Cooper’s Hawk

April 9, 2010

510 Village Center Dr., Burr Ridge, IL 60527

Lunch, dinner, & wine tasting ($40/ person)

http://www.coopershawkwiner.com

Let me begin by saying the pretzel bread they bring out before dinner is fantastic! I would come just for a glass of wine and the pretzel bread! Anyways on with the show… We will be the first to tell you some wines are decent and were not so great (keep in mind we have gotten to try some really good wines recently), but to the average diner they make for a great evening and definitely make dinner that much more enjoyable. On to the food! We ordered the Tuna Sliders as our starter which was absolutely wonderful! The tuna wad cooked perfectly, just kissed the pan, and had an amazing spice rub that was salty with just the right amount of spice! Next, we ordered our entrees. The Sea Scallops, which were also cooked to perfection, were served with white rice and asparagus, but it was the wine butter sauce that made it irresistible. Similarly, we also tried the Cashew Crusted Walleye  that was served with a mustard buerre blanc.  This may sound unusual, but it was fantastic. We were sopping it up with leftover pretzel bread. With the fish we swapped the Mary’s whipped potatoes for Betty’s hash brown cheese casserole, which was delicious! Cheap wine aside, Cooper’s Hawk is a great place if you’re looking for anything from burgers to seared tuna. Another perk is that while you wait for a table (we had an hour long wait) they have great wine tastings. They do a select 8 wines for $7, but if you want to try any of their wines be sure to ask, they offer complimentary samples.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

April 6, 2010

131 West Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL 60540

Lunch & Dinner  ($15/ person)

http://www.loumalnatis.com

Chances are that if you live in the Chicagoland area you have already been to Lou Malnati’s, or at least heard of it. We went there last Thursday on a beautiful, sunny day because we were looking for somewhere to eat where we could sit outside. The plus is that they do have outdoor seating (and we were lucky enough to walk up as someone was leaving), but the negative is that the outdoor seating is covered by a large canopy so you have to sit in just the right place to get some sun. We started off by Chris ordering a beer and I ordered a glass of wine. They weren’t serving any mixed drinks (a mojito sounded good while basking in the sun). We then ordered the Combination Platter, which was an assortment of toasted mozzarella sticks, cheddar cubes, breaded zucchini and mushrooms. It was very good, but too much food for only two people. By the time our medium deep dish pizza came we were no longer hungry (that didn’t stop us from each eating a slice though). The pizza was of course delicious.  Nikki usually doesn’t like deep dish pizza, but Lou Malnati’s is perfect. It is not too “deep”. We took the rest of the pizza and it made for a great lunch the next day!  If you have never been here you need to check it out. And if you are already familiar with Lou Malnati’s be sure to order a small pizza and maybe try out a salad, which we hear are fabulous!

Chicago Diner

March 29, 2010

Chicago Diner

3411 N. Halsted St., Chicago IL

Lunch & Dinner ($10/ person)

http://www.veggiediner.com/wp

The Chicago Diner is one of those places that we’ve wanted to try forever! They are a vegetarian restaurant with everything from pasta with “Meatballs” to vegan Irish Carbomb cupcakes. We went on a Saturday night and we were able to park in their free lot, which was great! We read that there is not usually a wait, but when we arrived we were told that it would be about 45 minutes. We were willing to wait, but the problem was that there was nowhere to stand. Most people had to wait outside, but we were able to stand in the doorway and had to jump out of the way every time someone came in or out. When we were seated we ordered a milkshake right away because we had heard such fabulous things. We got the cookie dough peanut butter milkshake along with the fried ravioli as a starter. The milkshake was fantastic (think Reese Peanut Butter Cup), but the ravioli was only okay. It seemed too dry and was kind of bland. Next, we ordered our entrees, a Gyro and BBQ Rib Sandwich. The gyro was amazing. It tasted just like the real thing. The Rib Sandwich, on the other hand, fell short. It was thick and chewy. Now, we haven’t had a rib sandwich in a while, but we expected it to be better. On a positive note, with the entrees we ordered a side of chili and sweat potato fries. Both were good. Although our experience was not the greatest, we would definitely try Chicago Diner again because they have such an interesting menu and all of our veggie friends have nothing but good things to say. We recommend this place to not only vegetarians and healthy eaters, but also to meateaters who want to try something new. If you were looking to try this place we recommend doing it this week because they have great specials to celebrate their 27 year anniversary.

