Filtering by Tag: dining

Living it up in Hell's Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen was not a New York neighborhood I was too familiar with.  I'm sure I've driven through it from the Upper West Side to downtown, but I never paid too much attention to it.  Maybe because I thought it was too close to Times Square, or maybe because the name sounded scary...nevertheless, I finally got to know this little "hood" and I likey.  

I'm now partial, mainly because my new favorite hotel is in Hell's Kitchen.  Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants  has prestigious boutique hotels all over the country, including several right here in Chicago (Palomar, Allegro, etc.) but Ink 48, right in Hell's Kitchen is outstanding.  From the second I arrived to the second I departed, the service was on point.  My room was GORGEOUS and unique.  The jacuzzi tub was in the living area and the enclosed stone shower was tucked away around the corner... very cool layout.  I had a great view of the city and other room amenities included a granite vanity (perfect for doing my pre-TV makeup) and a yoga mat (perfect for a very early AM stretch before heading to VH1).  They also have one of the city's most killer rooftop bars called The Press Lounge.

The location of Ink 48 and Hell's Kitchen is great.  It was an easy walk to Times Square, where I film.  But it's also a short cab ride down town or up-town... close to subways too (I usually take subways everywhere in NYC).  There are also some great dining options.  Ink 48 has their own upscale and trendy dining spot, Print, and you're only two blocks away from the badass Gotham West Market which is the coolest "food court" I've ever seen.  It also has a quick serve version of the famous Ivan Ramen.  

Cannot WAIT to go back soon and stay with them during my next visit.  Never thought I'd say this, but hope to see you all in HELL's Kitchen ;)


MY Favorite Chicago Burgers

I’ve loved burgers for as long as I can remember.  The seeds of love and trust began to germinate when I was a little girl and my dad would take me and my two younger sisters all over Chicago to fun burger and hot dog spots; Byron's, Plush Pup, Wolfy's, etc.  Of course there were the frequent trips to McDonalds, still a fond and comforting reminder of childhood, but it was the authentic Chicago burger joints that really made an impact.

I can appreciate a fancy gourmet burger just as much as the next foodie, but it’s the tried and true, old fashioned, greasy spoon burgers that are near and dear to my heart.  You also can’t go wrong with a classic Steakhouse burger.  My list below is compiled of many of MY Chicago favorites.  I really tried to stay away from the main stream “favorites” that everyone always talks about. Of course we all love Kuma’s Corner, Au Cheval, etc., but I wanted to bring some new flavor to the table… pun intended.  Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

The Lockdown Bar and Grill- Let’s just say I have a deep Burning Love for this next burger.  The Fat Elvis Burger is all kinds of crazy. First off, for those of you who haven’t graced the space that is the Lockdown, be afraid…be very afraid… in a good way.  DO NOT go on a day you have a migraine; as the incessant blast of heavy/death metal is on a decibel level not known to the common restaurant.  But don’t let the hardcore, blood-curdling tunes and the prison-like atmosphere deter you.  For the Fat Elvis Burger really makes this Jailhouse rock.  If you like dessert for dinner, then pull up a chair, you're gonna be quite happy.  They begin with Grand Marnier sautéed bananas and thick cut smokey bacon and pile it on a juicy black Angus patty that happens to be smothered in PEANUT BUTTER.  The decadence is off the charts.  Even though I ate this when I was already stuffed from about 5 other burgers… I couldn’t stop eating it.  The juxtaposition of the sweet with the salty and the savory was sublime.  Worth EVERY screaming calorie.   1024 N. Western Ave. West Town


West Town Bakery-  A bakery?? Somewhat unlikely for one of my favorite burgers.  Yet this fluffy piece of paradise deserves a top spot on the list.  The West Coast double burger with American cheese and special sauce is curiously reminiscent of my favorite NON-Chicago burger, In N Out Burger.  Pretty much everyone on Earth agrees that it doesn’t get any better than In N Out, so here’s a way to get a souped up version of it right here in Chi Town.  It’s melty deliciousness is off the charts, and it’s soft bakery bun gives it a polished finish many “greasy spoon” burgers lack.  The quality and freshness were incredible. A must try.   1916 W. Chicago Ave. West Town

