives in this version.
Next was Bulalo, a bone marrow stew with corn, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, green chili and a side of a vinegary fish sauce for more seasoning. I couldn’t resist getting this as I am a fan of this stew!
The stew was delicious and reminded me of how my Mom makes it. In fact, its hard to say, whose is better.
The last dish I tried was Pancit Na Hipon, made with glass noodles, pork belly (mmm pork belly 😍), shrimp and chili.
Pancit is one of those dishes that takes many forms, usually dependent on the type of noodle. When my Mom makes pancit, its with a rice noodle. My aunt makes her with a thicker, almost lo mein style type noodle. With the noodles, you can add any type of protein (ie chicken, pork or shellfish) and sliced vegetables (ie celery, carrots, green onions) and don’t forget the fish sauce! Having the pancit with the glass noodle was an interesting take. It almost slid in my mouth from the sauce and the pork belly. The peanuts added crunch and the chilis some heat (even though I asked for it to be mild). I really did like it.
At the end I was given, what reminded me of Turon, Banana Lumpia with Caramel Sauce. However, the Hostess called it something else (I think, because it didnt sound like Turon). The outside was a crispy and flaky egg roll wrapper, coated in a sticky caramel with a ripe and sweet banana inside. Anyway, it was still good, no matter what it was.
Overall it was a great meal. I wished I had more room to try the rest. I definitely would go back if I had another opportunity.
Have you also been to Bad Saint? How did it go? Leave your comments below!
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
218 W Kinzie Street
Chicago, IL 60654
I have to admit, I do appreciate some really tender steak! This place had some great reviews on Yelp and from some friends of ours who have been there before. Reservations are usually booked for weeks on end, so its best to put in your request months in advance. Usually I am pretty good at that (key word is “usually”).
This year, for my birthday, I wanted to go, but with all that was going on, I forgot to put in my reservation (oops!) So, we made a plan: we would go there when they are just opened (around 4:30p or 5pm) and just wait at the bar until our table is ready. I figured that, by the time they get to us (which was about an hour), we would have been hungry enough (but not too hungry) to enjoy our dinner.
When we had arrived, it was just as we had expected – it was at least an hour to an hour and a half wait for walk-ins. This was not a problem (again, this was expected), so we stated that we would wait at the bar.
We started with a dozen fresh oysters with our drinks. Half were from the East Coast and the other half were from the West Coast. I remember hearing or reading once that oysters are technically the same wherever you get them, and that their flavor comes from the area (depending on water quality, minerals and environmental factors) that they were harvested in. The bartender explained to us the areas they all had come from. There was one set that was from the Pacific, near Hawaii, that I felt tasted the best overall.
Not too long after we had finished our oysters and drinks, our table was ready. The tables were wooden and the plates at each setting were different (mismatched). They all were really dainty and pretty though, and I felt that it added character.
Our next appetizer was Peppered Duck with Goat Cheese Terrine with Apricot Mustard and Toast.
For our main entrees, my brother and I had the Dry Aged Bone-In Ribeye (22oz, 42 day aged) with bearnese and steak salt. I added roasted bone marrow as an enhancement.
My husband ordered the Shaved Prime Beef Sandwich with Au Jus.
We also had sides of Candied Sweet Potato with Bourbon Glaze and Elote Style Corn.
For dessert, I had the Hot Fudge Sundae Royale (it came with a sparkler!) There were eight to ten candy toppings that you can add to the sundae (or enjoy on their own!) My brother and husband were so full, they just had drinks.
Overall, the food was delicious! My steak was cooked beautifully – I usually order medium rare, and places tend to go over that. The bone marrow, I had on its on, and smeared on some of the steak, and I was in carnivore heaven! My husband loved his sandwich – the beef was still moist and tender, even without the Au Jus. I definitely would come here again. Next time for one of these:
There you have it! Have you been here also? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!
4514 N. Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
“Whenever I eat here, I feel like I was at my friends Mom or Grandma’s house…”
200 South Halsted
I originally started coming here when I was at UIC (that’s the University of Illinois at Chicago for those who aren’t local). Whenever I ate there, I felt like I was at someone’s house eating something their Grandmother just made. The food was rich and full of flavor, and everything was so fresh. From previous experience, after being in business for several years (or more), sometimes the taste changes (and sometimes not in a good way). So now, the question is: “Will Greek Islands be the same?”
We started with the Saganaki. Yes, its very cliché, but its one of the first things I tried from here, and it’s a classic.
