Event, Chicago Magazine

A Toast to Chicago’s Best

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

Chicago magazine hosted its annual event on August 11, 2016, toasting some of Chicago’s best. Best of Chicago 2016 honored the city’s top culinary, cultural, and business talent selected by Chicago magazine’s editors and readers.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Hundreds gathered inside Morgan Manufacturing for small bites provided by Monteverde, Dos Urban Cantina, Swift & Sons, Stan’s Donuts, and more, and specialty cocktails by the city’s best mixologists and wines from Chloe Wine Collection.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Mario Tricoci was on hand offering manicures, makeup touch-ups and massages, and Kia was showing off some new rides.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

The evening’s charitable partner, SOS Children’s Villages, which builds Villages that unite brothers and sisters in foster care, surround them with a community of hope, and help them grow into caring and productive adults, spread its mission to the attendees, as well.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

DJ Lani Love, voted Best DJ in the Readers’ Choices awards in 2015, ramped up the revelry and capped off the evening by getting everybody dancing and celebrating some of Chicago’s best. Overall, it was a wonderful evening of sampling bites and drinks from some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and mixologists, being pampered, and celebrating Chicago in one spot.

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received complimentary passes to this event, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Chicago, Private Club

University Club of Chicago

The University Club of Chicago, one of the nation’s finest private clubs which was founded more than a century ago, exists to broaden opportunities in the business world, and to nurture and sustain social successes. Established in 1887, the Club was founded for the purpose of fostering an appreciation of literature and the arts. College or university graduation remains the basic requirement for membership, and within the membership nearly every business and profession is represented. In addition to professional and social opportunities, the Club also offers unparalleled food and beverage offerings, a bevy of cultural programs, and well-appointed accommodations for members and guests.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

I recently visited the Club in order to tour the facilities and learn more about its dining program. James Beard nominee Mark Baker has served as Executive Chef of the Club since 2002, after nearly 23 years with the Four Seasons Hotel Group. During his time at the Club, Baker has brought his sensible, distinct style of cooking to each area, blending the history and tradition that make it such a unique place. And, the food at the Club is one of the reasons why I selected it to be my wedding venue in 2012!

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: Chritiques at The University Club of Chicago

The Club offers various dining options, depending on the time of day and year. During my visit, I dined on the patio of the Gallery, which is open from May through September, and boasts one of the finest views of Millennium Park and Chicago’s lakefront. The Gallery is open for lunch, dinner and cocktails, and focuses on local produce, seasonal ingredients, and a tapas-inspired menu of shareable plates.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: Chritiques at The University Club of Chicago

During colder months, Cathedral Hall is available for fine dining during dinner hours; College Hall offers self-service lunch dining; and the Front Grill offers a full service grill menu seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. And, rumor has it that the Club is currently building out an 8th floor rooftop deck that is slated to open late summer, 2017, and will be available to members only for food and drinks.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

Built in 1908, the Club recently underwent a full renovation of its guest rooms, featuring Restoration Hardware bedding and Molton Brown bath amenities. Additionally, the Club offers a wide range of special events and activities, as well as several special interest groups, which foster both business and personal relationships with other members.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

The Club is also well-known for its squash program, and courts, leagues and lessons are all available, in addition to a full service Pro Shop. Additionally, a strength training center, cardio center, golf center and aquatics center are all available in the Club.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

For those interested in membership at the University Club of Chicago, initiation fees are currently being waived. To learn more about membership, please email membership@ucco.com or call (312) 696-2226.

University Club of Chicago

76 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received a complimentary meal in order to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Chicago Loop

Revival Food Hall

Forget what you think when you hear the phrase “food hall.” A sleek, modern version will be arriving in Chicago’s Loop any day now, and it is unlike any other. Operated by Chicago hospitality collective 16″ On Center (Moneygun, Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle, among others), Revival Food Hall is an all-local dining concept spotlighting the best of Chicago’s acclaimed culinary scene all in one spot.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Nick Fochtman, Eater Chicago

The massive, 24,000 square foot venue is located in the heart of The Loop and on the ground floor of the fully restored 1907 Daniel Burnham designed building, The National. Featured are 15 of Chicago’s favorite neighborhood restaurants in a grab-and-go setting, plus a handful of all-new, quick-serve concepts from several acclaimed Chicago chefs. Some vendors offer wine, beer and cocktails, with Revival Bar serving draft cocktails, as well.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

