Mon Ami Gabi


French restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi has a terrific menu for Chicago Restaurant Week 2018. For $22 you can get a three course meal. I was torn between a salad and French onion soup, then I figured I can make the salad, but when am I going to make French onion soup. This was a delightful choice. Every spoonful of the soup, cheese and bread was heavenly.

For the entree, I followed a similar thought process. The quiche looked tempting, but when would I make steak and pomme frites? I got the steak and it was so tender and delicious.

To top this all off, the meal finished with petite servings of creme bruelé, chocolate mousse and profiteroles. Ahh, these were so cute, so decadent, but yet small enough that the guilt was manageable. If Oakbrook weren’t so far, I’d go back tomorrow.

Our server was attentive, except for forgetting to bring the condiment my cousin requested. However, it was a small thing and he apologized for the small slip.

Goddess and the Baker

I tried Goddess and the Baker  last week for an inexpensive, pre-theater dinner with my friend. Goddess and the Baker offers a wide selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. They have a lot of drinks including fancy juices, coffee drinks, liquid chocolate, soda, wine, and beers.  I enjoyed my turkey sandwich, but it was too big. I wish you could order half a sandwich.

I would have gotten a cookie or brownie, but they were over $3. At $2.50 or a little more, that’s a splurge. These treats were priced higher than I’d pay. It’s for the best as when the sandwich came, I saw it was more than I needed. I just got a Coke™ but they had a lot of fancy drinks that looked beautiful and probably were tasty.

The space is cheerful, but fills up quickly. I imagine at lunch time’s best to get there early. One more warning. I tried to pay with cash. Guess what? They don’t accept it. Go figure.

Brunch at Pinstripes

I’ve been to Pinstripes for lunch and dinner numerous times and have always been pleased with the food and service. When my sister suggested we go to brunch this weekend, I said I thought Pinstripes offered brunch.

When I got there I was amazed at what was offered. They had a stand for omelettes, one for bagels, one for waffles that you could have topped with cinnamon apples, Bananas Foster, whipped Nutella™, and more. There were buffets with pizza, salads, hot dishes, fries, pasta, yogurt parfaits, fruit, pastries. Mimosas are $4 and Bloody Mary’s are $7. Coffee and tea are available for $4 too.

The place was hopping and it was hard to take pictures, but I’ll return and try to get a few more.

It’s $25 for adults, $12 for kids 6-12 and kids under 6 are free.

 

Floriole

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On Webster Street near DePaul, Floriole offers a beautiful setting for its coffee, bakery goods and food. The decor is warm and modern.

I was prepared to love this spot, which was new to me. However, my quiche was so disappointing. In fact, it was the worst I’d ever had. The Starbucks in China offer consistently good quiche for less. How I missed it. This quiche was very custardy or gooey in a way that didn’t appeal to me at all. I ate about half and didn’t enjoy the egg part at all. The price was more than double Starbucks. Also, it’s a place where there’s no table service.

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The Unappealing Quiche

I should have gone up to complain, but I didn’t want to make a fuss. My introversion got in the way. It’s a shame they don’t have employees asking if everything’s alright. I probably would have mentioned the quiche and given them a chance to make me more satisfied.

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hot cider

Their hot apple cider was good, but smaller than I expected for the price.

I might go back, but I’d order something different.

 

Shake Shack

Since I’d seen the 60 Minutes feature on Shake Shack, it seemed high time that I visit this high caloric eatery. Ordering was efficient and the man who took our orders was polite. Even though

I soon got my ShakeBurger and chocolate shake. The shake was decadently delicious, while the burger was good, but nothing exceptional. My friend had the same sandwich and a salted caramel shake, which she said was very good.

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I’d say the burger isn’t on par with what we’d get a Hackney’s, a legendary Chicago-area spot, and it’s not as good as what people make themselves at home, but you’d pay a few dollars more at a better spot.

If you look at the calorie count, you’ll see that Shake Shack is an indulgence. I’d have tried a holiday shake, but those were over 800 calories!

The interior was a step up from a Wendy’s or even the nicest McDonalds.

Shake Shack started in New York and is moving across the country.

Vie Restaurant

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Salmon Amuse-Bouche

In October I visited the award winning Vie Restaurant twice – once for my aunt’s 80th birthday party and last night after attending a wake for my father’s best friend.

The food at the birthday party was terrific. Perhaps I just chose really well. The salad, gnocchi and beef with mashed potatoes and squash I had were terrific. The appetizer selection of cheeses and sausages was also superb.

But last night’s meal, which I went to with my parents and their friends wasn’t as on the mark. Part of the problem was sticker shock. We probably should have expected high prices given the awards the chef has won, but we didn’t. We probably should have figured that the grey book on the table was the drink menu, but we didn’t look at it. So we were shocked to see that the chardonnay my mother ordered was $20 and my red wine, which I didn’t love, was $16 for a glass.

The menu showed the entree prices and described the artistic offerings. The problem was each item had something that needed an explanation. Will I like “sweet potato-tofu hash”? Probably not. What is blueberry aigre doux or pickled ramp remoulade or tatsoi? It took our party a long time to order because the menu was so gourmet.

It’s not like we’re bumpkins, but none of us was up on all the trends.

After our drinks arrived we were given some bread, which was a lovely sour dough and butter. Then we got an amuse-bouche, salmon with a tomato mayonnaise.

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I played it safe and ordered the shaved asian pears, mesclun, pancetta, giardiniera vinaigrette, crispy sauerkraut salad and the hamburger.

It took quite a while for our food to come. The pacing this night was off.

If I’d known my wine would be so pricey, I would not have ordered the salad, which for all the flowery description, wasn’t as good as what I can make myself. The pears sure were shaved, so much so that they didn’t add much flavor. The grilled sauerkraut sounded exotic, but tasted like just thinly julienned fried anything. The salad wasn’t bad and the portion was big enough to share, but I wasn’t blown away.

 

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The hamburger was fine too. Not the best I’ve had, but not the worst. It was alright, but for $19, I expect wonderful. The french fries weren’t at all good. They were shorter than usual, greasier and too salty. A lot of fast food establishments do better with fries. I just ate half the burger and fewer than half the fries and the doggy bag is stored in the fridge. Typically, a good burger will be my first choice for lunch the next day, but I figured I can wait as it wasn’t spectacular. I’ll probably throw out the fries.

The other members of the party had the white fish or the black fish. They were satisfied but not blown away.

The service was fine, but nothing special. I think the waitress was tentative because she got off to a poor start by asking, “Are you celebrating anything tonight?” We let her know we’d just come from a wake.  She was nice, but a bit aloof. My father asked for recommendations and hers seemed contrived.

The Who Café

I’d seen 3D latte art in Taipei on Instagram so when I visited I asked my hotel to suggest where I could find a café that offers it and they came up with The Who Café which is a couple blocks from the Taipei 101 MRT station, exit 2. It’s hard to find as it’s on the second floor and the stairs are between a garage and a cake shop.

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When I went there, I passed it the first time I went up the street. I did find it, but didn’t know they didn’t open till 11:00 am so my plan for breakfast there was out. (I wound up going back up the street to a Starbucks.)

Later in the day I returned and got the cat latte above. I got the brown sugar latte which was sweet but not too sweet. The Who Café is best to visit when you’re not in a hurry because the artful lattes do take time and it also seemed like the staff wasn’t all that organized. So though I had to leave in a rush, I would go back and was happy with my drink.