Sunday, November 8, 2015


Location: 1633 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614

Our latest meal with two of our best friends was at Balena, a restaurant in the Lincoln Park area.  The atmosphere was very rustic and casual with a huge whiskey bar and menu offerings that included several pizza options.

Our Meal:

Butternut Agrodolche and Chicken Liver Mousse Bruschetta

The two appetizers we chose were perfect for the table.  The butternut squash was very fresh and had a nice sweetness to it, while the liver mousse was as expected -- rich and creamy.  The size was definitely small, especially for the nearly $10 per bruschetta price tag, but it was a nice way to start the meal.

 Margherita Pizza & Mushroom, Fontina, Taleggio Pizza

The pizza choices were a little on the disappointing side with nothing that jumped out as being unique.  We decided to stick with the classic margherita and then the other vegetarian option, the mushroom taleggio cheese pizza.  Both options were tasty with a nice crunch crust and tons of flavor. That taleggio cheese and mushroom was my favorite especially when you add their house chili oil.  It was salty for some people at the table, but for me, it was great.

Bavette, Tomato, Basil Pasta & Taglioni Nero, Crab Pasta

Finally, one great option Balena offered was half plate pastas.  This gives the customer the chance to try even more of their offerings.  Both pastas were cooked perfectly - soft, yet a little bite to it.  The squid ink pasta was as expected -- strong seafood flavors, despite only have a small piece of crab sitting on top.  Wish there was more crab, but what can you expect for $14 for a half portion.

My Rating:

Overall, I think Balena is a good, solid option for any typical weekend night.  I don't see it as a "special occasion" night mainly because their food options, though tasty, are classic and honestly, nothing unique.  I still would recommend people to give it a try.

Monday, August 24, 2015


After almost a year hiatus from my blog, I have decided to restart in a little different format.  I will continue to offer multiple pictures from my meal with quick blurbs of what we loved to eat, but posts will be a shorter due to time constraints with residency.  I will still base my rating on "How far I would walk for this food".  Hope everyone still enjoys!

Location: 17 E. Monroe St (Inside Palmar House Hotel)

Our Meal:

Charcuterie and Cheese Platter

It is sad when the charcuterie and cheese plate was the best item of the night.  This dish came with two different meats (a salami and a prosciutto) and three types of cheeses.  One was a blue cheese, but unfortunately our waiter did not feel the need to explain the rest of the dish.  It had a wonderful cherry preserve spread as well as a whole grain mustard for tart.  The dish was huge and great for sharing.  Definitely worth the $22 price tag.

Roasted Flat Iron Steak and Sea Scallop Entrees

For our two entrees, we decided to get one meat dish and one seafood.  Their menu was limited and the reasonably (still high) priced entrees were the flat iron steak and the sea scallops.  Of the two, I would only ever eat the scallops again.  They were plump and perfectly cooked and a wonderful lentil side.  The steak, however, was tough and very bland.  Yes you could appreciate the beef flavor, but they only saving grace was the few drops of rich sauce.  The vegetables were awful unless you enjoy semi-raw tasting green beans.

Truffled Cream Corn side dish  and Housemade Sorbet for dessert

Finally, just a quick word about our accompaniments.  By surprise, my fiancĂ©e last minute ordered the truffled cream corn.  And I am glad she did.  The corn tasted fresh off the cob and it was topped with a dollop of truffled butter.  That butter was potent but had the perfect truffle flavor--did not overwhelm the palate.  As for dessert, a combination of blood orange, mixed berry, and cantaloupe sorbet was ordered.  Not too sweet, but just enough to quench a sweet tooth.  The blood orange was the star of this dessert with the cantaloupe sorbet failing big time.

My Rating:

After much consideration, I gave an average 3.5 mile rating to Lockwood.  We were lucky to have had a gilt city deal to help curb the cost, so my opinion may be biased.  We had a wonderful Pinot Grigio and an excellent appetizer.  I would recommend coming here for the cheese and charcuterie and a few glasses of wine.  However, I would refrain from ordering entrees unless high priced bland meals are what you enjoy.