Monthly Archive: October 2013

Tuesday

29

October 2013

2

COMMENTS

Davanti Enoteca

Written by , Posted in Chicago, Restaurants

Two weeks ago my friend Kit (who blogs over at The Kittchen) and I met up on a Thursday night for dinner at Davanti Enoteca on Taylor Street in Chicago‘s Little Italy. Davanti Enoteca had been on both of our radars for awhile so we decided to meet up and finally check it out. You can venture on over to Kit’s blog today to check out her review as well!

As soon as I walked into Davanti Enoteca I immediately fell in love. I was greeted by the lovely bar that is home to Italian and local beers as well as infused vodka and Limoncello…I didn’t sample any on this visit but definitely next time!

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

As we were led back to our table the unique lighting caught my eye, as well as the small kitchen out front, complete with wood-burning oven. In the back, exposed brick walls with shelves lined with wine surround the dining area.  The rustic decor here at Davanti definitely sets mood for the perfect intimate Italian dinner!

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Now on to the food because that’s really the most important part, right?! Kit and I received a few suggestions from friends before arriving so we had a pretty good idea what we wanted to start with. The plates at Davanti are perfect for sharing so that is exactly what we did! Our first 2 dishes were the Ricotta with Local Honey Comb and the Truffle Egg Toast with Fontina and Asparagus. Both were delicious dishes that I would definitely order again. The ricotta was creamy perfection when mixed with the honey comb and spread on top of a warm slice of Tuscan toast and the truffle toast-well, it’s truffle, cheese, toast so thick you need a steak knife, and perfectly runny egg yolks…need I say more?

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Next up were our pasta dishes and they definitely did not disappoint. Their Cacio e Pepe is officially one of my top Italian dishes off all-time…no joke. It is a simple dish but perfect in every way. We also had a pappardelle pasta with ham and a tomato sauce that was full of flavor, surprisingly light, and just straight up good pasta.

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

There were definitely more dishes that we would have loved to try but we decided to save those for another visit because we needed just a little room for dessert. We opted for the seasonal Pumpkin Cake with Mascarpone Caramel Cream and Green Apples and it was a great way to round out a fantastic meal.

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy, Chicago

Obviously I really, really loved our meal at Davanti Enoteca. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went back the next day for lunch! It was just so good that I needed a little more! If you have yet to venture over to Little Italy I strongly suggest you do and plan for a stop at Davanti Enoteca. They now accept reservations through OpenTable which makes it much easier than their previous no reservation policy. Enjoy!

 

Wednesday

23

October 2013

1

COMMENTS

Lotus of Siam

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

A little over a year ago I watched the Top Chef Masters dine at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas and ever since then this hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant has been on my Yelp bookmark list, just waiting for my next trip to Vegas. Lucky me that trip came this year and I knew that Lotus of Siam was the ONE place that was a must-do for me.

Located in a nondescript strip mall about a $15-$20 cab drive away from the main strip, Lotus of Siam is unassuming from the outside but has been praised as one of the best Thai restaurants in America.

Lotus of Siam

I know, right?! Trust me, looks are deceiving! We gave the doorman at the hotel the address and as the cab pulled up all he said was “Lotus of Siam”…no address needed.

Lotus of Siam is open for lunch and dinner and while we had initially planned a lunch visit, we got distracted and pushed it back to dinner. We didn’t have a reservation and they were booked for the night so we arrived early right before they opened to secure a seat. If you plan in advance I would definitely make a reservation if you want to eat at a more “peak” time, but they do have a bar where you can try a glass from their lengthy wine menu while you wait.

Wine at Lotus of Siam

Wine at Lotus of Siam

I had done my fair amount of research ahead of time (because I’m a nerd like that) so I knew exactly what I planned on ordering. Lotus of Siam is a bit unique because they offer quite a few Northern Thai dishes, which you don’t see on the menus of most Thai restaurants. Our first dish was the very popular Tom Kah Kai soup. Chicken, coconut milk, mushrooms, lemongrass, and lime…this was quite possibly one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. We chose a spice level of medium for all of our dishes and found it to be perfect for our taste-a good amount of heat but nothing that was searing away our taste buds.

Tom Kah Kai

Tom Kah Kai

After the soup came the Garlic Prawns. This is one of their most popular dishes and it’s no wonder why…deep fried prawns with shells that crisp up like potato chips, sautéed in a tasty garlic sauce and cooked to perfection.  Delicious!!

Garlic Prawns

Garlic Prawns

Next up…Braised Short Rib with Panang. The short rib wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but the sauce-a red cream curry with cognac-was fantastic and absolutely made the dish. It definitely took some restraint to stop from licking the bowl!

Braised Short Rib with Panang

Braised Short Rib with Panang

Our last dish before dessert was one of my go-to Thai carry-out choices….good ‘ol Pad Thai. But this was no ordinary Pad Thai-this was the best Pad Thai I’ve ever eaten, and I have eaten A LOT of Pad Thai. The flavors, the spice level, the crispy vegetables, and of course the noodles….I wanted this whole dish to myself!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Last but not least was dessert. We were on the brink of stuffed but I couldn’t leave without a few sweet bites. This was actually my first time trying sticky rice and I really enjoyed it. The warm rice with the beautiful, fresh, sweet mango was a great combo and  add in a cold bite of the coconut ice cream…the perfect ending to a great meal!

