Friday, April 1, 2016

Postcards from Bunny: Dinner at Dive Bar and Punch Bowl Social

After a brief sojourn to Ibiza, Bunny arrived back in Chicago, surprised to find the early spring weather not only agreeable, but beautiful.  "I had expected snow and wind and ice," she exclaimed, "And I get here to find sunshine!  Well, no point in wasting the gorgeousness outside.  Time to get out on the town and have some fun!"

Feeling in a tropical mood, Bunny first stopped into Dive Bar in Lakeview to sample some seafood and cocktails.  Dive Bar was decorated in a rather endearing sort of nautical theme with distressed woods, exposed brick, and lots of little whimsical touches.

Bunny's attention was immediately attracted to the cocktail menu, which featured an array of tiki inspired concoctions.  The Summer Lei was a particular favorite with its sweet and refreshingly fruity flavor, while the Blue Marlin delighted with it's unusual glassware shaped like a shark, and the Mango Raspberry Frozen Daquari was the perfect version of a classic.

Bunny started off with some Grilled Oysters and the Boom Boom Shrimp.  The oysters had a gorgeous char on them that worked well with the pungent garlic butter sauce, which Bunny happily slurped up with the accompanying bread.  The shrimp were absolutely delightful with a sweet and tangy sauce and a slightly spicy coating.  "I finally understand why a dish like this is called 'popcorn' shrimp," she commented, "Because I could take a bucket of these with me to a movie for sure!"

The entrees at Dive Bar mainly featured variations of Po Boy Sandwiches and steamed bowls of seafood, so Bunny had to sample one of each.  First, she dove into the Lobster Roll, which came loaded with filling.  The roll was beautifully buttery and held together well under the weight of the large amount of lobster salad it contained, but Bunny did wish the meat of the lobster had been left in slightly bigger, more luscious chunks.  The Steamed Mussels, which Bunny got with the red Thai curry sauce, were absolutely beautiful with a nice rich flavor to the sauce that didn't over power the natural buttery flavor of the seafood.

Bunny rounded out the meal with a taste of each of the seasonal pies, which were Apple and French Silk in this case.  The crust on the apple pie was chewy and moist and in perfect ratio to the fruit filling.  The French Silk was extremely creamy and rich, and while absolutely delicious, was probably best shared, as just a few bites felt like the perfect end to a good meal.

Dive Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Next up on Bunny's docket was a visit to Punch Bowl Social in Schamburg.  Right away, she could tell this place was pretty special, as it was decorated in a hodgepodge of quirky Victorian hunting lodge pieces.  Crystal chandeliers hung over vinyl booths, giant board games were set in front of a whimsical fire place, and fake taxidermy antlers made from bike handles hung on the walls.

What made Punch Bowl Social truly special was that every one of the three floors was jam packed with activities.  There was retro video games and pinball machines, there was darts and skee ball, there was a small bowling alley, ping pong tables, and even private karaoke rooms.  Bunny was absolutely delighted by everything around her, so much so that she spent a good hour running from game to game before she even sat down to eat anything.

The food at Punch Bowl Social was just as thought out as the decor, with fresh twists on traditional bar fair.  There was spicy and sweet cilantro chicken wings, light and tasty chipotle turkey burgers, cheesy cauliflower nachos, and Bunny's favorite of all, a brilliant chicken and waffles with strawberries, candied nuts, and crispy fried basil.

Of course the drinks were just as smile inducing as the food and the games.  There was specialty sodas and fizzes for the non drinkers, but also new twists on classic cocktails like the Mason Mule and the Old Fashioned.  Bunny's favorite were the fresh and fruity punch bowls, like the bourbon spiked Bachelor's Bowl and the pineapple scented Lord Stanley's Cup.

Fully stuffed and exhausted from having had so much fun, Bunny once again prepared to head out of town on some other adventure.  "I probably should have told Brandy I was here," she thought while she sat at the airport, "And I probably should have invited her to come out with me.  Ah well.  That's the beauty of getting older.  I can just blame a faulty memory and a fist full of cocktails!"

Punch Bowl Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurants mentioned free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

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