The space is modern and bright, with a high-energy atmosphere that promotes people to get in and get out, rather than linger over a long meal. Counter seating is available at some of the kiosks, with communal seating spread throughout the space, as well.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Nick Fochtman, Eater Chicago

Breakfast-time favorites will include a stop at Graze Kitchenette for the Avocado Matcha bowl, with mango, coconut, goji berry, lime and granola, Harvest Juicery for Green Juice #3, and at the Revival Café for La Colombe’s Draft Latte. You have not had a latte until you have had a La Colombe Draft Latte.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

Popular lunch spots will be Smoque BBQ for some of the best ribs and brisket in the city, The Budlong for Nashville Hot Chicken, Antique Taco for its Crispy Fish Tacos and House Rosemary Margarita, the food truck favorite The Fat Shallot for Grilled Cheese and Truffle Fries, Aloha Pokê Co. for pokê bowls that all the kids are going crazy for, and, especially in the winter or when fighting a lingering cold, Furious Spoon for the Citrus Chicken Shio Ramen that will have you sweating from the first slurp.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

And how can you forget dessert? Three words: Black Dog Gelato. With a rotating menu of seven options, made fresh in-house daily, cones, cups, and both Root Beer and Turkish Floats will be available. Chicago pastry queen Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is also in the house, serving up her acclaimed cookies, hot chocolate, and other sweets.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Black Dog Gelato

Finally, for happy hour, Revival’s bar will be serving beer, wine and cocktails, and Danke, from the team behind the popular Logan Square restaurant Table, Donkey & Stick, will serve customizable charcuterie and cheese plates designed to pair with a curated list of unique and affordable wines and craft beers.

Hungry Loop workers, rejoice!

Revival Food Hall

125 South Clark Street, Chicago

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tastefully,

Christina

River North, Chicago

Joy District

In the space that Epic used to call home, the folks behind Hubbard Inn have masterfully renovated the interior, and overhauled the menu of shared plates, meats and seafood, and have recently reopened the three-level monolith called Joy District. Where Epic was more about the weekend drinking scene, Joy District concentrates on food, but still offers a trendy bar where you can see and be seen, and enjoy an array of specialty and classic cocktails, and a formidable listing of wine and beer offerings.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Joy District’s first floor is the main dining area, while it’s second floor will be used almost exclusively for private events. Its rooftop, opening Thursday, will resemble what you would find at a high-end Miami nightclub, with white drapery, chic brown furniture, and unmistakable River North views.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

Order the St. Germain Cocktail or an Old Fashioned and peruse the menu. All items are plenty large to share among two or more people. The Grilled Spanish Octopus Tacos are a must-order. Three flour tortillas are filled with marinated octopus, sweet corn relish, green garlic aioli and micro arugula. It was the best thing that I have tried at Joy District.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

Skip the unmemorable Spicy Tuna Hamachi Roll, however, and order a Burrata & Heirloom Tomato salad for the table. Wedges of seasonal heirloom tomatoes are served along side sweet & sour onions, buttery grilled bread, and a lovely aged balsamic. The creamy Burrata melds the flavors together and melts in your mouth.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

The Spiced Wedge salad is just huge, and can be described as a sightlier healthy version of nachos. Too salty for my taste, an entire head of iceberg lettuce is served with a chipotle buttermilk dressing, corn bread croutons, fire roasted chilis, cilantro, avocado, and baked black beans. This salad has a lot going on, and quite powerful flavors.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

The Sautéed Sea Scallops make for an excellent entree, also worthy of sharing. The perfectly seared and meaty scallops sit atop a bed of nicely cooked sweet pea risotto, with Cippolini onions, pea tendrils, and shaved Marcona almonds, along with a drizzle of white balsamic.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

The “Jucy Lucy” Slagel Farm Cheese Burger may be the only item on the menu not easily shared. The cheddar cheese-filled burger with both grilled and raw onion and house made pickles makes for a messy meal. I found the house made tots served on the side to be quite doughy and lacking flavor, but they were improved by the house made ketchup that had notes of cinnamon. Skip the burger, and stick with the shareables.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

Forego the Blueberry Lemon Cake, which other than the buttermilk sorbet I found to be inedible, and head to the rooftop for an after dinner drink and some excellent people watching.