Dusek’s-  Ahhh the Juicy Lucy.  Even though Pilsen is a bit of a hike, going to Dusek’s for all of their food, but especially their burger, is worth every step of the journey.  Yes, the Juicy Lucy is considered a “Gourmet” burger… but that’s ok.  Any burger that is made of Slagel Farm beef automatically scores major points.  This burger is no exception.  The preparation is  unique yet with a recognizable flavor profile.  The thick “local and sustainable” patty is served with a red onion and bacon marmalade that explodes with flavor.  That, along with an heirloom tomato slice and butter lettuce make this burger deliciously well balanced.  It should also be noted the Juicy Lucy is served with Duck Fat Fries.  Yup… these fries are no joke.  Bacon marmalade and duck fat fries on the same plate? Yes Please!!! 1227 W. 18th St. Pilsen

Centro Ristorante-  I can’t remember a time I’ve EVER had a subpar meal at any of the Rosebud Restaurants.  They’re not only known for their exceptional food, but also their consistency.  Centro is their most recent opening, yet it is a revival of one of their very first Rosebud locations, Centro on Wells. But man, this River North spot knows how to do a a Steakhouse burger.  Their Rosebud Burger on a Butter Bun is perfection.  Don’t you dare get it cooked more than medium rare, as this thick juicy patty doesn’t deserve to be dried out.  The butter bun is soft and scrumptious and it needs no more accoutrements than the simple combo of lettuce, tomato, and ketchup.  One of the best steakhouse burgers I’ve ever had.  6 W. Hubbard St. River North

Chop Shop- This is one of my favorite NEW spots in EVERY aspect.  It’s a kick-ass restaurant, it’s an Italian butcher shop, and also an entertainment/live music venue.  It’s everything I love in one spot! But their burger is wonderful and is already scoring them a ton of buzz.  Once again, simplicity and classicism win over pomp and flash.  Their Butcher Burger is comprised of Slagel Farm beef (yay!!), aged cheddar, and smokey bacon.  Cooked perfectly, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly delicious.  This place will be my second home for sure.  Oh, did I mention their incredible cocktail and craft beer menu??? Yea, definitely will be my second home.   2033 W. North Ave. Wicker Park

Odge’s- From the outside, Odge’s looks like a local graffiti artist had a field day.  Inside… well it’s your typical old school Chicago hot dog/burger stand.  The warm cozy nostalgia takes a back seat to the delicious burger.  Double patty, oozy melted American cheese, grilled onions, ketchup, mustard, on a sesame seed bun.  It was perfect and whisked me back to childhood and everything that is great about regional Chicago casual cuisine.  If you want a solid and traditional burger… no frills, but cooked perfectly… check out Odge’s.  730 N. Damen Ave. Ukranian Village

Portillo’s-  As I said this list is in no particular order.  That being said, the Portillo’s cheeseburger is the one I eat most often, and may have to be my all time favorite numero uno.  I’ve really never found another burger that can stand up to, or top this charbroiled masterpiece.  It’s simple, and it’s perfect in every way.  Lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melty American cheese.  Needs NOTHING else…except maybe the occasional bacon upgrade.  Hats off to you, Portillo’s.  You’ve been curing my hangovers and making me happy for many years past, and I'm sure for many years in the future.  100 W. Ontario St. River North

Dillman’s- Au Cheval has gotten more press for their burger than probably any other food item in  Chicago over the last year.  Yes, the Au Cheval burger is glorious in every way… and wow…that egg.  However, I wanted to give props to another Hogsalt Restaurant Group creation… the Dillman’s burger.  Dillman’s is what you get when you cross a Jewish Deli with Bavette’s.  A dark intimate room that serves one hell of a matzah ball soup…and burger.  Imagine an actual quality version of a Big Mac on steroids.  The towering double patty with “sharp” American cheese with dill pickle and dijonnaise is reminiscent of American’s iconic “I’m lovin it” burger.  Only better, wayyyy better.  It’s delicious and needs its own place in the spot light… apart from it’s famous Au Cheval sibling.  354 W. Hubbard St. River North

Edzo’s- Let’s just say when I met the manager, Thom, at Edzo’s he informed me that he’s eaten at least one burger a day for the last 27 years.  I kid you not.  So it says a great deal that he chose to manage the acclaimed Edzo’s in Lincoln Park.  Now he can satisfy his burger obsession easily, often, and with an amazing product.  Edzo’s does the traditional, old-school burger right.  Fresh, never frozen, tasty thin patty with the traditional toppings, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion.  The also offer a “Slagel Farm Upgrade” which made me so beyond happy.  It’s not everyday that a fast food burger joint will offer the highest quality, local, sustainable, and “animal friendly” meat. So, I of course, tried the “Spicy Sconnie” burger with the Slagel Farm beef.  It’s made with “ketchipotle sauce”, jalepeno infused Merkt’s cheddar, and grilled onions.  It was spicy, sweet, tangy, and unreal.  Loved every bite.  If I were Thom, I could definitely see eating one of these creations on a daily basis.   2218 N. Lincoln Ave. Lincoln Park

