Retirement is Exhausting – Part Two

Retirement in our house means constant activity – diving head first into all the fun things that cross our path.

Last week, I told you about our adventures with Buddy and Bruce.

This time it’s all about food.

First Bites Bash 2016

First Bites Bash kicked off Restaurant Week in Chicago.

The Union Station Grand Concourse was transformed into a beautiful party setting with over 60 food tasting stations and a couple of dozen more spots serving beer, wine and spirits.

The food was the star of the show at this event.

This will come as a shock to many of you, but I’m not even going to talk about the wine.

First Bites 2016 Union Station

The 60+ stations featured restaurants from across Chicagoland, each serving a bite representing their culinary genre.

Most of what we tasted was amazing but a few bites really stood out.

In no particular order, here are the restaurants whose food we liked the best.

These are places you should put on your list when visiting the greatest food city in the country, Chicago.

May Street Steakhouse

May Street Steakhouse First Bites 2016

Cinnamon, chipotle and coconut Allen Brothers beef tenderloin fajitas

An unexpectedly delicious combination of flavors, each complementing the other without any one taking center stage.

May Street Steakhouse, 1146 West Cermak Road, Chicago.


Vermillion First Bites 2016

Quinoa chickpea Venezuelan arepa, mango slaw and a duo of mango-chipotle mole & chimichurri mint chutney

A brilliant depiction of this great restaurant’s Indian-Latin flair.

Vermillion, 10 West Hubbard Street, Chicago.

Bar Siena

Bar Siena First Bites 2016

Sweet corn ravioli, chiodini mushrooms, truffle butter

I’m a sucker for any dish that features sweet corn. This dish was both light and hearty. How is that possible?!

My darling goddaughter commented on my Instagram post that she had enjoyed this dish at the restaurant and gave it her double thumbs up endorsement.

Bar Siena, 832 West Randolph Street, Chicago.


Remington's First Bites Bash 2016

Lobster Deviled Egg

Lobster. Deviled. Egg.

Enough said.

Remington’s, 20 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

Gibson's First Bites Bash 2016

USDA Gibson’s Prime Angus Beef Tartare

This one is for you, Katie Clooney.

I’m not generally drawn to tartare but this bite just looked so inviting. Bright, flavorful and served at the perfect temperature, Gibson’s beef tartare was a definite hit.

Gibson’s prides itself on being the only restaurant group with its own USDA certification.

“Our beef is breed specific, Black Angus, and raised on sustainable farms in the Upper Midwest. Our beef is corn fed for 120 days and aged for 40 days, providing maximum flavor and tenderness.” – via Gibson’s website

Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse, 1028 North Rush Street, Chicago (plus several suburban locations).

South Branch

South Branch First Bites Bash 2016

PB&J – smoked pork belly, date jam, crumbled goat cheese, candied walnuts and micro celery

This dish was probably the winner for me. So whimsical and so very delicious. Truly tasted like PB&J – the best PB&J you’ve ever had.

South Branch, 100 South Wacker Drive, Chicago.

Bar Pastoral

Bar Pastoral is a fabulous little restaurant that happens to be in my sister-in-law, Kate’s neighborhood. In fact, just a few days before the First Bites Bash, Peter, Kate and I had dinner at Bar Pastoral.

Peter enjoyed the lamb meatballs with butternut squash tomato sauce and Zingerman’s cream cheese. That very same dish was served at Bar Pastoral’s station at First Bites Bash.

Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of this beautiful and yummy dish.

Bar Pastoral has a great wine list and offers an amazing selection of cheeses (there’s a cheese shop attached to the restaurant!).

Bar Pastorale Cheese Plate

We enjoyed this cheese plate at the restaurant. Each cheese was brilliantly paired with a jam or spread.

When you order the cheese plate at Bar Pastoral, my advice is to rely on the staff’s recommendations. The selection is vast. These folks know how to put together the perfect combination of flavors and textures.

The menu at Bar Pastoral offers a variety of dishes from mac and cheese to hanger steak and from charcuterie to salmon.

The perfect neighborhood bistro.

Bar Pastoral, 2947 North Broadway Street, Chicago.

These are just a few of the remarkable restaurants in our great city. For a complete list of the First Bites Bash participants check out Choose Chicago.

No one paid me to say this.

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