Friday, February 28, 2014

Uncle Mike's Place

Location: 1700 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Uncle Mike's Place on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
Somehow, Uncle Mike's Place has evaded my knowledge of Chicago restaurants for many years.  One of my buddies mentioned a Filipino breakfast and I was sold on giving it a try.  Being half Filipino, I had very high expectations.  And, I will gladly say, this breakfast met every one of those expectations.  As soon as you walk in, you realize you are not in a 5-star restaurant, but you see the Filipino employees and the huge variety of customers eating the same Filipino breakfast.  It had to be good... and it was AMAZING.  You can order one protein (tocino, longanisa, bangus, spam, and steak) or, in my case, two.  The prices are a little on the higher side for breakfast, but it is 100% worth it when you see the size of the meal, the side dishes, the complimentary lugao, and the authenticity of the cuisine.  It reminds me of eating in the Philippines.  This was absolutely one of the most memorable meals I have had in Chicago in a while.  I may be biased because it reminds me of my childhood, but I would easily walk more than 5-miles for this food.  And, I know many people that would do the same.  And, for those reasons, perfection was the only rating that would fit!  A must try restaurant!

What I Ate:

Tocino and Bangus Combo Breakfast

It was a hard decision for me to only choose two of the proteins offered for their Filipino breakfast, but it had to be done.  I went with the Tocino and Bangus combo.  This massive breakfast comes with a whole order of tocino (specially marinated pork shoulder), a deep fried bangus, garlic fried rice topped with two eggs (my choice was sunny side up), a bowl of chocolate-coconut tapioca, and a couple of different vinegar concoctions--the first with tomatoes, patis (fish sauce), and vinegar and the other with vinegar, garlic, and black pepper.  I was  ABSOLUTELY AMAZED when the dish arrived at our table.  It was a huge breakfast and as authentic as it gets.  The bangus was my first bite.  It was fried to perfection, de-boned, and tasted amazing dipping into the vinegar and garlic.  The tocino had that sweet, yet salty flavor to it and had a good fat-to-meat ratio.  It was tender and plentiful.  Pop those two yolks over the garlic fried rice and pour the tomato-vinegar mixture on top and enjoy.  All of the components and flavors are meant to compliment each other... the acidity, the sweetness, the saltiness... WOW.  I took a picture for my mom and she can't wait to visit Uncle Mike's Place.  The combo breakfast was only a couple dollars more ($12), so definitely think about getting two proteins.  You will not be disappointed!


The restaurant won me over with their daily made lugao, which is given complimentary to every customer! Lugao is a Filipino version of congee or a rice porridge made with chicken and chicken broth.  Their version has very finely ground rice and was topped with fried garlic, scallions, and a piece of tofu.  I have seen other places use chicharrones and even different types of egg.  Not only is it complimentary, it is a huge portion.  They give everyone a bowl, which is perfect for the cold weather the city has been dealing with.  The lugao was spot on, reminding me of my mom's!  There was plenty of pulled chicken meat.  The fried garlic added a complex flavor to the soup.  Everyone needs to try this and see why I crave this childhood dish.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Free parking along Grand.  Plenty of it too!
- They are open fairly early so keep this place in mind for breakfast.
- My buddies ordered the steak and the longanisa.  They also loved it, so definitely check those two combos also.  Spam is also available and will be my next choice!

- Don't order anything else on the menu.  The filipino breakfast is the GREATEST!  I promise, try it and you will not be disappointed

How far would I walk for this food?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yuki Hana

Location: 2920 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657
Yuki Hana on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
One of my friends had the idea of trying Yuki Hana's new Korean BBQ cuisine.  Rather than going for their famous happy hour sushi prices, we sat at their newly expanded restaurant and became their first Korean BBQ customer.  Right from the start, we knew they had no clue what was going on.  The BYOB was unavailable once you cross over an imaginary line into their Korean BBQ side.  The beer was cheap beer was not on tap (as claimed), and the expensive beer was cheaper than the cheap beer.  I personally was extremely confused.  And, unfortunately, the waitress didn't understand how the Korean BBQ worked.  No one even knew the sizes of the meat platters and whether or not it can be shared.  Anyway, the food turned out to be better than expected, but still sub par to the other Korean BBQ joints in the city.  It is a good start at something new and I can only see it getting better.  But, for now, considering our experience and not reviewing their established sushi happy hour, I decided a 2.5-mile rating was fair.