The Wiener’s Circle- Chances are, if you’ve ever been to The Wiener’s Circle, you were likely blackout drunk at 3:30 am.  You also probably remember the screaming insult match you got into with the staff instead of the meal you ordered.  So please allow me to refresh your memory.  I’ve been going to this crazy joint for about 15 years now.  And shockingly, I’ve been there in the broad afternoon daylight…as well as in the dark and ominous twilight hours.  Their charbroiled cheeseburger is out of this world.  I do NOT want to know how it’s made, who is making it, or what the sanitation process is, I put the blinders on for this one .  It’s magic on a bun.  The char flavor with that Merkt’s like sharp cheddar sauce that resembles a neon orange greasy form of crack is sinful.  Literally, i’m sure.  I implore you to try it in the light of day… not only will you remember it, but the staff will go a bit easier on you too.  Tip: Do NOT order the “Chocolate Milkshake”.   2622 N. Clark St. Lincoln Park

Dia De Los Muertos...Rick Bayless Style (2013)

I could barely contain my excitement when I received my invite to the Dia De Muertos event hosted by Negra Modelo.  First of all... everyone who knows me knows I'm OBSESSED with Mexican food.  It's my one consistent craving... a craving which I indulge far too often.  Second, Modelo, and Negra Modelo, in particular, are two of my favorite beers.  NOTHING is better than a delicious authentic taco and a crisp Mexican beer to wash it down.  I've even consumed this combo all over the US, all over Mexico, and even in the Domincan Republic.  Yet this perfect pairing of tacos and tamales with the complex Negra Modelo was made even sweeter because it was direct from super celebrity chef, Rick Bayless. Chef Bayless has become famous for his revered Chicago restaurants, Frontera GrillTopolobambo, and Xoco. He's even surpassed the "restauraneur" title and expanded his brand to include cook books, TV Shows, and his Frontera Foods line of salsas, and sauces.  The event was held at Kendall College and the entire event space was transformed into a gorgeous fall landscape with the mystical Mexican holiday, Dia De Los Muertos, taking center stage. Beautifully painted sugar skulls were everywhere and you actually felt as if you were experiencing this time honored tradition as it was meant to be.

Chef Bayless gave a very involved cooking demonstration that was filled not only with useful tip and recipes, but with stories and occurrences that were near and dear to his heart.  He gave us first hand information as to how Dia De Muertos is experienced and carried out among his friends all over small towns in Mexico.  What we learned was not cookie cutter manufactured info from a Mexican chain restaurant, but the intimate details of a deep and meaningful cultural tradition explained to us through Chicago's best Mexican culture and food liaison.

First he taught us how to "build" a basic salsa and guacamole.  He explained that once we knew the basics, that it's easy and fun to add on and improvise.  For his perfect salsa he started by roasting tomatillos and garlic under a broiler.   Mash it up together in a Molcajete, add chopped WHITE onion (Mexico doesn't even grow yellow onions!), cilantro, and chopped chilies, and salt.  So simple yet complex and delicious.  The guacamole is prepared in a similar way.  He mashes the avocados with a potato masher (he feels it should be called an "avocado masher"), seasons with salt and a HINT of lime, and adds jalepenos, white onion, and cilantro.  Then to spice it up even more and expand upon the classic recipe, he added Tomazula hot sauce (his go-to), crumbled queso cotija, and a ton of chopped chicharron!!!  It was an incredible demo because not only did we learn the basics of these integral mexican dishes, but we learned that even to put the unique Rick Bayless spin on it, isn't as complicated as we might have thought.  He gave very detailed instructions on where to locally purchase every common or distinctive item he used- for instance getting the Chicharron at Carnitas Don Pedro in Pilsen.

We were then invited to partake in the gorgeous buffet spread which showcased some of Rick's favorite authentic Mexican dishes.  My favorite, by far, was the corn tamale.  He described it in detail and said that the crema (fresh sour cream) he used was from a local farm that produced the most fresh and delicious cream he had EVER tasted.  He knew right away it would be the perfect compliment to his tamales.  I had to concur.  The entire dish was perfectly balanced with the fresh sweet corn as well as the tasty masa, the tang of the fresh crema, with the saltiness and spice of the queso cotija and the salsa roja.  I was going to go back for "seconds" (and probably "thirds) but the line was insanely long... clearly the word spread fast as to how incredible they were.

