This new restaurant deserves a lot of attention.
This new restaurant is a smart-yet-laid-back addition to Roscoe Village. Continue reading
Many of my friends have been to Girl and the Goat – some loved it, raving about the combinations of food and ingredients and how chef Stephanie Izard composes the dishes. Others thought it was overblown and didn’t live up to the hype.
One thing is for certain – Girl and the Goat is one of the busiest restaurants in the Windy City right now, with reservations accepted only months in advance. We went there for my birthday earlier this month – our reservation was made back in July. So I’d heard the debate – how great is Girl and and the Goat? Really? Imaginative and out of this world? Or bombastic and overblown? (Yeah I used the term ‘bombastic’ – look it up on thesaurus.com. Boo-ya! And I totally just used the term ‘Boo-ya’ as well. Welcome back to 2005!)
West Town Tavern is a place I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. We stopped in here around the holidays last year after one of those cocktail reception thingies. I don’t remember much about that reception except it was in a very fashionable work space (glass walls and hardwood floors) with lots of wine, a keg of beer and all these pans of fried chicken. So random. We didn’t stay long, just a requisite visit and some holiday howdy-doodies – and, since we were in the area, we thought we would stop in for a real dinner before heading home.
And the place was packed out! We didn’t have a reservation, so all we could do is stand there at the hostess stand, coveting all the people sitting at their tables with THE best smelling food steaming in front of them as they quaffed hearty drinks and glasses of wine, watching as it spilled down their chins in tiny rivulets as they laughed and reveled in their own exclusive merriment. Because they HAD a reservation. And we did NOT.
Ok, it didn’t happen quite like that – but don’t you hate that feeling? Hoping, just hoping you’ll get in somewhere you really like and then they’re packed and you don’t have a reservation and it’s gonna be an hour and 45 minute wait? Ugh. So that was my first impression of this place.
Recently I gave you, oh faithful reader, my current list of favorite Chicago burgers. Today, I’m offering up my current list of favorite Chicago sushi spots. Much like any other type of food here in the Windy City, there are 100’s of sushi restaurants to choose from. I haven’t been to nearly as many as I like, but I’ve been to a few that were amazing and a few that fell flat (looking right at you, Sushi Para).
I’ve noticed most people that love sushi are passionate about they’re favorite places. So just like anything else, this list isn’t meant to be definitive by any means. I have my favorites – more importantly, I’m always anxious to try new sushi places. I guess I’m searching for that perfect Sushi Shang-ri-la. The closest I’ve come to finding that place is with my (current) first choice:
- Indie Cafe – My first time at this Edgewater eatery, I was struck by the extensive menu and quality. Very, very good with lots of rolls to choose from. I’m a huge fan of Spider and Volcano rolls and they do them extremely well here. Another thing I like to do at sushi restaurants is check out their more creative maki rolls. Indie Cafe doesn’t disappoint. They have a whole section devoted to ‘City Maki’, basing flavor profiles on different rolls named after different cities. Everything from Boston to Bangkok to Santa Fe and even our very own Chi Town (whoop whoop!) are represented. Indie Cafe is actually a sushi and Thai restaurant – be sure to try some of their Thai offerings as well. Everything is slap-your-face AMAZING.
- Sunda – High end. Downtown. Sophisticated. High Quality. And worth every last penny. This place is actually one of the best hot spots in the city right now. I was very much blown away. Service is also impeccable – spot on and consistent. I’ve only been the one time, but from what I’ve heard, everyone notes how great the service is. Menu is progressive – I think they refer to themselves as Asian Fusion, which in my mind equates to a higher level and quality of food, mixing in other cultures as well. Just freakin awesome. In terms of quality and atmosphere, this place is #1 – but my favorite is still prolly Indie Cafe. Sunda is more of a special occasion place for me. I’m a big fan of making sushi as accessible and affordable as possible. Indie is totally affordable and reasonable for a random night. Does that make sense?
- Ponzu – I’ve also been here once and I really, really want to go back. It’s within walking distance here in Lakeview- and is SUCH a great neighborhood spot. I went here with a small group of coworkers one evening. 2 things I tried here for the first time – Negri Hamachi and their Hawaiian Roll. The Negri Hamachi was recommended by a co-worker who said that was always one of her go-to rolls. Loved. It. And their Hawaiian Roll – Oh. My. God. It was yellow tail and avocado wrapped with mango and rolled in toasted coconut. Never had anything like it and I was blown away. Much like a lot of sushi places, they’re byob. We got there early on a Thursday with several bottles of wine and pretty much had the place to ourselves, initially. By the time we left, we were stuffed, wine-tipsy and the place was packed.
- Jai Yen – I used to come here a lot when I was visiting Chicago, before I moved. Decent menu with consistent, high quality rolls and other offerings. This Lakeview/Boystown restaurant also very accommodating to larger groups.
- Ringo – Average. Wasn’t bad sushi, but nothing exciting either. This is another little neighborhood spot in Lincoln Park, and I’m sure it’s somebody’s favorite sushi spot – but not mine. We went there sometime late last summer – it was really hot out and we kept guzzling water. It wasn’t very crowded (always a plus) and the people in there seemed like regulars. The place is byob (another definite plus) . . . but the food was just plain average. Maybe a half-step (or not even) above grocery store sushi. And I remember the acoustics were terrible. The music was way loud and everything seemed to echo.