Stick with me on this one…it’s not that I don’t absolutely LOVE coffee and all of its caffeinated goodness, but since college I haven’t been able to drink even a single cup without getting a major migraine (I blame it on heredity and my family’s week tolerance for caffeine). Today I was feeling saucy though and couldn’t ignore the beautiful Keurig machine in our office any longer. Fast forward to the fact that I am currently enjoying a vanilla caramel cream coffee and it is delicious. Tempting fate? Probably, but it’s the first sunny day in Chicago (in what seems like forever) and I needed a pick-me-up since I’m stuck in the office all day.
Answer: Microsoft Outlook….because you crashed and I haven’t had access to my email in 24 hours.
I’m am currently staring at an update progress bar that has read “6 minutes remaining” for the past 30 minutes. I get it…6 minutes = 6 hours. Don’t worry, Microsoft, I’m not eager to get at my client emails at all. You take your time.
Sunday night we headed over to Henri (18 S. Michigan Ave.) for a delicious dinner for Nick’s birthday. I hadn’t heard too much about this restaurant before booking the reservations, but I thought to myself, “It’s french food….we’re bound to love it”. My first impression was the gorgeous decor. The chocolate brown walls, the creamy robin’s egg blue chairs, the huge crystal chandeliers…it was beautiful. The dining room is actually very small (think 20 - 25 tables tops) and much like my experiences in France, you sit extremely close to your fellow patrons.
We were both taking a slight hiatus from liquor due to the St. Patty’s Day festivities the day before so I can’t speak much for their specialty cocktails, but they sounded delicious We opted for a Goose Island Sophie (for him) and a glass of Pinot Gris (for me) instead.
To both started off with a first course and it was hard to do much wrong with either of our choices. I had the escargot with brioche toast croutons (garlic+butter=delicious!) and Nick had the market potage (aka “soup of the day”) which was a creamy potato soup with frizzled leeks, country ham, & freshly made potato chips.
- Fig Glazed Duck with a tart of goat cheese, duck confit, figs, & grapes…I don’t think this dish could have been prepared more perfectly. The duck was amazing and it worked well with the tart (how can you go wrong with goat cheese?). Extra credit for the housemade tart crust which was savory and melted in your mouth.
- Steak Au Poivre with smashed potatoes and winter vegetables…it was a massive piece of meat that was also cooked to perfection. The peppercorn crust was my personal favorite. It was simple and very much in line with what we tasted when we were in Paris.
Before settling our check we decided to split the creme brulee (I mean it was Nick’s birthday after all…he deserved some sort of sweet treat!). So glad that I wasn’t greedy enough to order my own order because it was huge. Both of us struggled to finish it. Overall, it was a great experience (albeit slightly stuffy), but with all of the great restaurants this city has to offer I probably won’t be returning…unless someone else is paying. :)
Last night I headed out for a girl’s night out dinner at Maude’s Liquor Bar and all I have to say is “Wow!”. First of all, I’m glad that one of the girls had the foresight to make reservations 2 weeks ago because the place was bumpin’. We walked in right at 7:30pm and were seated right away at a table on the first floor (next time I will opt for a cozy table in their more private (read: darker) upstairs room for a date night), but the downstairs was perfect for 3 chatty girls.
I have been hearing nothing but great things about their cocktails so we dove right in with the Smashes. The other girls ordered the Vodka Smashes (think mojito, but with vodka), but I opted for the Smokey Violet Smash which has a very herbal taste and wasn’t too sweet. Let’s just say you didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to order a second one.
Now onto the good stuff….the food! They offer small plates as well as entrees so we decided to order a number of items to share and it worked out perfectly. Here’s a rundown of our selections….
French Onion Fondue - Carmelized onions with a delicious layer of Gruyere cheese melted on top. Accompanied by a baguette. Pure genius and a table favorite!
Steak Tartare - Phenomenal!!! It was a nice size portion of steak tartare topped with a perfectly cooked egg yolk. Accompanied by buttered (and slightly charred - yum!) toast points and garlic aoli.
Shaved Vegetable Salad - Simple, but it was a nice mix of thinly sliced vegetable (radishes, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) tossed with a light champagne vinaigrette and topped with blue cheese and toasted walnuts. It was a nice break to our carb-heavy menu we had selected.
Escargot - Ok….I know I’m spoiled in that I indulged in amazing escargot on a number of occasions while in Paris, but it just wasn’t a favorite in my book at Maude’s. Don’t get me wrong…it was butter, garlicky goodness for sure (again served with bread for sopping up said buttery yumminess), but I was dissapointed when they arrived and had already been removed from the shells. That’s the fun part about it!!
Pomme Frites - Served with garlic aoli. They lasted about 4 minutes at our table.
Braised Short Rib - This actually was our least favorite of everything we had ordered. It was cooked really well, but the sauce didn’t have much flavor to it and the vegtables that accompanied the dish weren’t outstanding.
We didn’t have any room for dessert, but I would be curious to see how the desserts stand up to the rest of their menu. Guess that just gives me a reason to return, right.
Overall: Maude’s Liquor Bar is a great addition to the West Loop neighborhood that offers outstanding French-inspired food and drink, but just make sure to make a reservation. :)
Pistachio Cake + Raspberry Buttercream Filling = Get in my belly!! :)
*I’m aware that I won’t be gorging myself on this cake until Saturday, but is it bad that I’m already looking forward to eating all of the leftovers? Great teamwork on the flavor selection, Nick! High five (over the interwebs).