Hello there! It’s been a busy few weeks. For Memorial Day weekend, I was in Chicago, and this weekend I will be in Boston for a wedding. After the Chicago trip, I baked for a baby shower, then after that I cooked Hui Guo Rou (Twice Cooked Pork) in somewhat of a hurry, and Braised Pork, for a dinner with old family friends. Too bad; the twice cooked pork turned out pretty tasty but I didn’t measure anything or even photograph anything in my haste 🙁
In my absence, please read my reviews of the delicious eats we had in Chicago:
1) Greek Islands Restaurant (Greektown):
-Sounds of “Opa!” and sights of cheese up in flames were everywhere as we walked to our table.
-We were greeted by plenty of bread that was covered in sesame seeds (my favorite!), as well as delicious extra virgin olive oil that was from Greece! The bread could have stood to be toasted a bit, but we were so hungry from our flight that I focused more on sopping it up with fruity olive oil.
I enjoyed everything we ordered (all approved by our cool waiter)
-Taramosalata (fish roe dip- delicious)
-Spartan Chicken (cooked bone-in, with lemon juice, oregano, and other spices)- I am not usually impressed with roast chicken on a restaurant menu, but I really enjoyed this one because I felt that the seasonings were carefully chosen and the cooking method was well done.
-Grilled Octopus – tender and NOT rubbery. Slightly sweetened by some balsamic vinegar, which I enjoyed more than Cindy did.
-Keftedes (Lamb and beef meatballs)
-Braised Lamb Shank
I am definitely not any sort of expert on ‘Authentic’ Greek cuisine, but I really enjoyed the food we got. The meatballs were tender and had some spices that I could not figure out..maybe allspice? They were covered in a savory and delicious tomato sauce, and accompanied by fat grains of soft rice. Our waiter was most definitely Greek, and he seemed slightly ‘gruff’ at first, but warmed up to us 🙂 (totally a fuzzy teddy bear underneath!)
The lamb was not gamey, and was seasoned well..with again, spices I couldn’t identify. But, the combination of all the spices was definitely a yes to my tastebuds!
Me: “Hi! Can you help us decide what to get? Gyro…or keftedes?”
Waiter (whose name I forget, sadly): [with no hesitation]: keftedes. You can get gyro anywhere.
Cindy: “Which octopus should I get?” (there were like…4 choices)
Waiter: “Get this one [points], not the other one”
Us: Which desserts are your favorite?
Waiter: [rattles off a list of desserts he likes]
We decide on a dessert that has lemon custard and shredded phyllo dough.
Waiter: [coming by to check on us as we dig-in to the dessert] It’s good, huh? (in a semi nonchalant manner)
By the way, if you go, make sure to get the fried cheese. That’s what all the Opa!ing was about! Even our waiter participated in that fun!
2) Pierogi Heaven
Guess who found this one!? This place is a hole-in-the-wall, I suppose? The food is served on plastic plates, and you go to the counter to order, and seat and serve yourselves. After we ordered the non-pierogi food (pierogies were on warming dishes, ready to go), we noted that the ladies in front had heavy accents, and we discussed amongst ourselves, “That must really mean the food is going to be authentic!” Then, someone pointed out that all the cashiers at Chinese-American take-out joints have heavy Chinese accents, but that doesn’t mean their food is authentically Chinese…oh.
Our fears were quelled, as we continued to eat 🙂
-Pierogies come with grilled onions, bacon, and sour cream. There were many variations of pierogies: spinach and meat, meat, potato, potato and cheese, kraut, kraut and mushroom, sweet cheese..etc etc.
Me: Okay, which fillings do we want?
Tim: ALL OF THEM!
I loved the ricotta (sweet) pierogi, as well as the spinach and meat one. The pierogies didn’t make you feel like you ate a rock of starch, and had a nice filling:skin ratio.
-Polish sausages were excellent; can’t find those in a vacuum packed bag! It was cool that they cross-hatched the top of the sausages, so that they got nice and grill-y.
-Cabbage rolls had a creamy and earthy mushroom sauce, and the cabbage still had a subtle crunch to them, which I loved.
-Borscht! Tim’s been searching for Borscht since he read Crime and Punishment. We got the bowl (more expensive), which had itty bitty carefully wrapped meat dumplings in them, which were also tasty.
The final bill was ~$34 for 4 people, and we were satisfied.
3) Lawrence Fish Market
Take-out only. A GREAT price for sashimi and sushi. We got a sashimi and sushi combo platter for $100, and 4 of us feasted on it! We even had some leftovers, which were still good after 2 days! We loved the white fish. Sashimi cuts included tuna, salmon, white fish (escolar? white tuna?), octopus, snapper, and others. I am awful at naming fishes, because my appreciation for sashimi only began 2 years ago.