*Tap, tap, tap* Is this thing on? Ahem. I'm finally poking my head out after an almost two-month blogging hiatus. I really didn't plan to vanish and while I don't want spend much time blogging about not blogging, I didn't want to completely pretend like it hasn't been forever since you last heard a peep out of me.
Basically, I was feeling a combination of overwhelmed, burned out, and uninspired... I was in a major writing slump, and despite what I recommend to my students, I simply didn't feel like working through it. That is, until I crossed the threshold of the fabulous GreenRiver. Yes, it's true - one amazing meal at GreenRiver was all it took to break my (self-imposed and slightly petulant) silence. This lovely spot with sweeping views of the city, chic vibe, and seriously drool-worthy food is, in a nutshell, a hella fantastic spot. Everything from the decor to the atmosphere to the drink menu to the food is just ridiculously on point. No wonder I finally got my inspiration back, right?!
Open since last September, this eighteenth floor gem in Streeterville pays homage to Chicago's Irish history through a vast drink menu composed of 32 cocktails inspired by the city's most famous (and infamous!) Irish-Americans. Of course, these cocktails aren't just your run-of-the-mill everyday drinks; they're carefully cultivated sips designed by Jack McGarry of The Dead Rabbit and Julia Momose of The Aviary. The drink menu alone is a work of art; separated into sections by the raw materials in the base spirit (e.g. "corn" for bourbon), each cocktail includes a biography for whom the cocktail is named. Not only are the cocktails unique (I guarantee you'll encounter something you've never tried before!), but also, the menu is chock full of fascinating tidbits, making it perfect for those of us who like a little dinnertime reading material.
Along with the spectacular cocktail offerings (and over 200 available whiskeys), GreenRiver also offers an equally impressive spread of interesting, well-prepared dishes (many of which were designed to complement individual cocktails). As much as I loved the cocktails, I have to say it's the elevated Midwestern-inspired fare that ultimately won me over. GreenRiver is truly the quintessential restaurant-meets-cocktail-bar in the best way possible; the food and cocktails are equally pleasurable, and whether you're popping by for a quick lunch or a full dinner with drinks, there's a little something for everyone.
Herbed Boursin Cheese topped with smoked paprika and served with black pepper crackers. This simple, but super flavorful snack was the perfect way to kick off our lunch; while you may be tempted to skip the cheese offerings for more exciting dishes, it's certainly worth checking out the cheese of the day (especially when paired with a cocktail!).
Apache: Aviation Western Style Gin, chocolate, pear, lemon, ginger, and black cardamom. Out of all of the cocktails I've sampled thus far (6 cocktails over 3 visits), this complex drink has remained my favorite of the lot. The Apache leads with the rich, smooth gin, then descends through the pear, chocolate, and lemon, and then finally ends with a touch of spiciness from the ginger and cardamon.
Cauliflower Soup with black cardamom, pickled grapes, and quinoa. While I typically wouldn't consider myself a fan of cauliflower (it's so bland and blah), this lovely soup with its sweet and tart elements was so delicious that it actually led me to temporarily declare myself to be pro-cauliflower.
I love a good tableside soup presentation!
Malted Cheddar-Dusted Frites. As I mentioned on Instagram, I officially declared myself in a relationship with these tangy, salty, cheesy fries... yes, they are really that good! I could not get enough of these perfectly cooked vinegary fries with the light coating of cheddar dust (my dining partners should consider themselves lucky I like them enough to share!). Again, you may be tempted to skip the fries for something more exciting, but trust me when I say that a side of these is an absolute must-order!
Lake Whiskey: Rittenhouse 100 Proof Kentucky Rye Whisky, port wine, cranberry, Zwack Unicum Plum, cinnamon, and GreenRiver Jamaican rum blend (in honor of Old Jim Gore, who famously rolled barrels of whiskey into the river to protect them during the Great Fire). I have to say that I was a bit hesitant about this drink, as I've only started to venture into whiskeys (and sometimes find whiskey cocktails to be a bit overwhelming), but I was pleasantly surprised by both its subtlety and depth.
Hamachi Crudo with hearts of palm, blood orange, black truffle sprinkles, and roasted macadamia nuts. I love a good hamachi crudo (in fact, I order it practically every time I find it on a menu) and this delicate little beauty is absolutely one of my favorite versions I've had in years. Again, my dining companions were lucky to get a single bite of this dish; needless to say, this perfectly composed dish is most definitely another must-order!
Whitefish Tartine with egg, radish, and celery. The star ingredient of this dish is definitely the super rich, but still delicate whitefish spread. While I'll admit to picking off the celery (it always tastes like pungent soap to me), I greatly enjoyed the combination of the smooth tartine with the crunchy, peppery radishes.
Winter Citrus with Chiboust, cranberry, and Agrumato ice cream. This is one of those desserts in which you'll want to get a bit of every ingredient with each bite, as it's so fantastically layered. The dessert menu does rotate fairly often, so I believe this is already off the menu; hopefully, they'll bring back this tart and tangy dish next winter.
Pears and Chestnuts with smoked vanilla and buttermilk ice cream. Of the three desserts we sampled, this one was my absolute favorite. Not only do I love pears, but also, I am slightly obsessed with chestnuts in desserts (why don't more restaurants here use chestnuts?!). This sweet, smoky, earthy dish met all of my expectations for the perfect chestnut dessert... and then some! Again, this is already out of the dessert rotation; I'm crossing my fingers that this dessert finds it way back on the menu because I can't imagine I will ever find a better done chestnut dessert in Chicago!
Chocolate Praline with feuilletine and passion fruit. This is one of those desserts that will catch you by surprise, as you'll first only taste the deep dark chocolate and crunchy bits from the feuilletine; then suddenly, the slight bitterness from the passion fruit will take over and give you an entirely new sensation. Depending on the chocolate to passion fruit ratio in each bite, I felt like I moved between two entirely different (but equally delicious) desserts.
Needless to say, I loved my meal at GreenRiver - in fact, I loved it so much that I went back twice (for both lunch and dinner) within the following month! Thanks to the innovative cocktails and delicious bites, GreenRiver is an absolute must-visit for city-dwellers and visitors alike.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at GreenRiver: 259 E Erie St (18th floor), Chicago, IL.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.