Mango, Sticky Rice, Coconut Ice Cream

Mango, Sticky Rice, Coconut Ice Cream

From start to finish, from wine to dessert and everything in between, Lotus of Siam lived up to all of my expectations and then some. If you’re in Vegas I highly recommend venturing off the strip to give Lotus of Siam a try for yourself, I know this has now made it onto my must-do list for all future trips to LV!

Lotus of Siam

Monday

21

October 2013

2

COMMENTS

Viva Las Vegas

Written by , Posted in Travel

Good morning and Happy Monday! A couple of weeks ago Mike went to Las Vegas for a work conference and we decided to turn it into a little weekend getaway for the two of us after the conference was over. I flew out on a Thursday night and met Mike at the MGM where he was staying for work. I’ve been to Vegas once before and this time around I was still just as amazed by just how grandiose everything is. The size of the casinos, the lights, the restaurants, the shopping, the people…it’s all just so over the top and I love it! After a good night’s sleep we had breakfast and I had a relaxing hour at the MGM Grand Spa before we headed over to our hotel for the next 2 days-the Mandarin Oriental. The Mandarin Oriental was amazing-our room was beautiful and everything about the hotel just screamed luxury. I also really loved the fact that the Mandarin doesn’t have a casino so it was very quiet and private-a great retreat from all the craziness out on the strip!

Mandarin Oriental

Our room at the Mandarin Oriental

The pool at the Mandarin Oriental

The pool at the Mandarin Oriental

Sunrise view from our room at the Mandarin Oriental

Sunrise view from our room at the Mandarin Oriental

After getting settled at the hotel we headed out to explore the strip. We spent the day walking around the casinos and shops, stopping here and there for a drink, basically just relaxing and having a good time. We stopped at Todd English P.U.B. in Aria for a quick snack of their addictive Lobster Rolls before our excursion off the strip for dinner at the incredibly popular Lotus of Siam.

The Shops at Crystals

The Shops at Crystals

The glass flower ceiling at The Bellagio

The glass flower ceiling at The Bellagio

Lobster Rolls at Todd English P.U.B.

Lobster Rolls at Todd English P.U.B.

Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam

After dinner we called it an early night so we were ready to go for a busy Saturday. On Saturday we woke up an headed off the strip to The Gun Store.

The Gun Store

The Gun Store

Neither Mike nor I have ever fired a handgun so we decided to give it a try here in Sin City. It was a crazy, scary experience for me and while I’m glad I did it I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. Here’s how it went…we walked up to the window outside and chose our shooting package and targets. Inside our instructor gathered our guns and ammo, we picked up eye and ear protection, and then headed into the range. After some quick instruction I was shooting at my zombie target with a glock 19. It was so loud and the recoil was so strong…not what I was expecting and definitely very startling. Mike and I took turns and after he shot his handgun I shot a bigger, automatic gun.  Again-loud, strong, and scary. Bottom line: guns are scary and I’m just not a huge fan.

The menu at The Gun Store

The menu at The Gun Store

After this early afternoon excitement we headed back to the strip, stopping to get our In-N-Out Burger fix on the way. Cheeseburger Animal style and Animal fries are the only way to go!

In n Out

In N Out

Cheeseburger, animal style with Animal fries

Cheeseburger animal style with animal fries

Back on the strip we hung out at Todd English P.U.B. (definitely our go-to bar of the trip) before it was time for dinner and a show. We were seeing Cirque du Soleil – “O” at the Bellagio so I chose Le Cirque for dinner as it’s just steps away from the theater. We had a great prix fixe pre-theater dinner complete with wine pairings…highly recommended if you’re looking for somewhere that leans towards the fancier side. When we were in Vegas a few years ago we saw Mystere at Treasure Island and we really enjoyed it but we were even more impressed with ‘O’. Odd and eccentric in true Cirque fashion, but the water stage just takes the acrobatics to a whole new level…another highly recommended Vegas activity!

Dinner at Le Cirque

Dinner at Le Cirque

The Strip from our room at the Mandarin Oriental

The Strip from our room at the Mandarin Oriental

On Sunday our flight left a little later in the afternoon so we headed back to our new fav Vegas spot, Todd English, to take in a little NFL action before heading home. A fun weekend feature at Todd English is their Bloody Mary bar where you choose from a long list of fixins to make your dream Bloody Mary. Mine was basically a meal in a glass and coupled with their loaded chips it was the perfect Sunday football indulgence!

Bloody Marys at Todd English P.U.B.

Bloody Marys at Todd English P.U.B.

Loaded chips at Todd English P.U.B.

Loaded chips at Todd English P.U.B.

I had such a fun couple of days in Vegas and am now even more excited for my girls’ trip in January! Even though I seem to get sick every time I visit, I’m thinking that Vegas needs to start becoming an annual thing!

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