I apologize for my absence but I have a really good excuse. Wes and I went on a little weekend getaway to Chicago. It shouldn't surprise anyone who has been following this blog to note that our primary purpose for the trip was food! After watching Top Chef Masters, we were smitten with Rick Bayless and Graham Elliot. Conveniently enough for us, they both have restaurants in Chicago. Wes jokingly mentioned that we should just fly up and hit both of them and I laughed at first but then the wheels started turning. I rationalized with myself that we could use this as our Christmas gift to each other. After all, it's something we would both thoroughly enjoy and Christmas is right around the corner. Well whatever you label it as, we had a great time and had some darn good food!
I debated on writing reviews for each of the restaurants but I ultimately decided against it. I will at least mention them though and if anyone plans on going to the area and would like more details, feel free to ask.
First up was a non-Top Chef restaurant but it has it's own acclaim. Alinea is ranked #20 in the WORLD! Seriously, I ate at the 20th best restaurant in the world - can we say once in a lifetime?! The creativity this chef demonstrates is unmatched. He has his dinnerware and the accoutrements made especially for the restaurant. It truly was amazing and a night we won't soon forget. I'm almost at a loss for words in trying to explain it to you. I was able to snap one photo of our dessert masterpiece before I was reprimanded for the flash. The chef himself came to our table to create this delight. I believe there were in the neighborhood of 10 different elements to this dish. And yes, that is right on our table - no plates for this one!
After coming down off that high, we had breakfast the next morning at Yolk. It has been voted "best breakfast" but I was not impressed with either of our dishes. Wes reminded me we weren't in the south and no one does breakfast like we do!
We walked off breakfast rather quickly and were ready for our brunch/lunch at Frontera Grill. For all the hype surrounding Rick Bayless after his Top Chef victory, I was not terribly impressed with his restaurant. Perhaps he needs to spend a little more time and effort on that and less on becoming a television star. The food was mediocre at best and the bathrooms were disgusting! Seriously, I would have been ashamed if I was the owner to walk in and see such shambles.
Finally we sucked in our guts and stumbled over to Graham Elliot for dinner. Of all the places we went, I was most impressed with the decor here. It was urban chic and just put off a hip vibe. The food was all very good but after having eaten at one of the best restaurants in the world the night before, it was hard to compare. The most notable part of the dinner was the brioche twinkie served alongside the Caesar salad. Seriously, the creativity and ingenuity the chefs these days have is just amazing!
You know me well enough to know that I had to hit up a few sweet spots as well. We stopped at 2 cupcake joints, Sugar Bliss and More (see photo below from More). I got a red velvet at Sugar Bliss and a white velvet at More. My hands down favorite was Sugar Bliss. The icing was more my style - less butter and more cream cheese. More wins out in design and artistic flair. They also have some of the most interesting flavors I've ever heard of - Thanksgiving Feast was one of them and it was a savory cake with a stuffing-flavored cake and sage butter icing. They also have one with Foie Gras. I wanted to try one of each but big city = big price tags!
We had a great time but were anxious to get home to see Colin. Too bad he couldn't say the same. He had so much fun at Buff and Ba-baw's that he didn't miss us for a minute. Wes and I wondered how long it would take him to totally forget us. I'd like to think he'd eventually miss us?!