River North, Chicago

Photo: Chritiques at Joy District

Joy District is a great spot to grab an after work drink, or to enjoy dinner with friends. It is open seven days a week,  beginning at 3 p.m., until late night. Reservations are accepted.

Joy District

112 West Hubbard Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654

Tastefully,

Christina

While my meal was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Travel Guide: Charleston, South Carolina

After recently returning from Spain, I cannot seem to shake the travel bug, which has prompted me to offer my next installment in my travel guide series. Last September, I finally made it to Charleston, South Carolina, which had been on my travel list for a while. After hearing so many incredible things about the city, the people, and of course, the food, I eagerly anticipated my visit, and I was not disappointed.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

We stayed at The Vendue, a newly rehabbed hotel dedicated to the arts. Made up of seven former warehouses, dating back to the 1780’s, no two rooms are alike, and over 300 pieces of original art have been installed for guests to enjoy. With its location in Charleston’s historic French Quarter, it is centrally situated and within walking distance of all the main sites and Michelin-worthy restaurants.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: The Vendue

Our corner room was very spacious, well-appointed, and comfortable, complete with a fireplace and a carafe of brandy.  The hotel offers complimentary bikes for guests to use in order to discover more of the southern city founded in 1670. It also boasts an excellent rooftop bar, complete with sweeping views of the Charleston Harbor, Waterfront Part, the Arthur Ravenel, Jr., Bridge, and more.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: The Vendue

Steps from The Vendue, Waterfront Park boasts Charleston’s famous Pineapple fountain, and offers fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor. From there, it is an easy stroll along East Battery Street and through White Point Garden to see gorgeous southern mansions, cannons and cannon balls, and views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

No trip to Charleston is complete without a walk down Rainbow Row to see a series of thirteen colorful historic houses. Rainbow Row is the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States, and received its moniker as a result of the pastel colors each was painted after being restored in the 1930s and 40s.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

A visit to a true southern plantation is also a must. First settled in the late 17th century, with its main family residence constructed in 1705, Middleton Place has remained under the same family stewardship for some 320 years. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens. Built in 1755, the House Museum collections interpret generations of the Middleton family: rice barons who helped shape the U.S. from its founding through the Civil War.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

Other activities include a tour of Fort Sumter, a round at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, shopping along Historic King Street, and a visit to Folly Beach or Sullivan’s Island.

Charleston is a foodie’s paradise, and we had our fair share of incredible meals. We started with lunch at Poogan’s Porch, featuring traditional southern cooking served in a Victorian townhouse with porches and a massive wine cellar. The fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese fritters are not to be missed.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

Queen Street Grocery, established in 1922 as a corner grocery store, was an excellent spot for brunch, with fantastic crepes, omelets and sandwiches.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

For some of the best biscuits in town, head to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, a small grab & go eatery featuring a variety of piping hot award-winning biscuits, pimento cheese sandwiches, and a range of other delicious and locally inspired breakfast, lunch and late night treats.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

Dinner at Slightly North of Broad, or S.N.O.B., was excellent. An eclectic Lowcountry bistro, bringing together an abundance of fresh ingredients and thoughtful presentation, even the basic-sounding vegetable plate impressed us, as did the freshly smoked salmon.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

My favorite meal was at McCrady’s, Sean Brock’s first Charleston restaurant, located within a 1778 four-story Georgian house. McCrady’s represents the amalgam that is new Southern fine dining, showcasing the understated elegance of the space, alongside cutting-edge cooking techniques. McCrady’s bar specializes in handcrafted cocktails, along with an award-winning wine list.

Charleston, South Carolina, Travel

Photo: Chritiques

Everyone can find something to love about Charleston. It is comfortable, easy to navigate, and boasts historical sites, some of the country’s best restaurants, pre-Civil War-era houses, antique shops, beaches, golf courses, and more. While this was my first time visiting this small but mighty city, it certainly will not be my last.

Tastefully,

Christina