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Lyfe Restaurant Reviews Reviews Sustenance WIAW

Cicchetti, Bellwether, Benchmark #Wiaw

Happy Wednesday, ladies and gents! And welcome to another addition of Susie Eats Chicago, also known as OMGALLTHEFOODS, also known as #WIAW. We’ve got a lot to cover (as usual), so let’s get to the smorgasbord of noms. Yeah, I said it.

Thank you as always, Jenn!

Thank you as always, Jenn!

We are going to have to go back a little bit, to Sunday of last week for our first review of some favorite Chicago restaurants in Streeterville and Old Town.

Cicchetti, round 2. Read about Round 1, the day of my job interview, here!

Funny story–we had the same waitress, only this time she was blond! And we sat outside. LE SIGH.

cicchetti padrona shandy limoncello suzlyfe

You know I have to talk about their drinks. I had to get the La Padrona again. CH gin, St. Germain, Strawberry Rhubarb Consomme, Rhubarb Bitters. So, so good, if a bit sweeter than last time. Still amazing. Alex went with their version of a Shandy–Bell’s Oberon (a summer wheat) and House made lemonade. I was flabbergasted by how good this was. Like beyond amazed. Maybe one of the best beer drinks I’ve had. Limoncello is brought out at the end of the meal, and it was of course amazeballs, but WAY stronger than last time, haha! Well, you know they make it themselves!

cicchetti salad pizza ravioli suzlyfe

We kept it pretty simple this time, but I have to say that the flavors were, as always, so, so incredible. This was the day of my long run + yoga with Sara + pancakes and such, so I wanted to get my vegetables in. Y’all know me and my veg. So on the left, Alex and I shared the Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad, which features shaved asparagus, spinach, fresh peas, radishes, shaved parm, and a light parm dressing (that was so amazingly good as I remembered it being that we saved it for our mains). There is just something so incredible about truly fresh produce. And holy crow, the spinach leaves were HUGE. A little touch that I really liked was the fact that the shaved asparagus had some seasoning on it, by itself–it just lifted everything that extra little notch.

For our mains, I got the mortadella, ricotta, pepperocini, spinach, and shaved asparagus pizza. I am very proud to say that I ate that entire thing (then again, you all know I have a tendency to do so with thin crust, veggie topped, light cheese pizzas. I’ve been known. Cough Blaze.). I have a closer-up picture, but mortadella doesn’t photo really well when you have taken a bite of the pizza, so you are going to have to visualize: thin, super airy crust (different than last time–this was more like a pita in flavor, with a thin puffiness similar to putting a tortilla in a fryer for a fried taco; still crisp, but with more chew), thin layer of ricotta (I asked for not tons, it was the perfect amount), scattered shaved pepperocini (not over-powering, just a nice little zing), layer of house mortadella (this is Italian baloney, essentially. This tasted of a cross between turkey and ham with olive undertones), more big a$$ spinach, topped with asparagus. CHILLS. This was spring/summer on a wheaty pizza crust.

Alex got the Braised Short Rib Ravioli with house tomato sauce and parm. If you remember from Nonna’s meatballs last time, I said that I wanted to climb inside of that sauce. It was the same stuff, and omgomgomgomg. It truly is at the top of the best sauces I have ever, ever had. I stole some for my pizza. The ravioli was fantastic, as to be expected. I’m not the biggest short rib fan, it just isn’t my fave, but this was a great example of it–the essence of beef.

Because Alex’s portion was appropriately (read, not ridiculous American) sized, and we had only had a small app, he was on the prowl. And so we got this bad boy.

cicchetti sundae suzlyfe

I like bad boys. Especially when they are made of the following magic: Sundae : tiramisu gelato, Fernet Branca menta fudge, pistachio brittle, amarena cherries, and homemade whipped cream. Oh, and the tiramisu gelato? They freeze pieces of tiramisu and then fold it in. UN FREAKING REAL. The cherries ooohhhhhhh ermigerd. You know how I am about cherries, and these were similar to the Luxardo ones that you get for real Manhattans.


Apparently, that was the week of sundaes and cookies.


Bellwether is a good restaurant right around the corner from us. The decor is having a bit of an identity crisis, as are some other aspects of the place, but it fit the bill for being close and easy, and then we had the lovely surprise of finding out that certain bottles of wine were 1/2 price. ANDDDDD so we ended up with a Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon. I like Sonoma Cabs–they aren’t as WABAM as Napa. Pretty excellent, I must say. Great fruit, not overly dry, nice body, really good mouth feel. Probably too much for what I was having, but easy to drink and fine with a great number of dishes.

bellwether jalapeno tuna burger suzlyfe

I wanted something light–I was feeling kinda weird, and tuna was calling to me, so I got the tuna crudo wrap, with tomato, spinach, tuna, avocado, carrot, green apple, and a wasabi vin. I unwrapped it in true Suz fashion, and it was good, but the ratios were a little off. The wasabi stuff was bangin though. Alex got the jalapeno cheddar burger, which also has crispy onion strings and bacon on it. The slaw and fries are really, really good, so I did the right thing and helped him make his way.

You know what we finished with:

A bottle of wine later.... this happened

A bottle of wine later…. this happened

Skillet cookie. They make it when you order it, so it takes a bit, and by then we were honestly not hungry or needing it, but how are you going to turn that down? It was good (duh) but dense, and afterward, I thought we were both going to need to be rolled home. Oh, and when it came out, the chocolate was bubbling a bit from where it touched the skillet.

Benchmark (Old Town)

Another al fresco (and great people watching) opportunity. Benchmark is definitely on the list for places to take friends (or ourselves, lol) in the future. Lots more on the menu we want to try.

benchmark tangerine

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat If you like mimosas, but sometimes find them too orangey, GET THIS. This is amazing. I put it up there with the Cicchetti shandy. I don’t like flavored beers, but this, YESH. Perfect for summer–drier, not overly orangey, delish.

benchmark salad hummus skewers suzlyfe

We decided to do the app/ small mail route, but good lord, that hummus + guacamole platter was huge and we were both full after it. We still cleared our plates. Mama taught me good. 😉 The hummus was roasted red pepper and the guac was spot on–with HUGE pieces of avocado. Warm toasted pita, veggies, and those super crispy fried tortillas. We got extra veg, and had already pretty much called uncle on the pita when Alex’s chicken skewers arrived with more guac and pitas! Delicious, if a little bit oily. Kind of a cilantro marinade, and with green goddess dip (I took it home and actually licked the container clean). There was even more avocado on my plate! I got the southwest salad with grilled chicken (with a chipotle sauce), tomato, corn, black beans, chihuahua cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, southwest dressing (chipotle ranch, basically).

We ate it alllllllll. And it was goooooood. Well, we ate it all but took the second round of pita, guac, and green goddess home. And then we walked up to Lincoln park and the zoo (after a stop to discuss important things like cinnamon and cardamom at Spice Market next door).

And last night? I had D4. Yeah. Talk about fueling for a marathon!

OMGALLTHEFOODS. 😀 Always and forever!

So, did I make up for the lack of foodie discussion of late? I hope so, my fingers are exhausted.

Have you had mortadella before? What about tangerine wheat beer, or a proper shandy? What is your favorite summer libation?

Hummus or guacamole?

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