Thursday, January 17, 2008


My boyfriend and I went to Feast for the first time last night. It looks really inviting from the outside, so we thought we would finally give it a try. There was a wine tasting going on when we arrived (at 7:00 PM) and a nice crowd had assembled to drink and nosh. While we were seated in the main dining room, the atmosphere of the bar was really pleasant. I definitely would go back on a cold winter night, grab a seat by the fireplace and warm up with some wine. How picturesque!

The decor in the intimate main dining room was also aesthetically pleasing. Brighter than the bar area, beautiful lamps hang from the ceiling. My boyfriend thought they looked retro, but what does he know? The dining room felt surprisingly small--and only about half the tables were full. I imagine that on a busy night it might feel a bit cramped, but I guess that's true of a lot of restaurants.

I started off dinner with a glass of the Riesling and my boyfriend had a Fat Tire (which they had on tap, along with a Goose Island Harvest Ale and some kind of Rogue Ale). I thought the Riesling was good, but not anything special. For an appetizer we ordered the portebello quesadilla, which was more than enough for two people to share. I usually don't like quesadillas, but this one was pretty tasty. Although, I don't think I would order it again. Next time, I want to try the mussels. Yum. For dinner, I had the skirt steak ($19) and my boyfriend had the stuffed chicken with gnocchi ($18). My steak was really good! It was everything a steak should be--juicy, moist, and tasty. It also came with really good mashed potatoes and some delicate onion rings. The chicken was good, but the gnocchi's consistency and texture was just a bit off. They were denser than I usually like them and almost crunchy on the outside, as if they had been lightly fried or toasted. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but either way they tasted a bit strange.  But, it wasn't enough to stop my boyfriend from finishing off his meal and mine! The food was plated nicely and all around it was an enjoyable dinner.

I do, however, have three criticisms. Firstly, the service wasn't superb. While it wasn't by any means bad, our waiter was a bit scarce. I would guess that on busier nights the service would be even slower. Secondly, some of the dishes were slightly pricey. While I thought that my skirt steak was fairly priced, my boyfriend's chicken dish seemed expensive for what it was. Thirdly, and this is purely opinion, I thought a lot of the descriptions on the menu sounded really unappetizing! I'm not a picky eater at all and usually I can find numerous things I want to order at any restaurant, but not many items on Feast's menu grabbed my attention. A lot of them just seemed . . . off.

Complaints aside, I'm sure I'll end up back at Feast one of these days. It definitely warrants a second tasting and it is just so damn close! For those who have to drive there, they have valet parking for 10 bucks. If you are going on a weeknight, don't bother with it! Look for parking on the near by side streets instead!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Earwax Cafe

There must be something addictive about the food at Earwax because since the first time I went there, about six months ago, I've had weekly cravings for their yummy, home-cooked comfort food.

Before my first visit to Earwax, friends and yelpers alike warned me that I might find the atmosphere too pretentious for my taste. I heard tall tales of the scary scenesters and horrible hipsters that call this place home. But, Earwax has much more of a hippy dippy feeling to me than anything else. It is like the Heartland Caf minus the politics. Admittedly, you do see the occasional scruffy boy reading Catch 22 (didn't we all read that in high school?) and groups of young twenty somethings that look like they might work at American Apparel, but everyone seems content to live and let live. Earwax has a really relaxed, homey atmosphere that nicely compliments their food.

Which brings me to the good stuff. Other yelpers have complained about the quality and taste of the food, but I think it is some of the best casual, vegan/vegetarian friendly food I've had. The Garbage Salad with chicken is my stand by, but their BBQ Satan Burrito, Tuna Melt, and omelets are sure things as well. Some things on the menu cost a few dollars more than you would like, but I think the extra money is usually worth it. Plus, Earwax is BYOB so you can save money bringing your own drinks.