What We Ate:


I am a huge fan of appetizers, especially dumplings at Asian restaurants.  My buddy and I decided to get an order of gyoza.  These are the Japanese version of the pot sticker.  Here, the gyoza is a little different.  The dumplings are filled with a pork and minced vegetable meatball and then deep fried.  They are served with a ponzu sauce and come in an order of six dumplings.  Without question, these are the WORST dumplings I have ever eaten.  Oil saturated each dumpling.  It was so bad that we decided to dry them off with a napkin.  And, that didn't even help... and I am not exaggerating.  It was awful.  Do not order!

Kalbi - Korean BBQ Dinner

After all of the confusion, we ended up ordering ONE ORDER of the Kalbi.  This is the typical Korean BBQ meat.  Kalbi is beef short ribs that have been marinated in a sweeter, soy sauce-like sauce.  It comes with about 1 lb. of meat, a few mushrooms and onions, and about six different side dishes.  Those dishes included a few kimchees, some pickled onions, a salad, and some kind of cold egg dish.  The meat itself was good quality.  Not too fatty, and plenty of meat on the bone.  It takes about a minute or two on the grill before it was done.  The chef was a little on the annoying side, trying to cook our meat for us and at one point even started putting the meat on our plates.  I wasn't sure what he was doing.  The kimchees were just OK.  One in particular was extremely fermented and just didn't taste like normal kimchee.  That cold egg topping smelled funny as well.  The meal also came with some white rice, but you definitely need to order a side of rice if you decide to share.  Overall, it was OK Korean BBQ, but I will probably come for sushi happy hour next time.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Make sure to share!  The orders for Korean BBQ are good for two people (minus the fact that you only get one miso soup).

- Don't BYOB... somehow there is confusion with their BYOB rules.  Currently, you can only BYOB on the sushi side of the restaurant.

How far would I walk for this food?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sing's Noodle

Location: 2171 S. China Pl., Chicago, IL 60616
Sing's Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
Sing's Noodles, located in the Chinatown Plaza (across from Lao Sze Chuan), offers some of the city's best noodles.  All of the noodles are hand-pulled to order by the gentleman that used to work at Hing Kee.  As soon as you walk in, you can tell the restaurant was built just for that chef.  A three-walled window room is the center of attention, allowing customers to watch their noodles being made.  Bowls, or should I say cauldrons, are filled with different style broths, those hand-pulled noodles, and various cuts of meat.  Despite being known for their noodles, Sing's also is home to some great Xiao Long Bao, aka the soup dumpling.  For noodles, it is quite expensive.  I am used to having a bowl of noodles for under $7.00.  Unfortunately, that is not the case here... you will look to spend around $9.00 a bowl.  The cost is still cheap, but for the quality, it can be considered expensive.  And, for that reason, I couldn't give it a perfect rating.  I loved the noodles and the dumplings, and I can't wait to be back!

What We Ate:

Xiao Long Bao

It is crazy; just a few months ago, I had eaten maybe one order of soup dumplings in my life.  But, within the last few weeks, I have tried different types of xiao long bao at different restaurants in Chicago.  At Sing's Noodle, we encountered the best xiao long bao to date.  Here, the dumplings are larger, and without exaggeration, 3x the amount of soup.  Our first dumpling accidentally broke when trying to pick it up, but somehow, the residual soup still filled the entire spoon.  It was incredible.  The dumpling is classic; they use pork and minced veggies.  An order comes with six dumplings for about $6.  A little pricey, but much better than some other dim sum restaurants in Chicago.

House Special Hand-Pulled Noodles

With over a dozen different noodle soups on the menu, it is pretty difficult to choose which bowl you want.  I found it a little easier to choose because of their House Special bowl.  This bowl is made with a combination of the meats, including beef stew, beef tripe, and beef chunk.  A few sprigs of watercress add some color, and of course, a bountiful of their hand-pulled noodles swim in the heavily seasoned broth.  The broth is your typical beef broth with a strong salty flavor present.  The meat itself is not the highest quality, but if you remember, the point of these noodle shops is to finish off all your leftovers.  The noodles are some of the best in Chicago with a nice chew to them.  The chef makes the noodles to order, so you know they are fresh.  The bowl is easily enough for two, especially if you order some dumplings.

