Pumped

While having dinner at the too-cool-for-my-own-good Pump Room at the swanky Public Chicago hotel, I came to a realization: I’d love to be one of those travelers that just seems to hang out all day, lounging around the lobby of their plush hotel, requesting 11am wake-up calls and then worrying only about when their in-room massage is scheduled or what time dinner is.

If I was one of those travelers, which time and money constraints keep me from being, I’d check in to a place like the Public, and just bask in the awesomeness of it all. More precisely, I would eat three square meals a day at The Pump Room, and sip cocktails in between (and during) meals in the uber chic bar or the stylish lobby. (This would also all take place during winter so I wouldn’t have to leave the hotel. )

Alas, I’m not that kind of traveler. But during an awesome dinner at the Pump Room during my recent jaunt with the beau, I pretended to be, at least for the duration of dinner. The Jean-Georges restaurant seems to have borrowed lots of menu items from another JG restaurant, the always-without-fail delicious ABC Kitchen in New York, which was more than fine by me since that pretty much guaranteed the food would be amazing. And it was.

Lessons in deliciousness: coating calamari in pretzel crumbs.

The boy and I started out with an order of pretzel dusted calamari, something I’d already had (and loved) at ABC. With both a tangy, sweet marinara sauce and a creamy, spicy mustard aioli, this was just more of a good thing. Every city in the world should have a place to get this dish.

It’s always a good time for flatbread, especially if it involves truffles.

And because I don’t believe in holding back while on vacation, we also got one of Pump Room’s whole wheat flatbreads, the one with black truffle, fontina and frisee salad. It was just the right amount of doughy, cheesy and truffley (yea, I know, not a real word).

Fried chicken on a bed of spinach, wait for it, in spicy butter. Mind blown, huh?

For the entree, I went with fried organic chicken cause really, is there anything harder to resist than good fried chicken? This one came with spinach and a velvety, fiery homemade hot sauce butter. Crunchy skin, tender, juicy meat, and spinach to make you understand Popeye a million times over. Heaven on a dish, no lie, people.

Short rib and pureed potatoes. YES please.

Flaneur ordered the glazed beef short rib with potato puree and a crunchy, cheddar garnish.The spicy peppers gave a tasty heat to the hearty, delicious meat. I’m never a huge fan of short ribs, but this could make a believer out of anyone.

Dessert

And finally, because I wouldn’t dare leave a restaurant like this without dessert, we split the creme fraiche cheesecake with blood orange sorbet, fennel crisps and kumquat marmalade. With its creamy consistency and fresh, clean fruity flavors, it was a nice, subtle note to end the dinner on. I could have eaten four more though, just for the record.

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Kitchen eating

Yes, I know that organic and locally sourced are the ways to eat, and sustainability and eco-friendly are words to incorporate into my everyday lifestyle and eating habits, but I can’t help it. When I hear too many of those tree-hugging, reduce-reuse-recycle words and phrases thrown together I can’t help but think of hippies and nature freaks, granola, steamed veggies and tofu. I know, I’m awful, but I can’t help it.

But never was that less the case than at ABC Kitchen, where I recently had dinner with a friend, after she managed to make a reservation at the consistently full restaurant. Everything, from the “reclaimed wood tables” and “soy based candles” to the “consciously sourced ingredients” was exactly the opposite of what I might have been hesitant about. I can’t say I was really surprised though. ABC Kitchen, located inside the massive ABC Carpet & Home store, is a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, and really what doesn’t that guy make awesome?

Crab toast with lemon aioli

Because I was with a friend and not my allergic-to-shellfish boyfriend, I suggested we start with the crab toast from the market table section of the menu. A dark, nutty slice of toast was topped with sweet, meaty hunks of crab meat and a creamy, zesty lemon aioli. No tofu or granola in sight, just two very happy diners. Continue reading

The end of another good Week

The end of NYC Restaurant Week is bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I’ve had lots of really great food over the past two  weeks and tried lots of new dishes and new restaurants. On the other hand, all this eating out is making me feel like an absolute cow. I’ve been avoiding the scale at the gym like it’s an old boyfriend. I walk into the locker room and immediately look down, as if I make eye contact, I’ll be forced to go over and say hello. And then everything will get awkward and uncomfortable.

Spiced chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt

But of the different lunches and dinners I’ve had over the last couple of weeks, my favorite was at Spice Market, the  massive Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the Meatpacking District. With two choices for each of the four courses offered, Flaneur and I successfully managed to get everything that was on the southeast asian inspired restaurant’s RW menu.

But instead of writing about everything and making this an obscenely long post, I’ll tell you this much: the chicken samosas were delicious, and probably my favorite savory item. The slaw was good but my least favorite, and Flaneur thought it was way too spicy (although he’s a weeny about spicy food so take that for what it’s worth). The desserts were both fantastic and if they sold the ginger ice cream by the gallons, I would totally keep my fridge stocked. Everything was beautifully presented, with each plate artfully designed to be just as appealing to the eye as it was to the tongue. The colors, like the flavors, were vibrant, bright and bold. Beautiful and delicious? A meal after my own heart. Continue reading