However, I do have two gripes about Earwax. It can get a bit crowded and I absolutely hate waiting to be seated. If you want to beat the crowds, steer clear of here on the weekends--especially during brunch. Also, it is cash only and that is just sort of a pain. Other than those two minor problems, Earwax is a great, funky place to go with friends.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Webster's Wine Bar

Based on the great reviews written by other yelpers, My boyfriend and I tried Webster's Wine Bar last night (1/11/08) along with another couple. None of us had ever been to a wine bar before so we weren't sure what to expect, but it was one of the best Friday nights I've had in a while.

Firstly, I must confess that the great company probably had lots to do with the fabulous evening. Good friends and wine almost always equal a good time. But the warm atmosphere, helpful staff, extensive wine selection, and DELICIOUS appetizers made it a really special night.

We each started with a wine flight. My friend and I both had the Classic Whites, my boyfriend had the Winter Reds, and our fourth tried the Argentinian Reds (their current special). All of us enjoyed the selections and found them generously poured and reasonably priced. Plus, our waitress was able to recommend some appetizers and cheeses that would compliment our respective flights. The food was great and arrived surprisingly quickly. After finishing our flights, we split two bottles of wine (one red and one white) that our waitress recommended and ordered more appetizers and two pizzas. I was a bit worried that we would end up with some crappy bar pizza, but it was very tasty and nicely done. We didn't try any of the main courses, but between the four of us we managed to try almost every appetizer. I highly recommend all of them except the artichoke tampanade (not very flavorful) and the olives (not worth the money).

Not only was the food and wine great, but the atmosphere was so inviting and pleasant. We arrived at 7:30 and were seated right away. Our table was a bit too small with all of our  glasses and plates, but we asked if we could combine two tables and they (after a bit of hemming and hawing) obliged. And by the time the place filled up and they asked us to give up our second table we were too many glasses in to mind. Our laid-back server definitely helped give Webster's a neighborhoody feel. This is the sort of place I wouldn't feel weird wearing jeans or a dress to. Plus, there were people of all ages. So while I went last night with three other people under 25, I would also go with my 60 year old mom. Even though by the time we left (10:30) they had gotten pretty busy, I never felt like we were in some Friday night scene. I definitely want to check this place out on a weeknight to compare, but it was surprisingly relaxed for a Friday night.  

All in all a great place to go with friends and I am looking forward to returning.

Friday, January 11, 2008

ZK Food (now closed)

In the last six months I've gone to ZKFood about a half-dozen times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since I live in the neighborhood, it's a convenient place to grab dependably pretty good food, but it's definitely not worth a commute--especially because the service is very green. No one who works here seems to have any idea about how to wait tables. The waitresses always seem confused and a bit ditzy. BUT, if you don't mind getting the toast that is supposed to come with your eggs after you have already half finished your breakfast or if waiting 15 minutes for the check doesn't completely stress you out, you'll be able to appreciate your tasty meal. If these sorts of newbie service slips make your blood boil, skip ZKFood and try Earwax or Piece instead.

If the idea of bad service hasn't scared you off, I would definitely recommend going for breakfast or lunch. I've had dinner there once and I wasn't that impressed. TVs on the walls but votive candles on the tables . . . oh my. Its not quite a deli but not quite chic, not quite gourmet but not quite comfort food, and not quite good enough for the money you'll be throwing down. On the other hand, their breakfast and lunch food is pretty good! The weird relaxed atmosphere works for those meals. For breakfast, try their huge and fluffy pancakes and for lunch try their turkey reuben. I've had both of these a few times and they always hit the spot.

Besides the all around yummy food, another nice aspect about ZKFood is the clientele. Compared to other places in the neighborhood, the brunch crowd is WAY less obnoxious and I've never once spotted a disapproving hipster or overly obnoxious family. It's definitely not "scene" and as a regular girl who lives in the neighborhood, I appreciate the low-key atmosphere. They have applied for a liquor license though, so we will see how long that lasts.