Ox Tail Hand-Pulled Noodles

The other soup we decided to try was the Ox Tail Hand-Pulled Noodles.  Once again, their hand-pulled noodles were the highlight, but in this bowl, the noodles were surrounded by plenty of boiled oxtail, bok choy, and a lighter broth.  My first impression was less flavorful, less salty, but much more fresh.  The greens definitely help give that impression.  The meat is once again lower quality with plenty of fat and cartilage surrounding the bone... but in my opinion, this is what you should expect in this type of soup.  There was enough meat to enjoy, but that fat and bone is what gives the soup its flavor.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!!  The bowls are huge and I swear, two people can share one order of hand-pulled noodles.
- Parking can be difficult on weekends.  Try parking on the street next to the Walgreens.  There are usually a few spots open there.

- Don't come during high peak hours.  There is limited seating.

How far would I walk for this food?

Monday, February 24, 2014


Location: 445 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654
Topolobampo on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
After a long drought of trying Michelin Star-rated restaurants, my family decided to try Topolobampo for my mom's birthday.  It took over 2-months of planning to get a reservation, so just be aware.  Topolobampo is one of Rick Bayless's most famous restaurants.  The cuisine is the most gourmet Mexican food I have ever tried with unique uses of classic chiles and twists on typical mole sauces.  As soon as you walk in, you get that upscale feel.  Several different waiters and waitresses greet each table, with each person having a unique tasks.  Some are there just to pair the correct salsa or mole with a dish, while others explain the different uses of each ingredient.  The ordering style is a little weird, in the sense that you create-your-own 3-, 5-, or 7-course meal from a huge list of items.  And, honestly, you can order 3 desserts if you want.  Unfortunately, I found the dishes to be hit or miss.  There were some amazing, memorable plates and some terrible, "wish I never ordered" ones.  For having a Michelin star, I was very disappointed in the meal.  High expectations were not fulfilled despite having a few dishes that I still crave.  For that reason, 3-mile rating was all I could give it.

What We Ate:
Tier 1:  This would be my ideal 7-course meal!

1. 2. 

3. 4. 


6. 7. 

1. Scallops in Aguachile

2. Panucho Chicago-style

3. Smoked Shrimp and Octopus, Baja Flavors

4. Arctic Char, Ancho Chile, & Porcini

5. Duck in Chestnut Green Mole

6. Warm Chocolate, Frozen Coconut

7. Cajeta Crepes, Chocolate & Plantain

Rather than explaining every dish to you, I decided to create my ideal 7-course meal and then categorize the rest of the dishes in different tiers.  I figure you can head to their website and read the confusing ingredients and complex chilies Rick Bayless decided to use in each dish.  Anyway, in the my ideal 7-course meal, I think it is important to spread out your choices from each of his categories.  Some dishes are more bold, while others are meant to be delicate.  I think the overall best dish of the night was the Arctic Char, Ancho Chili, and Porcini.  First of all, the dish was much larger than the rest, with a good-sized fish filet being the star.  But, the dish was made memorable by that crispy arctic char skin that contrasted the soft texture of the fish and the liquid porcini soup.  It comes with homemade tortillas so definitely roll those up and dip into the soup.  It was a toss up for me for what I consider more appetizer-like dishes.  Both the scallops and the smoked shrimp and octopus dishes are part of that delicate category, where the seafood is simply prepared to allow the fish to shine.  An interesting, more-earthy dish was the panucho which had a unique puffy tostada topped with a great combination of beans and veggies.  When it comes to the hearty portion of the meal, the only meat dish I craved more of was the duck.  It had a delicious green mole made up of poblanos and plantains.  Finally, two desserts is a must!  All the desserts were to die for and should not be missed.  Honestly, paying for an extra 3-course dessert preparation for sharing should be greatly considered... they are that incredible.  Each dessert has a warm and cold component to it making you crave more and more.