Actually meeting Chef Bayless is definitely a rite of passage for any Chicago foodie.  During our chat he was friendly yet soft spoken and he loved talking about Mexico, of course.  I mentioned to him how we have something in common as both of our shows (His- Mexico- One Plate and a Time, and Mine- Food Junkie: Chicago) are filmed and directed by the same director and crew! He seemed excited to discover this common thread and we discussed how amazing our crew is and how much we love working with them.  I just feel honored to have a strong link to this renowned chef and Chicago's very own super-star of Mexican cuisine.

Overall, the event was a blast and a huge success.  Let me tell ya, Negra Modelo really knows how to throw a party! And being able to drink the fine Mexican beer while eating some of the world's best Mexican food, WHILE hanging with Chef Rick Bayless really made it a night to remember... or should I say, Dia De Muertos to remember?! Buen Provecho todos!!!

*Compensation was provided by Crown Imports via Legacy Marketing Partners. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Crown Imports

Neta NYC: Divinity in Dining (2013)

I know I can be quite enthusiastic about my dining experiences and I tend to ooze a multitude of superlatives, yet sometimes; gushing is appropriate. Sometimes even the loudest of applause doesn't properly commend an experience. Dining at Neta in NYC is one of these occasions. I implore you not to dub me "the boy who cried wolf" , but Neta was truly my favorite dining experience...EVER.

I should have known I was in for a culinary adventure when Nick Kokonas (owner: Alinea, The Aviary, Next), explicitly advised me, "If you're going to New York, go to Neta. Get the Omakase. Period. Do not ask questions." Yessir!!! .... and I didn't ask questions. When Nick gives restaurant advice... you take it.

My best friend of 22 years, Jamie, was my partner in crime and (over)indulgence this evening. Even though she is a long time NYC resident... she knows that when I am in town, I will schlep her to about 5 dining establishments each day... usually ending with pizza at 3am. She has just recently learned to go with my flow, and especially after Neta, she'll continue to.

Neta is located in the West Village and was so inconspicuous that Jamie and I walked up and down 8th street about 6 times because we failed to notice the 12pt Times New Roman font sign on one small window. Finally, once we walked in, the minimalist decor was surprisingly inviting. We were thankfully seated at the bar as we couldn't bear to not watch the master sushi craftsmen at work.

After ordering our Omakase (chef's choice, multi-course, prix fixe menu) and a bottle of dry unfiltered sake, Jamie and I became mesmerized by the energy in the kitchen. We have never seen anything like it. It was a hurried harmony... no one spoke, or rushed or moved out of place. It was like a choreographed dance of the white aprons. The service mirrored this dance. I have only seen service this impeccable and attentive at the finest of fine dining establishments. Yet this wasn't stuffy! The staff was so cool and laid back. Our Japanese server, Hiro, was hilarious and sarcastic. When he'd make us laugh and we'd tell him how funny he was he just said, "I'm not funny, I'm Japanese." Hmmmm....

Oh! There was food too! First course, Kani (crab) and cucumber with a smokey ginger vinaigrette, The fresh lump crab was so sweet and fresh and the smooth smokey finish was a perfect compliment. Great way to prepare our palette. Second course, Cobia crudo with daikon radish and a ginger bonita sauce. The Cobia literally melted in my mouth. The third course was my favorite: Scallops, uni (sea urchin) maitaki mushrooms with fresh lime. It was so buttery and rich, smooth and complex... but the acid of the lime cut through it all and balanced it perfectly. We ate this course while the sounds of Notorious B.I.G. "Juicy" boomed in the background.... how appropriate.

Have you ever had fresh corn and truffle formed in a ball and tempura-ed?? Yea, me either.... but Neta thought this was the perfect accompaniment to the Fugu (blowfish) tempura. Damn, they were spot on. I can't help but recollect a Simpson's episode where Homer eats poisonous Fugu and was informed of his imminent demise. Fortunately, Jamie and I survived our run-in with the notorious fish. Deliciously survived. Mmmmmm Fugu.

