Foodie Archive



February 2015



Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Lunch at Nightwood

Written by , Posted in Chicago, Restaurants

I have a love-hate relationship with Chicago Restaurant Week. I love it because it’s an excuse to visit new restaurants (although, let’s be honest, I don’t really need an excuse) and you get to try several things at a set cost from their prix fixe Restaurant Week menus. I hate it because you have to plan way in advance, especially if you want a reservation for a Friday or Saturday night, and sometimes the prix fixe menu they offer just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve had some great Restaurant Week experiences in years past (Roy’s, Table Fifty-Two, Ruth’s Chris) but also a couple flops that left me feeling sour about the whole thing. After taking the last couple years off, I decided it was time to hop back in this year with a visit to Nightwood.

Nightwood Chicago

Nightwood Chicago

Nightwood Chicago

I’ve had Nightwood on my to-do list for quite some time now, I just never made it a priority to get down to Pilsen and check it out. As soon as I saw their lunch prix fixe menu for Restaurant Week I knew my Chicago Restaurant Week strike was about to be over.

Many restaurants have items on their Restaurant Week menus that aren’t on their regular menus, so it’s hard to know if you’re actually getting a deal and you don’t get to try the great dishes that everyone talks about. Nightwood, however, is offering their big fat Nightwood Cheeseburger, usually found for $16 on their regular menus, as part of their $22 3-course lunch menu during restaurant week. Not only is the cheeseburger one of their most popular dishes, for 3 courses it’s a total steal! Those two juicy patties topped with 8-year cheddar, a crispy onion ring, crunchy pickles, mustard, and special sauce, served with a side of fries, makes it a no-brainer. I added a glass of their Black Currant Fizz soda, the bright Beet Salad with winter citrus, and the tart Honey Goat Cheese Ice Cream to round out a DELICIOUS weekday lunch.

Nightwood Chicago, Restaurant Week 2015 menu

Nightwood Chicago, Restaurant Week 2015, Beet Salad

Nightwood Chicago, Restaurant Week 2015, Burger

Lion + Maven | Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Lunch at Nightwood

Nightwood Chicago, Restaurant Week 2015, Burger

Nightwood Chicago, Restaurant Week 2015, Ice Cream

Nightwood is normally only open for dinner and for weekend brunch, but has added weekday lunch hours just for Restaurant Week. Reservations for dinner may be full for the rest of Chicago Restaurant Week, but if you can manage to swing by during the day you’ll be very happy you did.

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November 2014



Vegas, Baby

Written by , Posted in Travel

Ah, Vegas! For the past few years Mike has had a yearly conference at the MGM Grand and for the last couple of years I have joined him at the end of the week for quick getaway. Three days is the perfect amount of time in Las Vegas – just enough time for a show, a couple great dinners, a few spins at the roulette table, and a bit of relaxation. This year our trip happened to fall on Halloween so we got an extra special dose of freak as well.

I flew in on Thursday morning and as soon as I met up with Mike our first order of business was a stop at In-N-Out for a Double Double, Animal Style. That night we decided to explore a part of Vegas we had yet to visit – Fremont Street. The Fremont Street Experience was an EXPERIENCE, let me tell ya, so I’m saving all of that awesomeness for a post all to itself. The next morning we headed over to our digs for the next two nights at the Wynn. Last year we checked the Mandarin Oriental off our list, so this year we had to see what all the fuss was about down at at the other end of the Strip.  Las Vegas, In-N-Out, Double Double Animal Style

Las Vegas, Wynn

The Wynn was as gorgeous as expected and we would definitely stay there again. After Mike and I checked out The Buffet I headed down to the pool to squeeze in a few drops of sunshine because I knew it would probably be the last time I’d see a pool and the sun for at least 6 months. It was the perfect day in Vegas – sunny and hot enough where a dip in the pool was refreshing, but not required every five minutes because of the blazing heat. Vegas in October is the way to go.

Las Vegas, Wynn, Pool

That night was Halloween and Mike and I wanted to keep it on the low-key side so we decided to skip the clubs and go to a show. We’ve seen several Cirque shows so we decided to switch it up and check out Absinthe at Caesars Palace. This show was FANTASTIC! As long as you can handle inappropriate, crude, racist, sexist, and politically incorrect humor, you HAVE to see this show. It was hilarious and the acts were all incredible. The venue is a tent in front of Caesars so it’s a very small, intimate space that completes the package. We had VIP seats with a small table for the two of us, definitely a plus as we had much more space than everyone else and somewhere to put our splits of champagne that were included in the ticket price. The venue is so small, though, that there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.