Tier 2:  Above Average Dishes.


2. 3. 

1. Striped Bass in Yellow Mole

2. Lamb in Ancho-Tamarind Sauce

3. Venison, Ancho & Cacao

It was difficult to choose my ideal 7-course meal from all the dishes we tried.  So this category is made up of the honorable mentions.  And, as you will see, the dishes are all of the proteins, meaning these only compete with one or two of the dishes in the ideal meal.  First is the striped bass.  I loved the lightness of the fish, which was enhanced by using a light mole sauce.  The crispy oysters gave the needed texture and more of a deep sea flavor as well.  It was a beautiful dish and a larger size portion.  The other two dishes that made this category were two bold meats.  Both the lamb and venison had stronger game flavors to them, yet were paired with sauces that both accented the earthy flavors but brought each dish to the next level.  A sweeter profile was introduced to the lamb with tamarind and honey, and an extreme richness with bone marrow.  This was the exact opposite for the venison which continued the earthy, deep flavors with the use of a fossilized preparation for squash.  All the meats came with their housemade tortillas, so making little tacos was a huge plus.  It was difficult to choose between the meats; I wish they had a sampler.


Tier 3:  These were just... OK


2. 3. 

1. Shrimp and Cod Cakes, Three Chili Braise

2. Crab "Chileatole"

3. Carne Asada en Mole Negro

The above three dishes were in a category of "just OK".  It is disappointing to even having a tier of dishes this low at a restaurant with such high accolades.  But, we encountered even worse.  Anyway, I think these dishes were such a disappointment because they sounded unreal, and didn't live up to that expectation.  The first was a shrimp and cod cake.  I think everyone, including myself, expected more of a crab cake, but tasted a "space textured," crumbly bread.  Once again, the sauce was needed to give it some moisture and flavor.  I did get a fishy undertone to the bread, but it was more of a disappointment than memorable.  The crab soup was described as creamy and I think we all expected something similar to a crab bisque or the asian crab and corn soup.  Instead, we encountered a heavily asparagus-flavored soup that completely overwhelmed any seafood component whatsoever.  And, finally, the carne asada... I don't know where to start.  The meat was cooked to perfection and tender.  The dish's presentation was beautiful.  The mole was flavorful, but it just felt like a dish you could get at plenty of other great restaurants.  I may be getting a little picky on my review, but, I just considered the last dish to be too SAFE.  Maybe I expected since the term Michelin-rated is constantly being thrown around about this restaurant.

Tier 4:  Stay Away, Don't Say I Didn't Warn You.

1. 2. 

1. Frog Leg Tamal, Casabel Chile

2. Rabbit Loin, Chilled Achiote Sauce

For my final tier of dishes, I decided to group a couple dishes into a category of STAY AWAY.  They may sound interesting and something you can only try at a Michelin star-rated restaurant, but they are not worth it.  The first dish was a frog leg tamale.  This may be the most bland dish I have had in a while.  Yes, they serve it with one of their specialty sauces, but even with that chili, all I could taste was char.  The frog meat is non-existent and when you find a piece, you realize the texture is exactly the same as masa, making it impossible to distinguish the two.  Even the beans served on the side were dry and crusty.  The other awful dish was one of their proteins.  I love rabbit, but their rabbit loin had both a strong gamey flavor with a weird texture.  I believe they slow cook it, but it comes out more gelatinous than meaty.  Honestly, making a taco with the meat doesn't even help.  I wasn't a huge fan of many of the protein dishes, but this one I wish I never ordered.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- How to order:  When you see the menu, you will see the option of 3-, 5-, or 7-courses.  The prices are $55, $90, and $120, respectively.  Once you decide how many courses you want, you can honestly choose any dish on the menu.  Some are smaller, some are larger, and some are meant for dessert.  Any combination is allowed--all desserts, all seafood, and even all of the different meats can be chosen for the same price point.

- Be sure NOT to order the dishes in my 4th tier... unless you want to be disappointed and feel like you wasted money.
- The Limeade sodas are also NOT worth having.  They are too acidic and not thirst-quenching at all.

