Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Friday, March 1, 2013 3:34pm
Subject: Bring a Friend OR Dinner for (at Least) Two
Hey RR -
I’ve wanted to share a few more Chicago places with you – some new, some not so new – that have gots the goods. Make sure that you bring a friend (or three) with you, as you’ll want to sample these menus up, down and sideways.
First up is Belly Q. Bill Kim is easily one of my favorite chefs in Chicago. He is Korean and his wife is Puerto Rican and he finds this smooth line of melding the two cuisines together, when appropriate. Bill has a couple of other places, Urban Belly and Belly Shack, but Belly Q is his newest venture with Michael Jordan’s restaurant group. (Yes, that Michael Jordan.) It’s a new, modern spin on a Korean BBQ joint. I’ve had way more than half of the menu in the few times I’ve been, and I can tell you that you’ll want to go with a few people and try a lot. Don’t miss the Thai Style Fried Chicken (pictured above), the Double Smoked Bacon and Kimchi Pancake, the Almond Caesar Salad, the hot pots, the small bites, the smoked section…they’re all good! Oh yes, he even makes a coconut water-based soft serve ice cream. They’re now open for lunch…soon opening for brunch… and have a to-go area with faster food such as buns and salads and whatnot. If you like flavorful food that’s a departure from the mainstream, Belly Q is your destination.
And Ada Street…oh, Ada Street. Morton and Kornick are at it again – these two know how to run a place. Ada Street is hidden just north of North Avenue and just east of Elston (don’t worry, you’ll find it). It’s pretty casual – a super cool space that used to be a factory of sorts and has a sweet patio with a ping pong table for when it’s nice outside. It’s cozy with delicious, seasonal food (I’m not a fan of that word, “seasonal,” but that’s exactly what it is). Katy and I sat at the bar and went to town. We ordered simply blanched green beans sautéed with shallots; a fantastic lamb-filled arancini over a spicy yogurt sauce; a lovely and different grilled peach, ricotta and soppressata salad; a little taste of a pea soup (served in a little cup – it was perfect) that Katy tried to steal from me; and a roasted squash with Fresno peppers and mint salad. The panna cotta with strawberry rhubarb and lemon shortbread crumble on top we had for dessert was insanely good and we practically raced to finish it, we both liked it so much! You’ll appreciate the neat little touches and combinations of flavors added to the otherwise approachable items on the menu.
I was a little ticked off that I never made it to Terragusto when it was open, and I know that many industry folk were upset to see it go. Supposedly Chef Theo Gilbert made some mean pastas. But when I heard about his newest (okay, not exactly that new anymore) venture opening up down the street from my apartment, I was psyched to give it a try. Ripasso is a little Italian restaurant with a selection of small plates, uber-seasonal (as if seasonal could be more seasonal) antipasti and a stellar lineup of pastas. The first pasta that you need to try is the pappardelle, served in a creamy four-meat sauce with parmigiano and scented with truffle. Trust me, this dish will have you craving it again for days and weeks to come. Yet I love going back, because they always have new pasta dishes on the menu to try. Once again, bring a friend. I’ll leave it at that.
And that’s what’s on my plate!
1400 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607
1664 North Ada Street
Chicago, IL 60642
1619 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!