Las Vegas, Absinthe

Las Vegas, Absinthe

After the show we stayed out to catch a glimpse of all the Halloween crazies and grabbed a couple seats at a poker table in The Cromwell. The Cromwell is located in the old Wild Bill’s location, which makes me a little salty because I loved Wild Bill’s, but I ended up really liking The Cromwell so I’m willing to forget and forgive. We had prime seats right near the entrance to The Cromwell’s nightclub, Drai’s, so it was Halloween people watching at it’s finest all night long. If you’ve never been to Vegas on Halloween, it’s definitely an experience worth planning for.

A late night out led to a late start the next day. Hangovers needed to be nursed, so we walked over to The Palazzo for pizza at Grimaldi’s followed by a long walk down the Strip. I’m always in awe of the Las Vegas Strip. No matter how many times I visit, the lights, the buildings and the enormity of this desert oasis will always create a jolt of electricity that runs through me. I don’t even like to gamble but I still love it there because just when you think they can’t make it any bigger and better, they do. Case in point – The LINQ.

The LINQ is the new open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district created by Caesars Entertainment. It’s located right across the street from Caesars and at the far end it boasts the World’s Tallest Observation Wheel (aka ferris wheel). But this is no normal ferris wheel. The High Roller is 550 feet tall, each “cabin” holds up to 40 people, and you can rent them out complete with your own personal bartender. Hey, it’s Vegas baby!

Las Vegas, Grimaldi's Pizza

Las Vegas, High Roller Ferris Wheel

We didn’t get a chance to take a spin on the High Roller, but it seems like it would be a pretty cool experience. Instead, we stopped for a mid-afternoon sugar rush at Sprinkles. We have a Sprinkles in Chicago, so I’ve had my fair share of their cupcakes, but what Sprinkles Chicago doesn’t yet offer is ice cream and cookies. I indulged in a Red Velvet waffle cone with Red Velvet ice cream and Mike had an ice cream cookie sandwich made with Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip cookies and Vanilla Bean ice cream. Um yea, pretty ridiculous.

Las Vegas, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Cookies

Las Vegas, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Ice Cream

Las Vegas, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Red Velvet Ice Cream Cone

Las Vegas, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

We continued with our eating spree into the evening and met up with my friend Laura and her fiancé for dinner at Scarpetta. Scarpetta is an Italian restaurant in the Cosmopolitan and we all absolutely loved it. The modern, sophisticated decor with views overlooking the Bellagio fountains might have been enough to sway us, but the delicious homemade pastas and seasonally-inspired dishes sealed the deal. With all the amazing restaurants in Vegas it can be hard to narrow down your choices, but I can definitely give Scarpetta two thumbs up!

Las Vegas, Scarpetta, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Scarpetta, Las Vegas

After dinner and several drinks around the Cosmopolitan, Mike and I stopped by the Bellagio fountains and then headed off to catch the Greensky Bluegrass concert at Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley and concert venue in the LINQ district. Cool venue and great band, but we arrived over an hour into the concert and the crowd was, hmmm, how do I say this, very deep into their dance with Mary Jane. We stayed for awhile and then called it a night, a fitting ending for a crazy Vegas Halloween weekend.

Las Vegas, Bellagio Fountains

Las Vegas, Greensky Bluegrass

We woke up early the next morning for our flight back to Chicago, the Strip in a rare state of Sunday morning peacefulness. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip and would love to keep the happy Vegas feelings going – what are your favorite Vegas experiences? Let me know in the comments below!

