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Chicago Magazine Presents Chicago’s Table 2014


As I mentioned in my Monday post, I was the lucky winner of an incredible foodie opportunity: tickets to Chicago Magazine’s Chicago’s Table 2014 benefiting the Shedd Aquarium.

shedd otter

INCLUDING THIS LITTLE PRINCESS. This is an orphaned baby otter that the Shedd just took in. I DIE

Described as “Chicago’s Premium Dining Experience,” Chicago’s Table brought 16 of the city’s best restaurants of all genres under one roof to serve up signature and experimental dishes. Bite-sized samples from many of the restaurants I have dreamed of going to but haven’t due to pricing, schedule, and diet (remember—I can have a bite or so of pretty much anything, but I’m not going to order an entire entrée to have a single bite!)? I AM IN FOODIE HEAVEN. And the fact that last moment I got to invite a plus one, and Sara could go? Basically, there was no way this night could go awry unless it something disastrous occurred.

But let’s talk about food, shall we?


Thank you, Jenn!

I got there before Sara (even before we were really supposed to get there, actually), and restaurants and the bar were already in full swing, so I decided to live dangerously and get a cocktail.

chitable14  bulleit blt 2

Bulleit “BLT” Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Lime, Tonic, on ice with Lemon

I have been digging whiskeys and ryes of late, so I got a Bulleit “BLT” (Bulleit Rye, Lime, Tonic). Nice and refreshing, almost like a ginger ale!

chitable14 don julio 1942

Don Julio 1942 Anejo Tequila

I looked up and saw that they had a Don Julio station, so I HAD to go over there. You know I love my tequila, especially DJ Reposado. Unfortunately, the Blanco and Reposado’s were pre-mixed in specialty drinks, and I was all sad and down trodden…..until they pointed to the table next to me and it was tastings of Don Julio 1942, a top shelf Anejo that I have heard wonders about but never gotten to try. Oh. My. Tequila.

If you have never had a real, drinking tequila (I should do a tequila primer, no?), I suggest you start with Don Julio Reposado (to sip, with dinner). If you know that you like tequila, and you also like bourbon, I suggest that you finish your meal with anejo (longer aging). If you like a slightly less spicy and more smooth, round anejo, you NEED to try 1942.  One of the best liquors I have tried.

chitable14 over

City Winery Red (Pinot Noir) and White (blend)

When Sara arrived (not gonna lie, I got 3 bites before she even got there! HEY I WAS HUNGRY), we decided to go the wine route, and so we headed over and got a glass of the red (pinot noir) and a glass of the white (chardonnay blend with  other grapes I wasn’t so familiar with) from the City Winery “tap.”

PS, I saw this on Kitchen Cousins once–and thought it was dumb–but now I totally want a wine barrel “tap.” In my mind, at least.

I thought the Pinot was solid, but not amazing. Very drinkable and a real crowd pleaser that I could drink with confidence in it not overpowering what I would be eating (also, there was a lot of steak on the menu, so I felt it would be ok). Neither Sara nor I were overwhelmingly impressed with the white—it was fresh and crisp, but not the best choice for what we were to be eating. I don’t fault City Winery for this—how could they have known?

Peet’s Coffee and Tea Decaf (Had this with the Beatrix pie)

**Special note–each dish had a suggest pairing or a specialty drink for it. I had one that I thought was terrible, so I just kind of did my own thing, haha.

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Now, for the food. Because I am already getting super long winded, I am going to give you the menu and then my top 5 bites of the night. But if you want the full lowdown of the other 11, be sure to head over to my Chicago Signature Blog tomorrow!

Actually another one of my favorites

Actually another one of my favorites

A10 Corned beef tongue, apple kraut, pumpernickel profiterole, horseradish cream

Baffo Octopus with borlotti beans and limoncello vinaigrette

Beatrix Oh My Salted Caramel Pie

Bergstein’s NY Delicatessen Smokey Joe Sandwich Skewer: challah bread, homemade whitefish salad, Nova lox, chive cream cheese, and cherry tomato

Cellar Door Provisions Gruyere levain bread with sprouted emmer wheat, salad of autumn greens and herbs, cultured house butter; also sel gris, sweet rye flour pate a choux, rose hip pastry cream, chocolate glaze, and candied rose hips

