April 2016 | chicago foodie girl


Rojo Gusano

Happy spring! Yes, I realize spring technically started almost a month ago; however, it was still very much winter in these parts up until recently. Finally, the trees have sprouted tiny buds, the dreaded s-word (yes, that would be snow) hasn't been uttered in almost two weeks, and there's a telltale whiff of the new season (wet pavement, grass, and dirt) in the air. While fall is my favorite season, I have to say that I really cannot get enough of these gorgeous early spring days! Along with basking in the lovely weather and celebrating the birthday boy (yay, Mario!), I also spent the weekend exploring some new-to-us restaurants with Diana, including much lauded Rojo Gusano.



Appellation Wine Bar & Restaurant

When I heard the news last year that Pastoral was opening not only a cheese shop but also an adjacent wine bar/restaurant in my 'hood, I immediately began planning for the day in which I could roll out of bed and spend a leisurely morning munching my way through all sorts of cheesy deliciousness. Already being a bona fide fan of the renowned shop and a connoisseur of all things cheese (from mild, creamy goat cheeses to pungent blues, I'm always down for cheese!), I had high expectations for the newest location. While the shop and restaurant opened to great fanfare at the end of the year, it wasn't until a few months ago in which they finally kicked off their brunch service. Of course, the moment the words "new brunch menu" floated my way via email, I knew it was finally time to live out my cheese-filled brunchy daydreams at Appellation.

Headed by Jesse Williams (formerly of Birchwood Kitchen), the Andersonville spot is Pastoral's fifth (and in my opinion, best!) location. Not only is the shop a treasure trove for lovers of cheese, wine, and charcuterie (as is every incarnation of Pastoral), but also the cozy adjacent wine bar/restaurant contains sparkling wine on tap AND mustard on tap from Maille. Yes, you read that correctly... there's basically a nonstop flow of sparkling wine and draft mustard. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love my fancy mustards (Diana and I even took a trip to the National Mustard Museum a few summers ago!) almost as much as I love my cheese (and bubbly!), so you can bet I was a very happy girl upon learning of these fun offerings.

Fellow cheese and brunch lover Ashley and I stopped by on a bustling Saturday morning, and after ogling the rows and rows of available wines and cheeses, we finally tore ourselves away from the bar and settled at a sunny table in the front part of the dining room facing Clark St. (a prime spot for people-watching!) for a two-hour tour through some of the highlights of the newly minted brunch menu.

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