12 August 2011

30/66 Chicago: The Finale

The original plan (and original plans never seem to work out) was to get up early Sunday morning and partake in two separate breakfasts. Matt and I actually did manage to arise on time, but after dumbly staring at each other for 10 minutes we both went back to bed. There was an unspoken agreement that breakfast #1 was cancelled (it was supposed to be at Southport Grocery and Café in case you were wondering.) Luckily, the entire gang was up in time for our 11am brunch reservation at Nightwood. After an ass-blasting drive down Lake Shore we arrived right on time.

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Everything about this place screamed uppity “our shit don’t stink” attitude, and it showed when I walked by a food runner with this permed fauxhawk abomination on his head two separate times and both times he gave me a look of utter disgust. I think he wanted a piece. Plus the acoustics blew goats. Luckily, our flamboyant server couldn’t’ve been nicer, and aside from the most uncomfortable chairs I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant, I really enjoyed our time here.
Their brunch menu changes weekly, and luckily this week there were more than a few items that caught my eye.

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I gladly accepted offers of coffee and ice water (coffee may have been a bad idea, because after four cups I was quaking like a crack fiend in bad need of a fix) and we decided to split a few starters to, erm, start.

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We went with both types of housemade doughnuts (read the menu for a full description) and the pop-tart.

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The pop-tart was alright, nothing special. The salad was actually the component that received the most praise. Foie gras dough? I think they forgot the foie gras in our dough, because that component was nigh undetectable.

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This is the second time I’ve ordered a fancified doughnut and not been impressed. I don’t think I’ll be making that mistake again.

Out of the two doughnuts, I preferred the bacon maple.

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The bacon marmalade/compote wasn’t as smoky as I expected, which I actually enjoyed, and the maple was applied with a restrained hand and played nicely off the bacon. They made friends.

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I feel like putting bacon in everything has been done to death, but this dish didn’t feel like it was capitalizing on a trend, instead it was a well-executed example of a classic combination of flavors.

I felt like I would’ve preferred the ‘affogato’ doughnut had I ordered it for myself instead of sharing it with the rest of the table in slivers.

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I would’ve mashed it all up and used the dough as a vessel to get the great combination of espresso custard and vanilla ice cream into my mouth.

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Whenever I hit up the local Chinese buffet I always end my meal burying a Chinese doughnut in a pile of chocolate-vanilla swirl soft serve. I love that shit.

For my main course I ordered the cleverly named “Full Monty Cristo” and added on a side of their signature tater tots. Nikki ordered the Three Sisters oatmeal with a side of bacon. I’m sick of saying housemade, so just assume everything I talk about is unless otherwise noted.

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Now isn’t that one of the sexiest plates of food you’ve seen in a while? I’m pretty sure the table next to us heard my johnson thump into the bottom of the table. That’s right, as the Chicago Gluttons would say: Nightwood made me pop wood.

The voice memo about this meal is hilarious. It’s a 3 minute babbling rant about every dish we ordered. Caffeine is most certainly a drug. Well, I’ll try to decipher some of this nonsense so I can compose a halfway decent post.

My bread pudding was my favorite item of the meal, until I took a bite of those tots.

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Goddamn, those are some crazy wizard’s orbs of limitless potato power. The uninitiated trembled before me as I cast them across the room not unlike fiery meteors of utter devastation. Or maybe I just ate them, I don’t really recall.

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Ultra-crispy balls of potato shreds apparently can make a dude wet. They did me. Combine that with the best iteration of rhubarb jam that has ever passed these lips and I was a happy camper. Yep, a happy camper. Thankfully, I didn’t have to shit in the woods.

Anyway, back to my main dish. I didn’t want to stop eating this either.

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While Matt said (he ordered the same thing) the flavor profile exhausted his tastebuds, as soon as I cleaned my plate I went right for his. Gluttony at it’s finest.

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The prosciutto was a little hard to cut through, and the smear of goat cheese seemed like nothing more than an afterthought, but the combination of creamy, gooey, custardy bread pudding, runny egg yolk, and rhubarb jam really worked.

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I tried Nikki’s bacon and it kicked ass as well. Caramelized pig belly goodness. Unfortunately, while the texture was great, her oatmeal was a little too sweet for me, and she agreed.

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Those cherries were like little HFCS bombs. The menu also states yogurt as a component, but I guess she ate it all before handing it over so I could have a bite.

To summarize this meal: Bread pudding at breakfast is always a good idea and note to Nightwood: Sell a basket o’ tots as an appetizer. It’ll kill.

We toyed with the idea of hitting up Johnnie’s Beef before heading to the airport, but in the end we were all pretty stuffed. So we used our last few hours in Chicago to explore the Museum of Science and Industry.

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As you can see, this museum is fucking awesome. Apparently, Chicago is filled with awesome museums.

To conclude our eatings in Chicago I had a Char Polish from Gold Coast Dogs at Midway Airport.

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I think I would’ve preferred it Maxwell Street style (onions and mustard) as opposed to Chicago style.

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The dog itself was damn tasty though, especially for airport food. Charrededy bits are the true key to my heart.

So there you have it folks, 66 hours later and we were on a plane on our way back to Baltimore. This was by far one of the best birthdays I’ve had (way better than B&O last year) and one of my favorite trips to date. I’ve really been knocking them out of the park this year. Both New Orleans and Chicago were incredible trips. Let’s hope our anniversary trip to San Francisco next week maintains the trend.

As always, thanks for reading.


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