12337 South Route 59
Plainfield, IL 60585

http://www.limestonebrewingcompany.com

Lunch & Dinner ($20/ person)

The other night we were trying to think of somewhere close that we could grab a bite to eat. We remembered that Limestone had recently opened in Plainfield, so we gave it a try. And we were glad that we did! They have a rotating selection of their own beers, brewed in-house, on tap as well as growler fills. They had a pretty good selection of other choices on tap as well as bottled. They were out of their Oatmeal Stout however, which was somewhat disappointing since that was Chris’ first choice. They also had other drink specials, so even the non-beer drinker could enjoy themselves (and save some dough!). The Crab Cake appetizer was a special that night as well so we gave it a try. It was very good. It was full of lump meaty pieces of crab. Next, we tried the Limestone Beer Cheese Soup. We know it sounds unusual, but it was fantastic and definitely surprised everyone at the table. Finally, we got our two delicious entrees. We tried the Fish and Chips(which was beer battered with their own ale) and the Limestone Pasta with shrimp and scallops, tossed together with veggies, marinara, and Feta cheese. We had such a hard time picking our entrees because so much of the menu sounded very appetizing. We hope to be back very soon!

Brickhouse Bakery & Café

February 24, 2010

654 East Roosevelt Road Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Lunch, dinner & bakery ($10/person)

Yesterday we stopped by the Brickhouse Bakery for a quick dinner. We were pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t your typical café, it is more of a cozy little restaurant. It is run by a husband and wife team that work both in the kitchen and out on the floor. They were very friendly and you could tell that they had a great deal of regulars who come in. The prices were good and the food sounded tasty and unique. Unfortunately, there was very little in terms of vegetarian options. However, we did order Baco Sticks, which were almost like big cheese sticks. They were great! Then we split a medium Southwest pizza, it was loaded with tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. It was one of the best pizzas we have ever had. If you’re ever in the area be sure to check out this place. You can grab your food to go, and they have a great bakery selection as well. Keep in mind that the staff is small and so it may not be the fastest service, but everyone is friendly and the food is delicious.

P.S. Tomorrow we are headed to Vegas so be sure to check back next week for all our reviews!!!

358 W. Ontario Street Chicago IL 60610 (River North)

http://www.aichicago.us

Lunch (Mon-Friday) & Dinner ($20/person)

For restaurant week we decided to try out Ai Japanese Restaurant & Lounge. As we said before, the dinner menu was only $32. And you do have to ask for the special menu, they did not just offer it to everyone. As opposed to other places, at Ai we actually got a five course meal, as opposed to three. We began with the Kabocha corn soup, it was a delicious combination of Japanese pumpkin and corn. Next was the Hamachi Carpaccio, it was thinly sliced yellowtail topped with ceviche and citrus ohba. The yellowtail was fantastic. We also got our choice of a signature maki. I chose the Chef Hemmi Spicy Tuna, which was spicy tuna combined with four different roll options. It was very nice to get to try all the different rolls. Chris got the Crazy Jalapeno roll. He was not pleased. Most of the rolls were not hot at all, and one roll seemed to have the entire jalapeno inside. It was extremely hot and it caught him off guard, to say the least. Then, we were served the Demi Pistachio Salmon Teriyaki. The salmon was great, and cooked to perfection, but it was soaked in teriyaki, which was unnecessary. Lastly, we had dessert. We got a Yume Choco, a demi chocolate mousse served with chocolate espresso mochi. The dessert was fantastic and the perfect portion size. By and large our experience at Ai was good. Besides the Jalapeno roll, our only other complaint was the service. Our server was not very friendly, and we would be waiting for our food and drinks for long periods of time while he would be standing around talking with the other servers. I’m not sure that we would go back, but it was fun to try it out during restaurant week.

Restaurant Week

February 20, 2010

For all of you guys that don’t know, this week is restaurant week in Chicago (Feb. 19-28). This is the third annual Restaurant Week, and it really is a great experience. Tons of restaurants around the Chicagoland area are participating. They offer gourmet three-course prix fixe menu options. It is the perfect way to try out a new restaurant or some unique foods. The lunch option costs $22 while dinner is $32. Trust us, it is worth it!

