Monday, June 9, 2014

Cicchetti

Location: 671 N St. Clair
Cost: Probably around $30-$40 per person

Speaking of Italian restaurants in Streeterville, there's one that just moved into the vacant spot on the first floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. My senior resident, Sonam, and I were going to get lunch when our coworkers Joel and Geoff honed in on the action. What was meant to be a quick Chick-fil-a run was sideswiped into a more formal affair (although we didn't bother to change out of scrubs). That's how we ended up trying Cicchetti.

Logistics
Cicchetti is right on St. Claire to the side of the NMH entrance. It has this nice internal connection so we don't even have to walk outside to get there. The interior design is really cool with these high rafters and plenty of wood. It's pretty popular right now, and you'll probably need a reservation for dinner. Lunch was no problem to walk in to. The cost is a bit up there for lunch. They've got a few sandwiches at $13 but otherwise the substantial dishes are between $15 and $30. Our waitress was very attentive and was able to get us back to work in a timely fashion.

The Food
Everyone was pretty hungry and we got a few appetizers to start with. Nonna's Meatballs had this chunky sauce with bits of pancetta strewn throughout, making for a complex starter. The roasted mushroom pizza was also spot on. There was plenty of caramelized onion, and the crust was perfectly chewy with a snap to the first bite. The Anjou Pear Salad was well balanced and has had me hooked on pears for a while since.

The Meatballs

The Roasted Mushroom Pizza

For the "main course" we split the Braised Short Rib Ravioli and the Braised Pork Shoulder and Provolone Panino. The ravioli were delicate with these hearty shavings of parmesan over the top. The panini was my favorite item. The fried egg on top was perfectly runny and the giardiniera added a ton of flavor. The bread soaked up the oil from the pork and giardiniera along with the egg yolk to make for a fantastic bite.

The Braised Pork Shoulder Pannini 

 The Braised Short Rib Ravioli

Overall
I'm well versed in hotel lobby restaurants, but hospital lobby restaurants are a whole other ballgame. I barely scraped the surface of this menu, and despite being open for lunch, this seems like a restaurant built for dinner. I've also heard the cocktails are fantastic. The panini and the meatballs were my favorite items. I'm giving them 4 out of 5 Pearls and hope to get back for dinner before skipping town.


Cicchetti on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tre Soldi

Location: 212 E Ohio
Cost: Probably around $35 per person

If you're a resident or medical student at Northwestern, you've probably noticed a decrease in the amount of free lunches entailing big slices of greasy rectangular pizza. That's because Pompei closed. I'm sure there are a few mourning the loss, but the other day my senior resident, Danielle, recommended I try out the new place that moved into the empty space, Tre Soldi. My Aunt and Uncle were in town on a business trip, so Jenny, my parents, and I met up with them to check it out.

Logistics
Just a few steps up off the curb, Tre Soldi did a decent job of turning what was once an Italian cafeteria into a moderately classy joint. They've got a room full of flat tops, and we sat right in the middle. We had a reservation but could've gotten by without one. Parking in the area is a pain so I suggest you take public transit if you can. The cost is reasonable with pasta dishes in the $15 range and protein based entrees sitting in the low $20's. The wine list has plenty of reasonably priced and moderate quality options. My uncle and the waiter became good friends, and our service was spectacular.

The Food
We got the ball rolling with a selection of their meats and cheeses, lamb meatballs, and stuffed zucchini blossoms. The accouterments pulled the meats and cheeses together nicely. The meatballs had plenty of acid but were a bit oily. I've never been one for zucchini blossoms but as far as they come these seemed good.

 The Zucchini Blossoms

The Cheese Platter

For the main course we got a bunch of things but what stood out was the Salmon and the Cacio E Pepe. The fish was very mildly overdone but came across a chickpea puree that gave a nice textural balance to the dish. The pasta had a good chew with plenty of creamy, unctuous cheese.

The Cacio E Pepe

 The Salmon

 The Halibut

For dessert we had some Gelato and the Fruit Crostata. Both were a refreshing end to the meal on what turned out to be a rather warm summer's night.

The Fruit Crostata

The Gelato

Overall
In case you haven't caught onto the hints, Tre Soldi is definitely an upgrade from Pompei. It's a good, reasonable option for Streeterville, which definitely could use more quality, casual go to's. I'm giving them 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Tre Soldi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Location: 218 W Kinzie
Cost: About $70 per person

Many of you may not know this, but I am not long for this city (more to come on the future of JEC). One of the reasons I've had less frequency of posting is because I've been going back to my favorite places that I've already written about. There are still some places on a bucket list of sorts though. My friend Ashley and I were in the mood for a good steak. She was finishing up a rotation of overnight shifts, and I was closing out my second month on the Transplant service, making a celebratory meal even more appropriate. So we ended up checking out Bavette's Bar & Boeuf.

Logistics
Bavette's is off Kinzie just West of the Merchandise Mart. If you weren't looking for it, you'd walk right by. It's got a very dark and classy vibe with plenty of hard wood inside. They've got a lengthy bar where I enjoyed an old fashioned while waiting for Ashley to get off work. Getting a reservation is key and can be a bit tough during popular time slots. They also don't take parties larger than 6. Our service was spot on, although I don't know if our waiter picked up on Ashley's "limited" tastes when making recommendations. As with many steakhouses, the price depends on what you're going for, but they've got plenty of entrees around $30.

The Food
We got the meal started with the Smoked Whitefish Ceasar Salad and the Peppered Duck and Goat Cheese Terrine. Both dishes were great. The salad was heavy on the fish and had the right amount of thick, savory dressing. The terrine had a smooth texture that went well with the toast points when topped with the apricot preserves on the side. The goat cheese added more texture than flavor and was a bit lost in the dish to me though.

 The Peppered Duck and Goat Cheese Terrine

The Smoked Whitefish Ceasar Salad

From there Ashley got the Filet, and I got the Classic Ribeye. My steak had a simple salt rub. There was a sear on the top and a solid medium rare center. Like many of their steaks it came with a side of creamy bearnaise. For our sides we got the Elote Style Corn and the Buttery Mashed Potatoes. The corn had a spicy and creamy kick while the potatoes had plenty of garlic and this chicken gravy that put them just over the edge.

The Ribeye

 The Filet

 The Elote Corn

 The Mashed Potatoes

Overall
Bavette's just has that right steakhouse feel down. There's a classy yet trendy environment, a variety of price points, and a bunch of little twists on steakhouse standards. The only dish I would replace in my experience was the Terrine. I'm giving them 4.5 out of 5 Pearls and wish I had the time to go back before skipping town.

Bavette's Bar and Boeuf on Urbanspoon