The piece de resistance was the best shot of tequila i've had to date. The stereotypical looking mixologist came from behind the sushi bar, where he was strategically stationed, and over to our seats. He had a little platter with 2 sake glasses filled with yuzu and ginger granita and a glass filled with smoked salt. He poured the Tequila Ocho over the savory slushy and added the salt with a squeeze of fresh lime. It was like a tequila slurpee, and it was refreshingly perfect. What made it even more perfect, was that these shots (2 rounds of them) were guzzled to "Satisfy My Soul" by Bob Marley. Neta really had the tunes down. It's as if they knew I was comin' in and they made a playlist just for me. It got a bit silly after multiple shots and a huge bottle of sake, as Jamie and I were dancing in our seats and singing (and rapping) along to the music. Sorry not sorry, Neta.

The sushi platter was a rainbow of variety and flavors and textures. It was it's simplicity that was the most impressive. Every bite was savored, and enjoyed.

Drink for drink, and fish for fish, not only was this the best and most thorough sushi experience I've had, but because of the service, music, decor, and creativity, it was the best overall meal i've had. I cannot WAIT to go back...fortunately, NYC, beckons to me about 3 times each year... in the mean time i'll get a bottle of Tequila Ocho to keep me company :)

Oyster Fest And Lee Brice (2012)

When you think of Oysters, do you also think of Country Music?  No? Well in Chicago, we do.  They go hand in hand just like Shaw’s Crab House and Joe’s Bar go hand in hand.  Last week, these two institutions joined forces to put on one hell of an event in River North.  A massive parking lot was transformed and packed full of 4,000 attendees who were visibly hungry for two things… delicious oysters and live country music. Lettuce Entertain You supplied all types of delectable goodies, but their oysters stole the show.  Actually, the oysters shared the spotlight with County Music star Lee Brice.  I’ve met Lee before and we have a ton of mutual friends, so it was a good ol’ time catching up with him on his tour bus before he took the stage. We got to chat about his recent #1 hit and his coveted CMA Award nomination for Best New Artist.  You can catch the entire interview by clicking here.

The crowd seemed to forget how cold this October night was once Lee commanded the stage.  His bold performance, powerful melodies, and poignant yet fun lyrics captivated the audience.  He rocked through his biggest hits:  Hard To Love, A Woman Like You, Love Like Crazy, as well as the fun-time anthem, Beer.   He also surprised me by performing "Crazy Girl."  This was a recent #1 hit by Eli Young Band and one of my favorite songs because of its haunting beauty… I had no idea that it was Lee who penned it... almost a decade ago for an ex-girlfriend.  The outdoor festivities were immensely successful… but we all know the fun couldn't stop there.  The die-hard music fans retreated back to Joe’s for the after party.  Tyler Farr performed to an exuberant crowd and Lee sneaked back on stage for an impromptu performance of MY REQUEST: More Than A Memory!!  Another painfully gorgeous remnant of his songwriting days… which happened to be a #1 hit for an obscure and up-and-coming artist, Garth Brooks. :-)  It's always a pleasure when Lee or any of his buddies (Jerrod Niemann, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Jake Owen) visit Joe's.  They're a blast, yet so down-to-earth and easy going.  Can't wait to see when some of the other guys will be coming back... StayTuned!!

Il Mio Viaggio Di Burrata (My Burrata Tour) (2012)

Ciao Tutti! If you're asking, "What's burrata?" It means one of two things:  Either you're not Italian, or you haven't been out to a notable restaurant in the last year or so.  Burrata (or "buttered" in Italian)  has long been known to my fellow countrymen as a delicious delicacy that can be enjoyed any time of a main course, or as an antipasto.  Fortunately, it has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and is springing up on more menus everyday.  For those of you who don't know exactly what it is, here's a little lesson:  Originating from the Puglia region in Southern Italy, it's a fresh cow's milk (and sometimes buffalo's milk) cheese, and is made in a similar way to fresh mozzarella.  It actually consists of an outer shell of fresh mozzarella and a filling of stracciatella and cream.  Stracciatella is basically the leftover shreds of the cheese curds mixed with a heavy cream.  The fresh mozzarella is formed into a pouch and then filled with the stracciatella mixture and then tied off.  It is HIGHLY perishable and must be eaten within 1-3 days after it's made.  There are some reputable burrata producers in the U.S., however, the best stuff still comes from Puglia, and luckily, its import is becoming more common.