After one bite of each, it was confirmed, a done deal, the last nail being hammered into the coffin…
After a taste of each dish, you can taste the freshness of the ingredients, I was still reminded of my friend’s Mother/Grandmother, so yes, this place still has it.
I also forgot that this place imports their olive oil straight from Greece (another explanation as to why everything is so good!)
Hopefully you will get to try for yourself!
“You had me at fresh pasta!”
Nando Milano Trattoria
2114 W. Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
This last month was pretty stressful for me, which ended at exactly 1:30pm CDT on Friday, September 30th (not like I was counting down the minutes). So what do I do when I want to relax (other than sing-along to a Backstreet Boys song on my drive back?) This girl got her hair done and treated herself out to dinner!
My hairdresser living in UkranianVillage, and I knew that, regardless of where I went, I wasn’t going to be disappointed. So, I looked on Yelp and I found this gem: Nando Milano Trattoria. They had a lot of good reviews and, when I looked at the menu, I saw this:
That sealed the deal for me as I have a weak spot for fresh pasta.
Was I their first patron of the day? Yes. Did I care? No (especially since I didn’t have a lunch that day, this gal was starving!)
I started with the Polenta Ghiotta, which was an organic crispy polenta with mushroom, cheese fondue and a creamy porcini sauce. The polenta was firm and not soggy with that perfect crisp on the outside. It absorbed the cheese and porcini sauce beautifully.
Next, I went with their (fresh-made) Orechiette Special that had a ground wild boar ragout in tomato sauce. The wild boar was not gamey at all and it was tender. (Sometimes with the wild game meats, they can be gamey and/or chewy or tough – this one wasn’t). If you have ever had fresh pasta, you know how good it can be – you taste the freshness of the eggs and flour, which was what the orecchiette had.
I was asked if I would like dessert. Technically I was full, but I wanted to hear what they had. I heard their tiramisu, their cannoli, their profiteroles…and then I heard bombolone. When I asked what their bombolone was, it was described to me as a donut filled with Nutella and, before he could even finish the sentence, I said, “I will have that!”
It was so beautiful, it was almost a shame to eat it.
So for Nando Milano Trattoria, with this meal, it was not only fresh, delicious and flavorful, but you had also brought me comfort and soothed me after a rough few weeks. Thank you, it was a pleasure, indeed!
Bring your children, bring your husbands, bring your wives to Nando Milano Trattoria! You will be graced by, not only their authentic and flavorful meals, but by their wonderful and friendly staff as well.
Nando Milano Trattoria
Cold weather is just right around the corner. What perfect way to embrace that than with hot, delicious soup! Read about how to eat shabu-shabu in this post of Supper Club Saturday!
My first experience with shabu-shabu is at Yojie Japanese Fondue. They have multiple locations, but my first visit was in the Artesia location. It was very intimidating, to say the least. It was my first time coming across this type of dining, having just learned how to eat at a Korean BBQ place, this shabu-shabu thing was a feat.
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish where you dip your thinly-sliced meat into the boiling (and seasoned/flavored water). The word shabu-shabu is an onomatopoeia that translates to “swish swish”. The slices of meat and vegetables that come with your meal is cooked piece by piece and then dipped in the sauces they serve you.
Now that I’m a little bit more comfortable going to a shabu-shabu restaurant, I want to share with you guys how to eat shabu-shabu – the way that I learned at Yojie anyway.
They have a variety of meat to choose from, and most of them come in 3 sizes: Geisha (5 oz), Samurai (8 0z), and Sumo (10 oz).
Step One: Select the meat
They have a variety of meat options on the menu. Don’t fret, because rice and a veggie/udon bowl come with any order. I usually just get the more popular Yojie Cut, which is their handpicked angus beef.
Step Two: Select cooking style
They have five options of cooking your food. Shabu-shabu is where you cook your meat and veggies in a pot of boiling water. Don’t worry about the flavors because the server will be glad to assist you. Another one is the Sukiyaki sauce that is served in this really cute shallow pot with a wooden (or maybe bamboo?) lid. They also have Tonkatsu which is their ramen broth. Yakiniku is a flat-top grill style of cooking your meats. My personal favorite is the Spicy Miso broth because I prefer my soups with a little bit of kick to it.
Step Three: Get to swishing
The plate of meat is served in this elevated tray and the server will pretty much set up for you. After they’ve given you your rice, your veggies, seasonings, and dipping sauces, they bring out the meat. Since the meat is thinly sliced, you just grab it with your chopsticks and swish them around your broth for a few minutes.
