Monday, October 25, 2010

Nightwood or The Dream Donut

The Slow and Savory Review

After all the excitement of the blog launch last week, Our Ladies needed a destination fitting of their new-found celebrity status. Eventually, they settled on Nightwood, a charmingly modern, yet rustic bistro in the heart of the Pilsen neighborhood. They were joined by a delightful couple from the Bayou, Biscuit and Birdie Brown, friends of Bunny and Brandy’s since time immorial.

The Quartet were seated immediately upon arrival. They were taken to the covered porch area, which boasted a fireplace and surprisingly comfortable wire chairs. Their table was even ornamented for their arrival with festive corn cobs and a pumpkin. Brandy thought this special treatment was due to their iconic reputation until Bunny pointed out that all the tables were bedecked in such a way.
Hot beverages were roundly ordered: a Chai for Birdie, a Cappuccino for Biscuit, and a spiced cider for Brandy, which she was delighted to hear, could be “spirited” for an extra $5.

Our Ladies and their invited guests perused the handwritten menus with great interest, until all 8 of their eyes zeroed in on the top right hand corner. Fresh…handmade…donuts. There were three options that day: a Seasonal Cider Soaked Donut, a pseudo S’mores Donut with smoked chocolate glaze, and Nightwood’s signature Bacon Butterscotch Donut. Each pastry was presented with 3 cinnamon sugar donut holes and all of the above were devoured in mere seconds; the Butterscotch Bacon being the standout because of its sweet/salty/smokey combo. (Our Ladies would be remissed if I didn't mention that the Browns had to be discouraged from licking their plates. “We do things differently down South!” was Birdie’s impassioned reply.)

For the main event, Our Party ordered thusly: Biscuit favored the Baked Ricotta with Pumpkin Seed Pesto while Birdie set his eye upon the Pastrami and Roasted Onion Frittata. The baked cheese dish came daintily plated with crostini, a poached egg, a honeyed apple, and a small olive salad. Though overwhelming to the senses, Biscuit reported the dish to be fluffy and nice, but not very flavorful. Birdie’s Fritatta was subtle as well, but the chopped chicken liver croutons that accompanied it lent a little bit of boldness.

As for Our Ladies, Bunny settled on the Butternut Squash and Duck Confit Quiche and Brandy the Mushroom and Onion Stuffed French Toast with Gruyere Cheese. According to Bunny, the quiche was rather good, not too eggy (“That’s a Quiche contradiction!” Brandy bellowed) with a delightfully buttery crust. Brandy’s French Toast tasted of the fire, she said, adding that the general effect of the dish was that of a kissing cousin to a bowl of French Onion Soup.

This banquet was topped off with a side of golf ball like “tots” that provided ideal crunch and salty goodness to the end of the meal for the entire table.

The total came to around $25 a person after tip, so not the cheapest fare on the block, but Our Ladies both agreed Nightwood is the place to feel young and hip by enjoying the old fashioned and serene.

The Short and Sweet Review:

Nightwood on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 22, 2010

M. Henrietta or The Unknown Twin Sister

The Slow and Savory Review
We join Our Ladies this week, approaching the entrance to what surely must be the greatest secret in Chicago brunch spots. The gentry often oooo and awe over Chicago’s brunch darling, M. Henry, but a little birdie recently whispered in Bunny’s ear about our dear Henry’s little sister, M. Henrietta, located precisely next door to the Granville Red Line stop. Boasting mainly the same menu as her sibling, but with less than half of Henry’s infamous wait time for a table, Our Ladies were taken to their seats only 10 minutes after arriving, though they were told to expect 20.

Once inside, Brandy noted the atmosphere isn’t quite as intimate as the aforementioned sibling restaurant, and with Bunny’s hearing not what it once was, conversation in this noisy open space proved to be challenging for the both of them.

Bunny duly ordered one of those new fangled coffee drinks, a Mochachinno they called it, to start off with. The cup size was quite generous, but Bunny was saddened that no attempt was made to make a design in the foam. She also felt the temperature of the drink could have been a bit warmer, but otherwise its chocolaty goodness warmed her on that early fall morn.

Brandy made a pig of herself in ordering 2 dishes: the Baked Egg with Polenta and a half order of the Out of This World Bread Pudding. Meanwhile Bunny opted for the renowned Blisscakes, here served with peaches and raspberries. All three dishes came to the table rather quickly, looking spectacular (indeed both Our Ladies gasped at their beauty), in particular Brandy’s egg dish, which came served with a most delightfully colorful salad.

Bunny’s Blisscakes were particularly light and flavorful, especially the crunchy oat topping, though the filling was not quite as creamy as expected. Brandy practically devoured her bread pudding before even touching her other dish, delighting in the custardy goodness and freshness of the fruit on top. The egg proved as good as it looked, with velvety polenta and a ring of bacon lurking underneath, though the surrounding salad was a bit herbaceous for her liking.
All in all, a lovely filling brunch for under $20 a person. Our Ladies advise looking up this scintillating sister snack seller instead of holding your breath for her brother’s attention.

The Short and Sweet Review:

M. Henrietta on Urbanspoon