How far would I walk for this food?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Del Seoul

Location: 2568 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
Del Seoul on UrbanspoonDel Seoul on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
Fusion restaurants have become popular in Chicago, and many places are taking advantage of this craze.  One of the more popular and more established restaurants is Del Seoul... a Korean BBQ restaurant that uses a Mexican technique in their preparation.  If you haven't seen the pictures below, think TACOS!!  Here, all of the different Korean BBQ options are served on warm tortillas and topped with Asian-inspired slaws and sauces.  Personally, I think it is a great way to explore Korean food without being scared away by weird kimchees.  The service is quick and to the point.  Tables can be difficult to find during busy meal times, but ordering to-go is just as good.  I really enjoy coming here and I think the concept is one-of-a-kind.  For that reason, I decided on a 4.5-mile rating.

What We Ate:

Kalbi Taco

The classic Korean BBQ dish is Kalbi, which is a grilled short rib.  At Del Seoul, they taco-ize it.  The kalbi taco is that same sweet marinaded short rib grilled and served on a corn tortilla.  It is topped with a cilantro-onion relish, their house slaw, and toasted sesame seeds.  This is one of three of their most popular tacos and one of the better ones.  The meat was tender, but still had the chew as if we were eating kalbi off the bone.  It was on the sweeter side when compared to the other two tacos.  I think their tacos are great size and they are very generous on the toppings.  The slaw was fresh and could honestly be eaten as a salad.  Highly recommended!

Sambal Fish Taco

Personally, fish tacos are my favorite.  I knew I could sneak a couple bites of the kalbi from my girlfriend, so ordering the fish taco was an easy choice.  It is called sambal fish taco because of that special sambal sauce (chilies, fish sauce, shrimp paste, ginger, garlic, and spices).  The fish filet itself is tempura battered and fried.  It is served on a flour tortillla and topped with red onions, a napa slaw, and a diluted version of that sambal sauce.  Overall, it was much larger than the other tacos and the chunk of fish was huge.  It was fried till crispy and not as oily as I would have expected.  The pickled onions have that vinegar flavor which always pairs nicely with fried foods.  I would have liked a little more heat, but still, a great taco and another one of their popular choices.

Sesame-Chili Shrimp Taco

At home, I am known to make several versions of shrimp tacos, so it was fun to see how Del Seoul made theirs.  The taco uses a corn tortilla as its base before being loaded with panko battered shrimp, a cilantro-onion relish, asesame-chili aioli, and their house slaw.  So why did I like it so much?  The heat was finally felt with this taco.  It was a little on the spicier side, but nothing that overwhelmed your tastebuds.  The fresh slaw again was on point and the balance between crunch, fresh, salty, sweet, and spicy was perfection.  I would order this taco, like the others, time and time again.  Delicious!

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- If the line is long, I suggest having one of your friends or significant other grab a seat while you place the order.  The restaurant is small, so finding seats can sometimes be more difficult than expected.
- I suggest sticking with the tacos.  Some of the other menu items take up to 15 minutes to make, while others are french fries covered in sauces.  Tacos are my favorite menu items!

- Usually there is a line to wait in, but don't be discouraged, it surprisingly moves fast and the food comes out quickly!

How far would I walk for this food?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kuma's Too

Location: 666 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614
Kuma's Too on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
It is no secret that I love toppings on burgers.  And everyone knows I love Kuma's Corner.  So when their second location opened a little closer to my apartment, I figured I would see if it's different.  And, unfortunately, I encountered a sub-par Kuma's Corner.  I do prefer the location, but something just seemed off.  I wasn't sure if it involved smaller burgers, a less attentive staff, or the loss of that Kuma "atmosphere."  Regardless, It wasn't the same.  And, I don't think it was only me that saw the difference.  For some reason, dozens of customers wait over an hour for a seat at the original Kuma's Corner, but at Kuma's Too, there was no line (not even during primetime dinner hours).  I still can't pinpoint the problem, but hopefully it gets fixed.  I will be back to give it another try, but for now, I have decided to give it a 3.5-mile rating.  A full 1-mile rating below their original location.