Chop Shop Mini pork and beef “mama’s meatballs” with Chop Shop marinara sauce

David Burke Primehouse Lobster dumpling with black garlic aioli, picked radish and a slice of 40 day dry-aged ribeye 

Dusek’s Lightly smoked bay scallop crudo, sunchoke veloute, preserved lemon, and brown butter vinaigrette

Gibsons Sliced Gibsons Prime Angus strip loin and lobster fingerling potato salad

Gogi Bulgogi (marinated beef sirloin), Goon Manu (fried vegetarian dumplings), Banchan (side vegetables), white rice

Honey Butter Fried Chicken Chicken and Grits with roasted chicken, honey buffalo sauce, chicken crust crunchies and scallions

Kinmont Heirloom squash, smoked Mackerel, rye

The Radler Sauerkraut soup, smoked ham, clams, hard cooked egg, and scallions

RPM Steak Grass fed teak tartare, pickled chanterelle, and blue cheese toast

Tippling Hall Lamb Meatball with cucumber, grape tomatoes, greek yogurt, and giardiniera

Travelle White gazpacho with pink shrimp

My Top 3:

chitable14 radler sauerkraut soup

The Radler Sauerkraut Soup

The best overall dish of the night was, hands down, this soup. I love sauerkraut, Sara doesn’t and we both thought it was the top, if that tells you something. This soup was mesmerizing. Literally.  You couldn’t stop eating it, getting more flavor from each bite—a little sour, a little acid, a little spice and heat and almost umami from the smoked ham and clams. Then a creaminess from the little pieces of hardboiled egg. I don’t think I have ever had egg done successfully in soup (and I do not care for egg drop soup), but this was amazing. I wish everyone could try just one bite of it. I’m sure it could be a polarizing dish, but I thought it was stunning. The only addition I wanted? A bite of the large soft pretzels that were on the table!

chitable14 rpm steak tartare

RPM Steak Steak Tartare

This was, for me, the best bite of the night. You took it all at once, the perfect amuse bouche. A single, beautifully textured and balanced bite of flavor. I was incredibly impressed by it. And the touch of cheese “glue” between the crostini perfectly complemented rather than overwhelmed the beef on top. I could eat just that single bite again and again.

chitable14 beatrix caramel pie suzlyfe

Oh, and it is on a coffee cup lid because it was the perfect little holder while I was taking a picture. Also shows the lollipop size.

Beatrix Caramel Pie

The last dish of the night, and a perfect way to bring the evening to a close paired with a decaf from Peet’s Coffee and Tea (thus why in the picture the pie is sitting on the coffee top!). Reminded me of a pumpkin pie (same consistency and depth of flavor) but (obviously) minus the pumpkin and more of a caramel flavor without being caramel-y. I would say that the flavors kind of defied categorization—my first thought of it wouldn’t go to “caramel” but the second bite more confirmed it. More reminiscent (as Sara remarked) of a brulee top, but not burnt. And the graham-type crust was just the right thickness. A truly perfect little treat to end the night.

Runners up:

chitable14 white gazpacho

Travelle White Gazpacho with Pink Shrimp

I don’t care for gazpacho, which is funny because I love all the components of it. I felt this was much more like a vichyssoise (chilled potato-leak soup) but minus the potato, likely with a bit of cream. I would say that the base was leeks. The shrimp were delicate and delicious, and the soup had tremendous flavor. Another surprising winner.

chitable14 tippling hall meatball

Tippling Hall Lamb Meatball

While I wouldn’t say that this dish blew my socks off, each component as well as the entire dish was delicious, comforting, and just brought you back for another bite. I like lamb but am not an overt lamb lover—I like in small doses, particular applications and occasions. Lamb and mint are a traditional pairing, and the take on a sort of tzatziki-esque salad with mint was a fun, Mediterranean-British fusion inspired take on the flavors. Great texture, balance, cool juxtaposed with warm and a little heat as well in the salad. Solid dish, though not a revelation.

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Want to know more? Well, chew on that for a bit, and I will be back tomorrow on my work blog to chat about the other notable dishes from some of Chicago’s best restaurants!

Are you brave enough to try sauerkraut soup?

What was the last truly mesmerizing and bewildering dish that you had?

Have you have had sipping Tequila?

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