3.24.2015

Quicky with Ricky

Earlier this month, Diana and I were invited to stop by the swanky Virgin Hotels Chicago for a Quicky with Ricky [insert a mental string of winky faces and kissy lips]. As sexy/seedy as that may sound, the rendezvous in question was actually not with hotel mogul Sir Richard Branson himself, but rather, his newest Chicago culinary venture, Miss Ricky's


Located in the front entrance of the gorgeous Virgin Hotel, Miss Ricky's is a modern take on the American diner (infused with Virgin's signature British cheekiness, of course!). The trendy, but still casual space is the third public dining option to open in the hotel; out of the three, this is one that is most focused on the idea of comfort. The space is filled with comfortable booths and eclectic colorful chairs in front of an open bar/kitchen; there's even a cute secluded space dubbed "The Casting Room" (complete with movie set decor) available for private parties. The food offerings follow along the same line; their comfort food heavy menu includes specialty French toast, waffle, and egg dishes for breakfast, and sandwiches, pastas, savory pies, and rich desserts for the rest of the day.


We kicked off our tasting with an order of Feta Cheese Sticks: fried feta, cucumber yogurt, and harissa aioli. As I mentioned on Instagram, these aren't your typical diner greasy mozzarella sticks with marinara... the feta ups the game & the sauces introduce a whole new level deliciousness!


The Remedy: Grey Goose vodka, Chareau aloe vera liquor, white cranberry & jasmine mist. We both gravitated toward this strong vodka cocktail - after a particularly long week, it really hit the spot! If you're a vodka lover, The Remedy is a must (it would also make an awesome addition to a boozy weekend brunch!).

 For my entrée, I chose to go with one of the heavily British-influenced offerings, Miss Ricky's Fish Pie: salmon, whitefish, herbs & crunchy potato topping. While I enjoyed the huge chucks of salmon and crunchy potatoes, I liked the leftovers twice as much the day with a dose of Sriracha. This pie is definitely the ultimate in comfort foods - I do recommend that you order with a side of hot sauce for an extra flavorful experience.


How cute are these mini Le Creuset skillets?! I kind of wanted to slip a few into my purse on the way out the door... especially after that cocktail. ;-)

 Diana also chose a British-inspired dish, the Beef Short Rib Pie with marrow bone and root vegetables in a buttery pastry. She loved the perfectly cooked short rib paired with the rich, buttery crust. I snagged a bite of the short rib and I have to admit that I was tiny bit jealous; while the fish pie was good, this was outstanding (and again, the ultimate in comfort food!).


Normally, I wouldn't photograph a soda, but look how cute their glasses are - they're shaped exactly like soda cans!

Chicken and Waffles: Sriracha chicken waffle, buttermilk fried chicken & Sriracha honey sauce. This dish was a clear favorite amongst both the breakfast and dinner crowds. While the idea of chicken and waffles isn't anything new, these waffles actually have pieces of the sriracha chicken running through them.


Death by Chocolate: chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Hands down, this is the coolest-looking dessert on the menu, so of course, Diana and I had to try it.

 Yes, it's a lovely chocolate cake, but let's be real... the star of the show is really the fabulous chocolate knife, right?!


The dark chocolate knife filled with oozy caramel is such a fun addition to the dessert. Yes, it tasted just as fabulous as it looks!

We finished off our tasting with the motherload of Miss Ricky's desserts (or entrée, if you're in the mood for something indulgent and sweet), the Tupelo King doughnut with peanut marshmallow fluff, roasted bananas & honey-glazed bacon. *Whew* This baby was a beauty in both looks and taste!

This doughnut was so spectacular that we joked that we should take photos from every angle... and then we actually did!


On the way out we just had to stop by and pay a visit to the funky wall of neck ties, boxers, and skirts.... it looks like Ricky had quite a few quickies. ;-)

Miss Ricky's is currently open from 6am-12am Sunday-Thursday and until 2am Friday & Saturday (rumor has it the restaurant will be open 23 hours per day during the summer): 203 N. Wabash Ave.

Thanks for the quicky, Ricky... it was definitely good for me!

Miss Ricky's on Urbanspoon
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.