What I Ate:

Sourvein Burger 
("Burger of the Month")

When the burger of the month combined my love for burgers with one of my all-time favorite foods, I knew I had to make the trip out to Kuma's Too.  Kuma's is known for their outrageous toppings, but this was just over the top.  Known as the Sourvein Burger, it was the typical hamburger topped with blackened chicken, bacon, waffle strips, sharp cheddar cheese, and a raspberry maple glaze.  It was all stacked on top of a pretzel roll.  Honestly, WOW.  Upon first bite, you get that chicken and waffle sweetness.  As the bite goes on... bacon, cheese, and then... BAM, burger.  It is honestly confusing trying to figure out all the components of the burger, so I just enjoyed them as one.  They were good enough to stand alone, so just imagine them together.  I really enjoyed the raspberry glaze, but I do wish they served a little extra on the side.  The burger was cooked to a medium rare/medium consistency.  There were a couple of problems.  First, I ordered chips and received fries.  Second, it was cold, as if the burger sat for a while.  And, finally, are the burgers at Kuma's Too smaller than Kuma's Corner?

(Cross section cut of the Sourvein Burger.  Check out those layers!)
The DOs/DON'Ts:
- If you have the time and the energy, DO go to their original location.  I think it is way better than Kuma's Too.  Something about this second location is off.
- Share burgers!  These are huge and it is great to try a couple different options.

- Don't be surprised with a huge line at either location.  Kuma's Corner is known to have hour waits or longer.  The second location was wide open at 7PM on a weekday, but that doesn't mean it isn't popular.

How far would I walk for this food?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Boarding House

Location: 720 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60654
Boarding House on UrbanspoonThe Boarding House on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
Many of the restaurants in Chicago take it to the next level for Valentine's Day.  They offer special prix fix menus, have limited seatings, and fill up all of their reservations weeks in advance.  It was the same story of The Boarding House; luckily, we had a reservation!  This restaurant has had mixed reviews ever since it opened.  I had heard great comments about their wine and cocktails, but just mediocre reviews on their food.  Everyone kept saying it was hit or miss.  I am unsure if they stepped it up for Valentine's Day, but my girlfriend and I both loved the food and service.  They had a very diverse menu with a dish for everyone.  And their cocktails were definitely some of the best.  The price is expensive, so that knocked the rating just a bit.  But the atmosphere made up for it.  The dark dining rooms were brightened by  huge chandeliers made of wine glasses and old glass water bottles.  And, with an elevator to the top dining room, something just felt more special.  I will say, since we didn't come on a normal night, my review may be a little biased... but for Valentine's Day dinner, it was an easy 4-mile rating in my books.

What We Ate:

Love Potion Cocktail

To start off our Valentine's Day dinner, we ordered a couple of their Love Potion Cocktails.  It was an interesting spin on the bellini.  Unfortunately, I forgot the fruit puree they used (something that reminded me of a strawberry), but it had champagne and a twig of rosemary.  It was surprisingly very sweet and refreshing.  I enjoyed it, but whiskey was definitely going to be next.

Crab Bisque

With only two options for the first course, we decided to order one of each to try.  My girlfriend ordered the crab bisque, which was 100x better than the beet salad (seen below).  Her soup consisted of a creamy crab bisque topped with lump blue crab meat, a ginger tulle, and a scoop of salmon roe.  Being a bisque style soup, we expected a creamy, rich soup... but that is an understatement.  It is as rich as most lobster bisques, but also had a lighter touch with the flaky crab meat.  The ginger tuille is meant to be broken into several pieces, giving the soup a little crunch at first.  I thought the salmon roe was over-the-top and unnecessary.  It didn't add anything except for a salty bite, but it didn't harm anything either.  I loved the bisque and would order it time after time again.

Roasted Beet Salad

My first course was the vegetarian option for an appetizer.  It was a roasted beet salad topped with blood orange slices, fennel, goat cheese, and toasted macadamia nuts.  Personally, I didn't like the salad too much.  The beets had a nice consistency, but lacked flavor whatsoever.  Luckily, the goat cheese and macadamia nuts somewhat salvaged the dish.  In hindsight, I wish I wasn't adventurous and I wish I didn't try this dish.