Las Vegas, Wynn, Room View



October 2014



Eating & Drinking in Prague

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

Because one post on eating in Prague just wasn’t enough! Thanks to Jan and Zuzi from Taste of Prague, Mike and I were armed with an entire list of great places to eat and drink during our short stay Prague. If you’re visiting Prague and are looking for recommendations, please shoot me an e-mail as I’d be more than happy to send some your way! Here are a few of the spots we stopped at and really loved…

On our first night in Prague we visited the Vinograf location near the Charles Bridge after our Prague on Segway tour. Vinograf is a wine bar and they have two locations in Prague, you may remember the larger location from my previous post about our tour with Taste of Prague. This location in Malá Strana is the smaller and more intimate of the two. We were a bit intimidated at first because it was a very small space filled with locals and menus written entirely in Czech, but after our first glass of wine we were hooked. We shared a fantastic charcuterie plate and took a great inexpensive bottle of wine home with us and it’s currently chilling in our refrigerator awaiting special occasion.

To give you an idea of just how small this Vinograf location is – on our second night we stopped back in after dinner and after placing our order the couple at the table less than a foot away from us asked if we were from the U.S. – accents, obviously. Not only were they also from Chicago, they lived and worked just a few blocks from our current home. Once we started chatting, then man at the table next to us jumped into the conversation. He was originally from England but currently residing in L.A. At that point a couple from Prague at the last occupied table joined in as well because in such a close setting it was pretty much impossible not to. We stayed for over an hour trying different wines and having one big conversation with the entire restaurant. So much fun, and such a memorable experience, we definitely have a soft spot for Vinograf!

Vinograf, Prague

Vinograf, Cheese, Charcuterie

On our second day in Prague we spent most of the day wandering the streets of the city. After starting our morning at the most beautiful coffee shop, La Boheme  Café, Mike headed back to our apartment and I headed to Antonínovo Pekařství for some delicious pastries. After all that flaky, buttery goodness it was time for a walk, so I strolled through the Jiřího z Poděbrad farmers’ market and then stopped to check out Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi. Gastronomica is a fantastic little shop and bistro filled with everything you’d need for a picture-perfect picnic. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy their great outdoor seating, or buy some goodies to-go and head back to the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad to enjoy the beautiful day in Prague!

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

La Boheme Cafe, Prague

Antonínovo pekařství

Prague Farmers Market

Prague, Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi

Gastronomica La Bottega di Aromi Eventually Mike and I met back up and grabbed a quick lunch in the Old Town at Las Adelitas. We needed a short break from the standard German and Czech fare and their Al Pastor tacos hit the spot! We may or may not have also grabbed a Trdelník, a pastry topped with sugar and walnuts that you’ll see spinning all around the city!

Las Adelitas, Prague, Al Pastor Tacos


Later that night, after a quick recharge at the apartment, we headed back out for dinner and drinks. For drinks we stopped at Hemingway Bar, an absolute must-visit in Prague, in my opinion. It’s a dark, sexy bar with a speakeasy vibe and carefully crafted cocktails that were outstanding. They focus on Hemingway’s favorites, rum, absinthe, and champagne, but they do a fantastic job with everything else as well. I started with their Becher Butter Sour and loved it so much that I didn’t even want to bother trying anything else! This signature drink is made with the Czech liqueur Becherovka that is infused with ghee and mixed with fresh lemon juice, sugar sirup, and egg white and topped with an orange chip. I am determined to figure out how to recreate this here at home! We stopped in shortly after they opened at 5pm on a Wednesday night, and we were the only patrons in the bar when we first arrived, but I’ve been told that later in the night it’s a very popular spot and reservations are recommended.

Hemingway Bar, Prague

We would have loved to stay at Hemingway for another cocktail (or 3) but our 7pm dinner reservation at La Finestra in Cucina was calling. La Finestra is a beautiful Italian restaurant in the Old Town near the Charles Bridge. Along with their delicious pastas they also specialize in meat – something I can definitely get behind. Mike and I shared a great bottle of Italian wine, a bright seasonal salad, two tasty pastas (the mushroom ravioli with carbonara foam and the rigatoni amatriciana with sweet onion purée and crispy guanciale), and one fantastic steak. If you’re looking for a special dinner in Prague, La Finestra will definitely fit the bill.

La Finestra, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

La Finestra in Cucina, Prague

The next day we did more wandering, starting our day with coffee at EMA Espresso Bar followed by a walk up to Letná Park to enjoy a few beers and great views at one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Coolest Beer Gardens Around the WorldLetná Beer Garden. We could have spent weeks exploring every delicious bite Prague has to offer, but I think we did a pretty good job with the little time that we had. Hopefully we’ll make it back to Prague someday and pick up right where we left off!

Letna Beer Garden, Prague

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