My first post of 2013! Better late than never right?! Last night I attended Choose Chicago’s First Bites Bash at Union Station, the kick-off event for Chicago’s 2013 Restaurant Week, benefiting the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. In short, it was THE best food-centered event I’ve attended here in Chicago…and you definitely didn’t need to be a “foodie” to enjoy it!
First off, Union Station’s Great Hall is an absolutely gorgeous space for an event and last night it was glowing purple and looking stunning!
My friend and I arrived when the doors first opened and there was a large crowd waiting to get in and check coats, but nothing unbearable. In fact, even when we were leaving around 8p and more people had arrived, there was still space to move around and you didn’t feel overwhelmed. I attended the Chicago’s Table event back in October and that event was insanely overcrowded and they ran out of food and drink before the event even ended. I think the large space of Union Station and the 50+ restaurants (compared to Chicago’s Tables 13) helped spread out the crowds, although they probably could’ve used more bathrooms and few more garbage cans!
So…onto the food! We had a TON of great bites…so many that we couldn’t get to all the restaurants because we were so stuffed! There were a few misses, but mostly wins! Everyone was incredibly friendly and so excited for us to be trying their dishes. My personal winner for the night was Siena Tavern’s Truffle Gnocchi.
Siena Tavern is Fabio Viviani’s new Italian restaurant opening at 51 W. Kinzie in February. Yes, Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame. Can. Not. Wait. This creamy, truffle-y, bacon-y bite was enough to convince me that I need to get there ASAP! Along with Siena Tavern, honorable mentions also go out to Chicago q’s Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders served by the lovely Lee Ann Whippen herself, Bakersfield’s delicious Oxtail Bites, Flo and Santos’ Potato and Cheese Pierogi with apple bacon slaw (who doesn’t love Pierogis?!), Roy’s Maine Lobster Dim Sum (always my favorite app when I visit Roy’s!), Nellcôte’s Chestnut Agnolotti, Signature Room at the 95th’s Braised Short Rib, Untitled’s Grit Cakes with Tomato Jam and the tasty Gin cocktail they were serving, and IPO’s 48 Hour Beef Short Ribs.
Libations were also flowing freely at the First Bites Bash-Peroni and Blue moon provided the beer but there were also tons of other drink stations to be found amongst the food. Wine, Effen vodka, Maker’s Mark, Absolut, and Patron were just a few of the brands served in various mixtures, keeping everyone happy!
And if all that wasn’t enough…Enter: The Sweet Relief Lounge. One of the wings off the Great Hall was transformed into a mini-heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. Chocolate Marquis from ZED451, Dark Chocolate Caramel-Filled Cupcakes from The Berghoff Restaurant, Semi-Freddo on a Stick from Terzo Piano, Chocolate Whoopie Pies from Table Fifty-Two, Chocolate Mousse from Mon Ami Gabi, the crazy spread of treats from Magnolia Bakery, and my favorite dessert of the night-the Butterscotch Custard Cream from Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. I wanted to lick my cup clean, it was sooooo good!!
They also had a photo booth back in the Sweet Relief Lounge with props for a fun photo-op. At this point we were ready for someone to roll us out of there-just so much delicious food! This was such an amazing event and if people weren’t excited for Chicago’s Restaurant Week, I’m sure they are after last night! I left a stuffed, tipsy, happy girl!