we got the beets

my last night in chicago was spent like every other night whilst there, a whirlwind of eating, drinking and friends. we started out the evening walking a dog and enjoying some hot toddies. did you know that half a honey stick is the perfect amount of honey for a mug of hot toddy? finding ourselves lacking two essential ingredients - lemon and honey - we hit up a local produce stand/co-op for the goods. a jar of honey cost a whopping $4.29 but i knew i only needed a smidge. as i checked out i noticed a little jar of honey sticks - 25 cents each! i quickly put the overpriced honey jar back and spent a measley 50 cents on two sticks. the perfect amount of honey for four hot toddies (two double toddies each, that is). just a friendly heads up for your winter drinking pleasure!

once warm and toasty, we headed over to lula cafe in logan square. this place is basically the perfect restaurant, in my book. warm and cozy, but not TOO small, dark and ambient but with enough light for some decent picture taking, a price point that makes you feel slightly fancy without breaking the bank and a menu offering an amazing array of diverse options. and a seasonal menu at that, not to mention a charming wait staff and lovely decor. we started things off with a round of sangria and shortly thereafter we were surprised with a complementary amuse-bouche. i've never been to a place that served amuse-bouche and it was so tiny and special, how i like most everything.

you can thank the sangria for all my shoddy pictures
amuse-bouche of pomegranate salad

we then inquired with our waitress about the mushroom rilette. we were informed that a rillette is usually a dish similar to a pate with a layer of fat on top to seal in flavor......(eww). however, lula's rillette was made with four different mushrooms and a layer of house-cultured butter on top. ok, the butter was a bit much, but this was obviously way more my speed than cubed salted fatted pork. the rillette was served with a whole grain mustard, caperberries, a mixed green salad and toast. we TORE THIS UP so fast we had to ask for more toast. the mushroom rillette was coarsely chopped and full of mushroomy goodness. one of my favorites of the night.

my vegetarian dining companion and i decided to go halfsies on two very different dishes. i ordered (with strong support from the rest of the table) the beet bruschetta featuring olive oil marinated beets with goat cheese atop a toasty baguette and an arugula and red onion salad drizzled with roasted garlic vinaigrette. served with a side of crispy roasted fingerling potatoes. although this seemed like more of an appetizer, it was pretty huge and really filling. so simple. so delicious. my co-diner ordered the pasta yiayia which was bucatini (crazy pasta kind of shaped like a drinking straw with a hollow middle) with moroccan cinnamon, garlic, feta and brown butter. whoever thought of mixing cinnamon, feta and pasta can now take my hand in marriage.

finally, stuffed as we were, we somehow, some way, made room for dessert. when i was strictly vegan, dessert was something in which i didn't often partake. and usually i was way too stuffed anyway, so it didn't even matter. but being a bit more lax with my restrictions these days has opened up a whole new possibility for CRAZY FULLNESS. so i've been keeping myself in check in the dessert realm. this night, however, was an exception, especially after seeing the dessert menu. between the four of us we split two things: a brandied conserve crepe with toasted walnut ice cream, creme fraiche ice cream and clotted cream AND a rosemary creme caramel (think firmer than flan consistency) with pear and peppercorn brittle. dudes, this stuff was amazing. unabashedly freaking insanely good. no regrets. the crepe was maybe one of the best desserts i've had in my entire life. plus we had digestifs which is just adorable.

so there you have it. this trip to chicago was so successful in so many ways. good friends, good laughs, food, drink, coffee, animals, 'getting away from it all' and even some cultural activities thrown in for good measure! we're not just killing those brain cells, we're enhancing them first before they go. oh, and feeding them, REALLY well.



Isaiah said...

I love the breakfast burrito at Lula...it's amazing!

Caitlin Strandquist said...

yum! i was glad to have shared this delicious meal with you!