Last month, I was in the windy city for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo. It was my best visit to Chicago for a variety of reasons. In this Grow with Nutrition blog, I want to share with you my four incredible and unforgettable Chicago food experiences I had during my trip.
Saturday Dinner – Girl and the Goat
- Without reservations (you need to make one month in advance), I decided to walk to the Girl and the Goat, with the plan to get a seat at the bar or in the lounge. The restaurant was packed, however, I was in luck – there was space in the lounge area. I shared a square communal table with a couple from Sweden and a group of women from Dallas. To start I ordered one of their signature drinks – ‘Best of Three’ made with Russian Standard Vodka, Pimms #1, cucumber and lime. I highly recommend.
- The server suggested, I order the mini size salad with roasted beets, green beans, white anchovy, avocado creme fraiche and bread crumb which had just the right amount of savoury and texture layers – it was my favourite (next to the dessert). After that was the mini size of the chickpea fritters caponata, mozzarella and tomatillo aioli. Again, very good. For the main I had to have ‘goat’ and I picked the empanadas romesco with kohlrabi-endive slaw, which didn’t disappoint. There wasn’t much room for dessert, but I had my eye on the goat cheese bavarois (a brown sugar cake, citrus blueberries, marcona caramel) since the drink order – so I had it wrapped to go. It was a dessert I will always remember.
- The servers were busy but knowledgeable and accommodating. The restaurant is a Chicago must do.
Sunday Dinner – L20
- As part of my IFT experience, I was invited by Davisco Foods International to attend a presentation by Heather Leidy, PhD – Protein Throughout the Day (Identifying the importance of leucine and increased dietary protein to promote muscle growth improve body weight management and increase appetite control) and tasting dinner at the famous L20 restaurant. The take away from the presentation was we needed to consume 30 grams of protein 3 times a day at breakfast, lunch and supper with 2 to 3 grams of leucine (a branched chain amino acid) at each meal occasion.
- Chef Matthew Kirkley’s cuisine in artful compositions was very interesting. My favourite part of the meal was the scallops with corn basil. They were so tender and delicious. Next was the wild striped bass – carmelized cauliflower, sauce americaine and finally for dessert was chocolate cremeux – lemon curd, brioche, olive oil. The people at my table were nutrition foodies. We had a great time together and were the last to leave the restaurant that evening.
- Service was perfect. If you get a chance, the restaurant is a Chicago should do.
Monday Dinner – Table 52
- Chef Art Smith changes the dinner menu often. I was with seven colleagues so we decided to share some dishes including fried green tomatoes, braised collard greens and three-cheese mac (yum). For the main I had the fried short ribs. They arrived in the perfect portion size (dietitian rationalization for ordering deep fried pork) and melted in my mouth. I can still taste it – delicious. The wine selection was very good. Our table enjoyed both great whites and reds with our meals.
- The service was fine. The restaurant is a Chicago must do.
Tuesday Breakfast – Willis Tower (Formerly the Sears Tower) the LEDGE
- I planned this breakfast a week before IFT. It was a tribute to my father who passed away at the end of June this year. The Sears tower was his favourite building in Chicago. Growing up, Ross (my brother) and I heard him talk about it during many of his business trips in the late 70s and 80s.
- My day started with a 6:45 am taxi from my hotel to the Willis tower. The windy city was still and 28°C at that early time of day. I arrived at the main lobby and waited for the Skydeck staff to escort me to the 103rd floor. Having my private pilot’s licence, I welcome these high rising experiences.
- Breakfast was served from 7 to 8:30pm. The skyline breakfast (I had to pre-order when I made the reservation) included a pastry basket, minted citrus sections, grilled sirloin steak, scrambled eggs with chive & yogurt and granola (a substitution I requested and was accommodated). I couldn’t complain about quantity, however the steak was over-done and the eggs were watery.
- My waiter Carlos was a Chicago native and a career server. He was a pro. At one point he found me teared up listening to Mungo Jerry’s song In The Summertime from the music overhead. I remember Dad grooving to that song as a wee one. Carlos shared his wisdom about family and parents and within minutes I was smiling again.
- The service was perfect. The experience is a Chicago must do, the food is a maybe do.
What is your favourite food experience in Chicago?
Let me know for my next trip to the Windy City.