If you leave the meat in for two long, you might overcook it. Same goes for your vegetables. You can leave them in for a little bit longer than the meat. It is almost customary to use your chopsticks for grabbing the meat, dipping them into the broth, and use them for eating as well.
Step Four: Dip this here, dip that there
You are given two dipping sauce that you can customize to your liking. You have the goma sauce (or sesame seed sauce) for your veggies, and the ponzu sauce (or a citrus-based dark brown sauce) for the meat.
My personal preference is I use the goma for both the meat and the veggies because I love the taste of that sauce so much. You can dip one on the other, but it is highly suggested you don’t dip your food in both sauces at the same time as the flavors would clash.
Step Five: Rice, rice away
You place your dipped meat or veggie on top of your rice so it’ll soak up all the yummy sauces. After that, eat away and enjoy!
Step Six: Repeat steps three to five until full
Step Seven: What about the broth?
With the rest of your broth, you can put them in your bowl together with the udon and the rest of your vegetables, and if you have any more leftover meat and rice. The soup bowl portion of my shabu-shabu experience is always the perfect way to end my meal.
Bonus Step: Get dessert!!
Yojie Japanese Fondue has paired with Raindrop Cake to give you a dessert experience like no other. You’ve probably heard about this unique dessert all over the internet. So of course, I had to give it a try. This cute little set-up is almost similar to Taho, a soy-based Filipino delicacy. But raindrop cake is different in a way that it takes your mouth through all these textures with just one bite of the raindrop cake. The raindrop is made of seaweed, believe it or not, and has no taste by itself. To add flavor, you mix the roasted soy powder and a sweet syrup called kuromitsu. You can either mix them together to get the mixtures of flavor and texture as a whole. But I preferred taking a scoop out of the delicate gelatinous raindrop, mix in some soy powder, and then adding the syrup. It is very ming-boggling to say the least, only because my mind actually thought the raindrop shape of the dessert will pop once I put the spoon into it haha. Over all, the raindrop cake is a must-try unique dessert. It’s is not too sweet and just perfect for the palate.
I hope that this little post of mine helps people who are intimidated to try new things, especially with shabu-shabu, go out there and give it a try. It is seriously the best experience. Not to mention the awesome food and company you’ll experience when you and your friends try this on your next night out. I especially recommend visiting Yojie Japanese Fondue in Cerritos, or visiting their other locations. Their staff is simply the best, being really nice about teaching you the ways of the shabu-shabu. Who knows, the next time you crave Japanese fondue, you’ll be the one sharing your swishing skills with your friends.
If you guys happen to try this type of dining, do let us know what you think here at Eat Play Chicago LA. Happy Weekend!
(Disclaimer: Eat Play Chicago LA did not receive compensation for this post.)
Local restaurant instantly transports you to the island of Cuba through food, drink and sound.
This week I had some drama with my phone where the only solution I had to fix it was to do a factory reset. I thought that if I had to do that, I might as well get a new phone. Well, across the way from the store where I was at, there was 90 Miles Cuban Café. They have Flamenco and Paella night every Thursday night there. I had gotten there in the late afternoon, and by the time I was done, it was dinner time (since when did it take SO long to switch phones?) Needless to say, I followed the sounds of the music, and my nose to the wonderful smell coming from 90 Miles Cuban Café.
Let me just say that a bar that includes cats (well, pictures anyway) is a bar that I am an instant fan of.
Usually I get a mojito, but since it was a work night, I opted for a glass of red sangria. Besides, didn’t someone say that a glass of red wine with dinner was good for your health?
Sure, Flamenco and Paella are more Spanish in origin, and this is a Cuban Café, but it doesn’t mean we have to be exclusive. One of the styles of music that I love to listen to is Flamenco, and I was very excited to see the dancers too. There were some children in the audience, and the dancers invited them up for a lesson in Flamenco as well.
For appetizers, the ceviche and pork medallions were of pretty good size.
I barely had room for the Churrasco!
Needless to say I had taken home leftovers (or as I like to call it, my lunch for tomorrow!)
If you are ever curious about their desserts, one of their items, the Trés Leches Cake is enough to share with two to three people. However, it is so devine that you may want to keep it for yourself!
Overall, I did like the interior and the layout. The food was fresh and pretty tasty. I would definitely recommend this place.