Here is a list on Open Table of the participating places..

http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m=3&ref=1076&pid=270

We also wanted to encourage everyone to use the Open Table site to make reservations. You get points for your reservations (anywhere from 100 t0 1,000) and once you accumulate at least 2,000 points you can get a giftcard for $20 to any of the restaurants. We managed to get 10,000 before and we were therefore given a $100 giftcard. It is free to sign up and it is a good way to find out cool restaurants nearby.

Devon Seafood Grill

February 17, 2010

39 East Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

devonseafood.com

Dinner & Drinks ($40/ person)

We decided to try out Devon Seafood Grill for Valentine’s Day (also Nikki’s birthday). We arrived twenty minutes early, and the restaurant was packed, but we were steated right away because we had requested a table in the wine room during our reservation. The wine room was dimly lit, quite, and very cozy. It was a great atmosphere for Valentine’s Day, and it was fun to check out all the wines. That night they had the choice of their regular menu or a special prefixed one. We chose the prefix and it was $79 for three courses each. A pretty good deal if you ask us! The food was outstanding. We both began with the chef’s selection of Fresh Shucked Oysters (we got 4 each). They came with a nice wasabi sauce and they were pretty large. Next, we got the Char Crusted Ahi Tuna and the Pan Seared Scallops. Both were cooked to perfection. In a place like Devon, which specailizes in seafood, everything should be cooked well, but many times that is not the case. The Ahi Tuna also came with asparagus and yukon potatos, while the scallops came with a lobster risotto. One of the best risotos we have ever had, in fact. Lastly, we both got the chocolate butterscotch tart. It was soft, rich, and delicious. With our dinner we also tried two different wine flights- the Platinum Blondes and the West Coast Crush. Not only was the food and wine so incredible, but our service was great, too. Even on a busy holiday we were out of there in a little over an hour. We will definitely be back!

Tavern on Rush

February 17, 2010

1031 North Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611

Tavernonrush.com

Breakfast, lunch ($12), & dinner ($12-40)

On Valentine’s Day we stopped by Tavern on Rush for a little lunch and a drink. It was full, but we were seated right away. It is a nice, open layout with lots of windows to the outside. It makes for good people watching, and in the summer it opens up to their patio. It took a while before we were waited on, but that is kind of expected on such a busy day. We ordered the Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip and the Margherita brick oven pizza. The pizza was the perfect size to split between two people. It was crisp and very good. The artichoke and crab dip was also good, unfortunately it was served with rock-hard bread that was impossible to bite. That was a bit disapointing. The drinks (we ordered a gin & tonic and a pomegranite martini) were well made, but pricey. However, that can also be expected when you are in the city. All-in-all the Taven on Rush was only okay. We’re not sure that we would go back again. Although they do have an extensive menu that may be worth trying, there are just way too many other restaurants around there that probably have more to offer.

Miller’s Ale House

February 12, 2010

455 East Butterfield Rd., Lombard, IL 60148

http://www.millersalehouse.com

Lunch, Dinner, & Drinks ($7-$20 per entree)

Miller’s is always our go to spot when we want to meet up with friends and just relax. They have games, billiard tables, and tons of TVs. It’s like many other sports bars, but what really keeps us coming back is the the food. The food at Miller’s is miles above any other sports bar and some dishes could rival some larger seafood restaurants. A group of us went there last Saturday and the place was packed. It was a UFC fight night, which they offer without cover, but it is always pretty busy. We found parking in the “extra” lot, and as expected, there was a wait to be seated. Things moved pretty fast while we had a beer or two; only waiting about 20 minutes. We were all hungry so right away we ordered appetizers. It was a case of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs. Chris and I got the Hand Rolled Stuffed Jalapenos and the Onion Rings (huge!). We always love the Stuffed Jalapenos, which are jalapeno coins topped with cream cheese and hand wrapped with filo dough. What other sports bar can you get anything hand wrapped with filo dough? Usually onion rings aren’t my thing either, but I was willing to try them. They were absolutely delicious, especially with the cajun ranch dip that was served with them. Continuing to stuff ourselves we then decided to get the Seafood Mac and Cheese along with there newly added Steamed Seafood Platter, which included a small lobster tail, crab legs, mussels, clams, and potatoes. Let us just note, this is not one of those places that claim to put seafood in your entrees, but you never see it. The Mac and Cheese was also stuffed with shrimp and scallops. Needless to say, with the combination of ordering too much food and the portions being so large, we had to take a lot of it home. It sure made great leftovers though!