Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunda

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Sunda has gotten a lot of publicity since it opened a little less than a year ago.

Fun Ambience. Exquiste decor. Great people watching. Flavorful food. Tasty cocktails.

On a whim, we decided to try our luck at getting a table at Sunda on a Saturday night without reservations. We did not want to sit at the sushi bar or the lounge. We decided to get a drink at the bar and see if any spots opened up. The cocktails are creative and well-executed.  The busboy noticed that we were waiting and said he would reserve the next opening at the bar for us. He was awesome-- within 10 minutes we got a lovely spot at the bar with the bartender as our very own server. 

To make the most out of my Sunda experience, I was urged to focus on small plates and dishes that were not available elsewhere. I would agree with that statement. Sunda will not be the best sushi or the best dumplings you have ever had. It will be a fun night filled with good cocktails and flavorful food.

We ordered the following dishes. 

Longevity Garlic Noodles... lo mein, toasted garlic, butter
The bartender recommended this dish. And I now recommend it to you. The toasted garlic added an intense flavor to an otherwise simple dish. Delicious dish.

Indo Corn Fritters... fresh corn, coriander, garlic, sweet onion-ginger sauce. 
Slightly too big. A tasty appetizer. 

Wild Asian Mushroom And Asparagus Toban... shemiji, shiitake, enoki, black and oyster mushrooms, ginger vinaigrette. 
The toban (chili bean paste) brought out incredible flavors in the mushrooms. The asparagus was well seasoned and added a nice texture to the dish. I wanted to lick my plate... I almost did.

Lemongrass beef lollipops... NY strip beef, spicy chili glaze
Very tender strip steak rolled into a lollipop around a lemongrass stalk. Well executed and flavorful.

Sunda was fun. I might even go back again, but with reservations for a table. 

Brunch Roundup: Perennial, m. henry, flo

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I had delicious brunches at three new (for me) places this month: Perennial, m. henry, and flo.

Perennial

This was my first visit to Perennial. The food was elegant and flavorful and service was professional.

I had the grilled cheese and roasted garlic tomato soup... aged cheddar on texas toast. The soup was perfect for a cold winter morning. The flavors are elevated by the roasted garlic.

I sampled my companion's french toast... almond baguette, apples, lemon ginger creme fraiche. Wow.

Oh Perennial, you make me want to come running back for dinner!

m. henry

We managed to get a table immediately after walking in. The decor lacked personality but was inviting.

I was in the mood for Mexican-inspired brunch. So I had the Latina omeletta... black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, sharp cheddar, and chipotle sauce. Accompanied by sweet plantains sauteed in butter and oven roasted potatoes. Simply delicious. The fresh cilantro and green onions take omeletta to another level. The quality and freshness of the food was superb.

We ordered yuba, which is made from cream that rises to the top of soy milk when making tofu. I found it strange and ridiculously salty.

The service was spot on. My coffee mug was never empty or lukewarm. We felt a bit rushed when we got the check, but it was understandable because there were a lot of people waiting.

flo

I was looking forward to trying the Mexican/ New-Mexican inspired menu at Flo. After much indecision, I decided to order the chilaquiles with scrambled eggs, red onion, and red chile sauce (a la New Mexican cuisine). It could have been served a little hotter. The corn tortilla pieces were the perfect texture. The dish was oversauced but tasty. I couldn't finish the dish, it was too large. Service was slow. Our mimosas were sitting at the bar for about 10 minutes waiting to be served at the table. 

I am always on the search for good chilaquiles, and the ones at Flo were good, not great. Now that I am craving a breakfast burrito. I am willing to give Flo another chance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Purple Pig

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The Purple Pig is all about Cheese, Swine, & Wine. It is a collaboration between Chefs Scott Harris of Mia Francesca, Jimmy Bannos Jr. and Jimmy Bannos Sr. of Heaven on Seven.

We first went through the iron The Purple Pig gate on Michigan Ave only to find that there is not an entrance to the restaurant on upper Illinois. We quickly realized that the entrance must be inside the 500 N Michigan Ave building, and sure enough the security guard pointed us towards down the hall to the entrance. There was a line of people waiting, all holding glasses of wine. We too decided to enjoy a bottle of Portuguese allentejo while we waited, grateful that we were indoors in the warmth. About an hour later, we were finally seated.

I was in the mood for antipasti, cheese, and wine. I ordered an excellent selection of olives and pickles, a heavenly whipped feta with cucumbers spread, and sicilian marinated eggplant. The whipped feta was light, had good salt, and was delicious.

I was quite pleased with the cheese selection and decided on a selection of 3 cheeses:
  • Delice de bourgogne. French, cow. What's not to love? It is buttery, creamy, tangy with nice acidity but not overly salty.
  • Capriole O'bannon. US, goat. I am not a fan of this cheese. I appreciate the sweet tang of the bourbon soaked chestnut leaf but the cheese itself is creamy, chalky, and lacks any oomph. I love fresh goat cheese that is light (less chalky) and lemony. Capriole O'Bannon is mild, unripened, even bland.
  • Covadonga. Spanish, cow/sheep. Soft, blue, milder than valdeon but still spicy, salty.
My dining companion ordered prosciutto bread balls and pork blade steak with 'nduja & honey. The latter was a bit dry, but otherwise good.

It was a fun night. Would love to try more of their wines.
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