Category Archives: Food

Perennial Virant (Chicago)

Perennial Virant (the other restaurant of Vie’s Paul Virant) is a new American restaurant located across the street from Chicago’s Lincoln Park at the base of the Hotel Lincoln.

Virant’s distinctives at Vie are replicated in this Lincoln Park area restaurant. It prides itself in being a farm-to-table type restaurant, meaning that you get the freshest ingredients every time . He and his team makes use of pickles, jams, or preserves appear in most dishes. This gives each dish a distinctive taste, all depending on what the pickling/preserving process was like. The meals have been described elsewhere as being “unfussy” and “straightforward” or even “simple.” To some these latter descriptions would downgrade their opinion of the restaurant, but this shouldn’t be the case. By keeping things simple Virant lets the flavors of each ingredient really pop. Though the dishes are simple they are still quite interesting and original.

The service was great – though the host seemed a bit baffled when we walked through the hotel side of the entrance and also when we said we didn’t have a reservation. They sat us pretty quickly, even though it was a Friday night. Our waiter was excellent, he was very knowledgeable and explained the menu and the dishes we chose in a detailed manner.

My wife and I ordered:

Pan Seared Arctic Char: grape aigre-doux, fermented carrots, beet puree, marinated golden beats, champagne vanilla vinnegrette.

Grilled Pork Porterhouse: mashed carrot, apricot jam, turnips, cilantro, grilled pickled jalapenos, pork jus.

You can really pick out the flavors of each ingredient (except for the jalapenos, I couldn’t taste those.)

We also ordered several cocktails – one tequila based cocktail which tasted very much like apple pie. And another called a “surly bear” which was reminiscent of an old fashioned.

Overall the experience was fantastic. The ambiance was casual but trendy. The service was friendly and the food was of top-notch quality.

Price per dish: $25-35

 Rating: 9/10

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H2O Sushi & Izakaya

Last week I walked into a new sushi bar & Izakaya spot (Izakaya is a type of communal drinking establishment similar to a pub) for lunch.  As you walk into this spot the first thing you note is the customer service. For a mall spot (its in the trendier north end of the Northridge mall) the service was great. Maybe this was because the spot was new…. Either way the host was super friendly and we got the traditional greeting from the chefs. The next thing you notice is the decor – its definitely trying hard to be a trendy-lounge type spot; which makes scene since it is an Izakaya spot. However lets get down to what you really want to know about – the quality of the sushi.

Another H2O Shushi and Izakaya Restaurant – however the decor is very similar.

I have eaten some good sushi throughout my life. I have paid top dollar for it and I have also gone to Shoguns in Northridge. All that to say I have run the gamut when it comes to sushi. This place falls somewhere in between. The price is definitely on the lower end of things. Not quite Shogun prices but not Go’s Mart prices either. However you are definitely getting good quality sushi for the price – actually I would say excellent quality sushi for the price.

Here is what I got:

  • Mackerel – (ordered Spanish mackerel but they were out…). It was a bit to lemony and had a strange consistency.
  • Yellowtail Toro – wow! High quality fish, melted in my mouth.
  • Spicy Albacore Roll – usually most places serve spicy tuna (which is tuna mush) but this place had spicy albacore. It was one of my favorite rolls we tried. And it was only $4
  • Miso soup – watered down, it seems like they used a powder instead of a paste to make this.
  • Ginger – fresh, and I mean fresh!
  • Wasabi – none of that fake stuff. You could tell it was made from the root. Super high quality!

Overall – I liked the service and decor. The sushi was really good. And I can’t wait to try their happy hour. Only downside is that they don’t have an alcohol license yet, so you can’t get sake with your sushi. (And what kind of Izakaya spot doesn’t have drinks!)

I’m Going Paleo! (At Least For This Review)

All my friends are eating paleo nowadays – well many of them are. Some of them are on Paleo because they are doing intense workouts – Paleo is protein heavy – others are doing it for health reasons – it’s a very clean diet for those who have gastro-intestinal issues – yet others are just jumping on the bandwagon because its fashionable. I don’t fit under any of those categories – I just want to be able to cook a variety of types of cuisines, and since I have friends who have a strictly regimented diet I want to be able to make something they can eat.

In The Paleo chef – Pete Evans – gives us a fantastic cook book full of gluten free, grain free, and dairy free meals that are Paleo as well. Paleo cuts out processed sugary foods and replaces them with proteins, fats, fresh veggies and fruits, and nuts and seeds. You would think that this limits your possibilities for making great meals. But it doesn’t!

Tell me for a second how these breakfast options sound:

  1. Hazelnut & Banana Pancakes
  2. Stir-fried Beef with Basil, Chile & Fried Eggs,
  3. Shrimp Omelet with Dashi Broth & Asian Greens

Now how about these meals:

  1. Japanese Crispy Chicken w/ Miso Mayonnaise
  2. Jerk Chicken w/ Papaya-Mango Sauce
  3. Portuguese Pork Burgers w/ Piri Piri Sauce

Or these desserts:

  1. Chocolate-Avocado Mousse
  2. Pomegranate & Coconut Popsicles
  3. Watermelon Cakes w/ Coconut Cream & Rose Water Poached Figs

And there is a whole collection of drinks too!

Its so good!

What I loved about the book was that all of the meals were “sophisticated” but also real. They all look like you put in a ton of effort but they are a cinch to prepare. Over the last few weeks I have been preparing meals out of this book and they have all been hits! They ingredients are quite simple, the directions are easy to follow, and the pictures are exquisite. I love this cookbook!

(This is the first post in my new category: “Food.” You will begin to see reviews of cook books and restaurants. I’m a big Yelper – so I thought I would combine these two worlds. And I also love food so much!)

Note: I received this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.