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Best boozy dessert

Food & Drink, South Loop No Comments »

French apple at Acadia
Calvados roasted Granny Smith apple still has a subtle crunch, nestled in a cool and creamy cinnamon custard, with a quenelle of canelé ice cream. The dish is topped with arcs of caramelized puff pastry reminiscent of flaky croissant crumbs. The booze factor steps up with a side shot of apple cider and Armagnac in pastry chef Thomas Raquel’s version of a hot toddy. All the familiar fall flavors are here, yet this dessert is unique, more alluring than any apple pie, crisp or apfelstrudel you’ve tasted.
1639 South Wabash, (312)360-9500, acadiachicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best underground dinner

Food & Drink No Comments »

The Octagon Mode
On her website, Erika Stone-Miller claims to be “an alternative to Chicago’s fine dining scene” and she nails it. At $100 (you get a $15 discount if you share an interesting fact about yourself), this BYOB eight-course feast mimics a fine dining experience with its flavors, precision, service and atmosphere, but with the bonhomie of a dinner party. Stone-Miller slips seamlessly from chic hostess (she’s worked at L2O and Blackbird) to a chef in a black apron and orange crocs. The menu changes weekly and we cannot wait to return.
theoctagonmode.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best chicken

Audience Choice, Food & Drink No Comments »

Whole roasted chicken for two at The Lobby
Chicken breast is often a boring choice on menus, an oft-dry and tasteless option for less adventurous eaters. Not at The Peninsula. Louche quantities of butter and herbed brioche stuffed beneath a crisp golden brown skin ensures the meat beneath stays succulent. This winter, the bird comes accompanied by prunes, brussels sprouts and sweet potato. But before you can dig in, there’s more. The dark meat arrives, a confit in cream and chicken jus nestled in a small crock. Now, you may begin.
In the Peninsula, 108 East Superior, (312)337-2888, peninsula.com/Chicago/en/Dining/The_Lobby

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 3361 North Elston, (773)478-4000, honeybutter.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best cocktails for the indecisive

Food & Drink No Comments »

The Dealer’s Choice at The Berkshire Room
Just pick your poison, flavor profile and glass type and let the bartenders do their magic. We’ve yet to be disappointed. A light and refreshing gin drink with blueberries on the rocks was one of the best drinks we had this summer.
In the Acme Hotel, 15 East Ohio, (312)894-0800, theberkshireroom.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best place for dessert

Audience Choice, Food & Drink No Comments »

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
If there’s one dessert destination to scream for, it’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The first Chicago location of the Columbus, Ohio-based ice creamery already draws a ravenous fan base to its Lakeview storefront, and for good reason. Pristine ingredients (farm-fresh goat cheese; fair-trade African vanilla bean) and unique flavors (brambleberry crisp; biscuits and peach jam) set this adorable scoop shop apart from the pint pack, making it the perfect spot to linger over a sundae, a macaroon ice cream sandwich, or just a scoop stuffed inside a freshly made waffle cone.
3404 North Southport, (773)348-7139, jenis.com

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Black Dog Gelato, 859 North Damen, (773)235-3116, blackdogchicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best gin & tonic

Food & Drink, South Loop No Comments »

Gins/tonics/limes at Acadia
Chicago might not be at Spain’s level of gin & tonic sophistication, but many bartenders are starting to make their own tonics with quinine, usually in the form of powdered cinchona bark. Our favorite is Ar?nas Bružas’ lemongrass tonic with notes of lavender and pink peppercorn at Acadia, which he serves with Botanist gin. This nuanced summer cocktail slowly changes flavors as the kaffir lime and cucumber ice cubes melt, lending the drink a rejuvenating spa water quality.
1639 South Wabash, (312)360-9500, acadiachicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best place to go after a gallery opening that’s not Perez

Food & Drink, West Loop No Comments »

Grange Hall Burger Bar
You can get a burger and a beer at Grange Hall for less than $20, and that’s saying a lot in the West Loop. The food is delicious and the decor is super cute. Sure beats the typical after-gallery spot, the usually crowded and medium-par Perez. The rainbow chips are particularly recommended.
844 West Randolph, (312)491-0844, grangehallburgerbar.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best cup of tea

Food & Drink, Ravenswood No Comments »

Ch’ava Cafe
You can go to Russian Tea Time for an experience, the Drake for aperitifs and white-gloved pomp and circumstance, any number of tea shops in Chicago for a decent cuppa but you will not find a more singular devotion to the leaf that is brewed than at Ravenswood’s Ch’ava. Year after year, owner Rich Park has quietly but unapologetically been brewing a selection of teas, mostly from Kilogram Tea (neé Intelligentsia) but also a handpicked selection from small farms, second to none. This isn’t to mention the coffee and artisanal soups and sandwiches—but we digress.
4656 North Clark, (773)942-6763, chavacafe.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best bottled cocktail

Food & Drink No Comments »

Bottled malört and house tonic at Barrelhouse Flat
Greg Butera somehow uses a combination of Jeppson’s malört and R. Franklin malört to make the medicinal spirit palatable. We’re guessing the secret lies in his house tonic and we are tempted to buy these by the six-pack to take home. They’re bottled, so it shouldn’t be a problem, right?
2624 North Lincoln, (773)857-0421, barrelhouseflat.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best mignardise

Food & Drink No Comments »

Sixteen
Even after the most decadent meal, it’s impossible to resist the mignardise trolley at Sixteen. With the fall menu they don’t even ask which you’d like, but simply present a selection of six different chocolate truffles/bonbons and several other sweet bites, including a pumpkin pate de fruit, riff on a Butterfinger, nougat, macaron and maple walnut fudge. Check inside the drawers of the jewelry box with the check for more sweets. We couldn’t help but try each, and the pear caramel chocolate bonbon and Butterfinger were favorites.
In the Trump Hotel, 401 North Wabash, (312)588-8030, sixteenchicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013