3.23.2015

Chop Shop

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not huge fan of Chicago's SPD craziness; in fact, I usually try to stay away from the masses as much as possible during the height of the celebrations. However, there are a definitely a few things that will make me tempt fate and push my away through the shamrock-clad, green beer guzzling crowds, one of them being a morning filled with delicious eats at one of the hottest new brunch spots in Wicker Park, aka Chop Shop.


Open since 2013, Chop Shop is a multipurpose butcher shop/restaurant/deli/performance space snuggled into a nook on North Ave. directly under the Blue line. The business has some major meat cred behind it, as one of the partners is of the famed Minelli Meat & Deli family. The idea behind Chop Shop is one that appeals to a more modern and younger dining crowd: a pared down and updated steakhouse for those who care about where their meat comes from and who also prefer a more unpretentious, low-key environment. Take away the thick buttery sauces, white linens, and overpriced dishes, and add in a carefully curated beer and cocktail list, an airy, bright space, and a streamlined menu that showcases high quality, affordable meats... voilà, you have Chop Shop!

Chop Shop is split into three distinct dining areas. The front portion of the downstairs area (nearest to the entrance) contains the butcher shop/deli cases, in which you can grab a sandwich and park yourself in front of the spacious windows lining North Ave. The rear portion of the downstairs area contains a bar and few booths (the perfect setting for a casual drink & appetizers). Upstairs is where you'll find the main dining room and patio - this is where you should head if you're there for a more traditional restaurant experience.

While the upstairs area is technically the formal dining room, the space is anything but formal. The dining room has an industrial chic look (metals mixed with worn woods) and is flooded with natural light. While I can definitely see people dressing up and heading there for a nice dinner during the weekend, their recently added brunch hours have a very casual, laid back vibe.


The dining room is also filled whimsical tchotkes embossed with the Chop Shop logo, piles of books, and fun butcher-themed art.

 
 

 
 
Mario and I kicked off our meal with one of their signature cocktails, the Orange Soda: Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, Solerno blood orange, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, Fee Bros orange bitters & orange cream soda.

We both fell hard for this tasty little cocktail. It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood treats procured from the neighborhood ice cream truck - basically, a liquified, boozy form of an orange sherbet Push-Up Pop. This was my dream version of the perfect brunch drink and I really could not get enough of it!



For our first round of appetizers, we chose to start with a fairly traditional brunch dish, the Crab Cake: lump crab, spicy aioli, arugula & red onion. The outside of the crab cake was crunchy and the inside was light and flakey. I particularly enjoyed the addition of the spicy aioli and peppery arugula, as they gave the crab cake a tangy punch.


Our second round of appetizers consisted of a Chop Shop specialty (and one of my favorite dishes of the entire meal!), the Parma Prosciutto Wrapped Burrata with sea salt, EVOO & wine reduction. This was such a fantastic dish - the salty prosciutto contrasted perfectly with the creamy burrata. I've had some amazing burrata during my life, but this version most definitely tops the list. I could easily see myself stopping by Chop Shop for a quick drink (the Orange Soda, naturally) and a plate of this swoon-worthy little burrata!



For the main course, Mario chose to order the Butcher's Burger: butcher’s blend of prime cuts, grilled with aged cheddar, charred red onions, smoked bacon & Chop Shop sauce, served with french fries. Mario was super impressed by both the quality and flavor of this hefty burger. He actually said it was one of the best burgers he'd had in a long time - considering that he's a bona fide burger aficionado and always orders the specialty burger at new restaurants, that's huge compliment.


Extreme meaty goodness closeup!

For my entrée, I chose the Lobster Polenta Cake Benedict with poached egg, crab hollandaise, chive & black pepper. I had previously been told by multiple friends that I absolutely had to try this dish - I'm happy to say that I definitely was not disappointed! The large chunks of lobster were smooth and buttery, and the crab hollandaise added a delicious sweetness to the dish. I also loved the substitution of the polenta cake for the traditional English muffin, as it lightened up the Benedict, but still kept it filling and satisfying. 


Egg porn ooze is the best!

At the end of our meal, we headed downstairs to check out the extensive deli area (and to do a little shopping!). Chop Shop is a full-service butcher that offers a variety of freshly cut meats and house-made sausages, along with cheeses and anti pastas. They even offer their own meat butchering classes!



After indulging in a fantastic meal, you can knock out a portion of your grocery list - talk about convenience! ;-)


You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave. Brunch is served from 11am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Chop Shop on Urbanspoon
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.