I decided to shoulder a huge burden and go out there and find the best burrata in that my trusty readers wouldn't have to take this miserable task upon themselves.  See how selfless I am??  My arduous and backbreaking journey of burrata eating carried me to 5 different venues...shockingly not all of them were in River North :-).  The first three on my list have outstanding burrata are STRONGLY recommended.  (It's important to note that I've tried burrata at several other venues as well, but these were the most unique and memorable...for various reasons.)

Prosecco, a beautiful and upscale River North Italian spot, really knows how to showcase their burrata.  My sister, Kimberly, and I went in strictly to try the burrata appetizer and had no idea we would end up having such a fulfilling experience.  Upon sitting, they offer their patrons a complimentary glass of Prosecco (how appropriate) and a delicious spread of Sicilian caponata...a great intro.  I mentioned to the manager and server that I was going to be writing about their burrata and how I was really looking forward to it...they told me they actually  feature TWO daily burratas.  I said "Bring 'em on!" and "Kimmy, you better eat for once...don't you dare leave me with two huge piles of cheese."  She happily obliged when she saw what was presented to us.  One burrata had a bit of a Caprese vibe, with basil and a balsamic/olive oil drizzle, yet featured sun-dried tomatoes and prociutto...delicious.  The second variation, their "special", was brilliance on a plate.  The marriage of grilled peaches with pistachios and a honey-balsamic glaze was sublime.  Even Chef Mark Sparacino came to greet us and explain how they import their burrata directly from Puglia twice weekly so it really is the best of the best.  He also noted that their daily special is always made with the freshest fruit of the season and designed to compliment the daily dinner and wine specials.

Many of you know I really can't shut up about RPM Italian, and their burrata is one of the main reasons why. A traditional preparation for burrata, especially as an app, will usually have some greens (likely arugula), some sort of sweet component on toasty grilled bread.  RPM stays true to tradition and serves their incredibly high quality burrata with fresh arugula, a delicious sweet and tangy tomato jam on crusty crostini all topped with a nutty and fragrant olive oil.  It's really a show stopper and how I always start my meals at RPM.

My third restaurant (although I would rate the burrata as "tied" with RPM)  is a bit unexpected as it's NOT an Italian restaurant.  Tavernita does, however, like to incorporate several different Mediterranean influences into it's cuisine... and bringing in the burrata was an excellent choice.  Even though Chef Ryan Poli traveled around and lived in Spain for 2 years, burrata was not something he typically ate while there.  He came up with his "Pan con Burrata" on his own, as he felt burrata was the most luxurious cheese available that would compliment the toasty crostini with the complex sweetness of the tomato marmalade.  A drizzle of Spanish olive oil finishes off this small bite of perfection.  I also love how the dish is already assembled for you...with the perfect ratio of ingredients, as most restaurants require you to mix/build everything yourself.

Gilt Bar was another non-Italian restaurant to have burrata as an appetizer.   The burrata they feature threw me off a bit because it is very non-traditional, yet it intrigued me.  It is served on a colorful bed of smashed peas and mint along with pickled green onions.  The presentation was gorgeous yet I felt the flavor was lacking.  There was a minty sweetness from the peas and the burrata was fresh with great flavor, but it lacked a kick from an acid (such as vinegar or fruit) that should usually accompany the dish.  An interesting concept that didn't fully deliver.

Last on my list is the "Burrata and Sea Urchin" from Nelcotte.  Nelcotte has an eclectic "small plates" menu that gets it right on so many levels (like their milled in-house pizza).  That ain't the case with the burrata.  In order to be fair, I actually went back TWICE to try this case my palette was a bit "off" the first time.  Turns out my palette was just fine... the mixture of the salty/fishy sea urchin with the creamy cheese flavor of the burrata did not work.  In fact it scared me.  Sea urchin is not too big on my list of favorite delicacies to begin with, and to mix it with an Italian cheese like burrata was highly unorthodox.  The burrata itself was a sparse portion which featured more of the "mozzarella shell" and less of the creamy interior mixture.  I can understand and appreciate how they were trying to accomplish a bold flavor profile, but somethings are just not meant to go together.  This is a classic example of why seafood and cheese should usually be kept separate.

If you only have one night out and are just dying to try the best burrata in Chicago, go to Prosecco.  Not only do they have the freshest and  tastiest preparation, but they have a version that changes daily, so you're always in for a pleasant surprise.  If you can actually get a table at RPM Italian or Tavernita, then you must try their burrata as well...some of my favorite dishes in town.  Regardless, whether you're a big fan of this Italian delicacy or a newbie, hopefully you'll get out there and order it for you next meal!  Buon' appetito!!