Oyster and Uni

We were both expecting more palate-cleansing type dishes for the second courses, but instead encountered this surprisingly rich dish.  The oyster and uni is exactly as the name describes and was served mignonette style.  Each mignonette was made with either oyster or uni and was topped with pickled onions and crushed pine nuts.  They reminded me of oyster shooters, but much more deep in complexity and richness.  The uni itself was super creamy, so that pickled onion was much needed.  Honestly, I could eat a dozen of each of these, and just wished it came with more!

Foie Gras Torchon

Seeing foie gras on the menu, it was a no brainer for my second course.  Here, the foie gras torchon was cut into two circular disks (torchon preparation) and served alongside brioche toast points and a quince compote.  Out of all the dishes, it was my favorite of the night.  This was was some of the richest foie gras I have ever eaten, with that silky, fatty texture taking over my palate.  The brioche was a delicate enough bread to let the foie gras shine.  The quince compote reminded me of a homemade apple sauce, which is a much needed accompaniment.  It acts to help cut the fattiness and actually bring out the flavors of the foie gras even more.  Absolutely amazing!


Another no brainer was her choice of lobster for the main course.  They prepared the dish by butter poaching the lobster and serving it along side a mixture of baby carrots, heart of palm, and a fregola-like grain/pasta. The sauce was a carrot ginger buerre blanc.  The first thought that came to mind was the size of the entree.  Wow, they literally gave an entire lobster (de-shelled), and even mixed more lobster into the pasta.  The lobster was cooked perfectly... tender, yet held its shape nicely. I thought the pairing with carrots was on the interesting side because of the stronger flavors of the carrot.  But, it went very well together.  I wasn't sure what the garnish was, but I didn't like it at all... it had a weird vinegar flavor to it and was simply unpleasant.

Lamb Chops

For my main course, I stuck with the one meat option they offered.  And, it was a good one.  Two lamb chops sat on top of grilled asparagus, a tomato jam, and a crispy polenta cake.  The dish was a step up on the typical meat and potato style dishes every is accustomed to.  The lamb chops were grilled to a medium rare with a nice thick pepper crust add tons of flavor.  The juices ended up flavoring the asparagus and also was soaked up by the polenta cake unifying the dish even more.  The tomato jam added some sweetness, but honestly, if it wasn't there... I wouldn't miss it.  In fact, I didn't even realize the jam was there until after the first chop was done.  Tender meat and huge portion... can't do much better than that.

Valentine's Day Dessert Celebration

For dessert, they didn't make us choose between several options.  Instead, they gave us a collection of the Valentine's Day specials.  The dish came with, from left to right, a passion fruit pudding, a strawberry macaron with chocolate filling, a blood orange truffle, and a dark chocolate brownie.  Three out of the four were unreal, while the last I would not eat again.  My favorite was the macaron--a clever twist on a classic dessert. The cookie was strawberry and the filling was chocolate in this case, and honestly, I was completely fooled into thinking I was eating a chocolate-covered strawberry.  My second favorite was the blood orange truffle.  It was creamy and chocolatey, just be careful with that hard rock candy garnish.  The passion fruit pudding had an interesting cocoa puff-like component on the bottom.  Unfortunately, the fourth component, that brownie, was dry and flavorless.  Almost perfection, but not quite there.

"Grow a Pear" and "Curl up & Rye" Cocktails

The Boarding House has some of the greatest names for their cocktails.  Ours were "Grow a Pear" and "Curl up & Rye".  Both were great mixology style cocktails featuring interesting mixers.  The pear cocktail consisted of gin, pear brandy, sage simple syrup, and ginger beer.  It was a very summery drink and very refreshing.  The whiskey cocktail was made with rye whiskey, St. Germain, and Punta e Mes.  The last two ingredients was an elderflower syrup and a type of bitter.  I enjoyed the whiskey cocktail, but would prefer a sazerac next time.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Valet parking is only $12.00 (much better than most of the city).  Definitely worth it since dinner takes around 2.5 - 3 hours if you order multiple course.
- Make reservations!  Sitting upstairs on the 3rd floor or 4th floor loft is amazing.  The dining room is more intimate and quiet, unlike the first floor bar.

- Don't expect a cheap dinner.  The restaurant is pretty expensive, so just keep that in mind.  The drinks add up real quick.

How far would I walk for this food?