September 25, 2011

Morton's Power Hour

After reading a couple not-so-great posts about Morton's I had mixed feelings before attending their "Power Hour" happy hour.  I was dreading a possible food and drink let-down but intrigued at the prospect of a satisfying happy hour that was not too good to be true.

I started with a glass of the Cabernet followed by the Malbec from the happy hour menu; both were $5.50 each until 6:30pm.  I also had the mini-cheeseburgers which were absolutely delicious; 2 filled me up and I gave away the 3rd.  After savoring the 2 mini-cheeseburgers I realized I prefer a slider version vs. one large burger.  They were piled high with a thick tomato and lettuce.  We split an order of the steak fries with blue cheese amongst the table.

Morton's Power Hour menu includes discounted prices on select draft and bottled beer, wine and also specialty martinis.  The food menu consisted of "Bar Bites" items priced at $5 and $6 including the mini-cheeseburgers, filet sliders and mini crab cake BLT to name a few.  In addition to these selections our table also ordered a couple of the iceberg wedge bites.

I was quite impressed with the drinks (the Malbec was lovely), the food and especially the service at Morton's.  With such a convenient location in the heart of downtown I feel like this may be a hidden gem among other, more highly promoted happy hours.  If I worked downtown I could see Morton's becoming my go-to place for a drink and light meal after work and I look forward to returning sometime soon to try their regular dinner menu or for a nice repeat of their happy hour menu.
Morton's - the Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

September 17, 2011

Cock and Bull- Hyde Park

Cock and Bull English Pub puts a different twist on Hyde Park dining.  I stopped by for a late lunch with some co-workers and left happy with a very full belly.
We ordered beers and split a few appetizers to start:  A 3-dip trio with multi-color chips, beer cheese with pretzels and caprese buschetta.  The beer cheese was collectively rated one of the best, possibly 2nd only to Hofbrauhaus??  I've tried a lot of bad beer cheese over the years and Cock and Bull's version did not disappoint. The other 2 dips in the trio were spinach artichoke and bangers dip; a delightful creamy sausage dip with light hints of tomato and a slight kick.

After the satisfying appetizers I wasn't in the mood for a heavy lunch so I chose a small, single portion of fried fish and a side salad.  When in Rome...

But we weren't in Rome and the fish wasn't exactly beer-battered, it was covered in bread crumbs and fried.  If you're looking for real beer-battered cod in Hyde Park you may want to go across the square to Arthur's.  The lettuce on my salad was mostly iceberg, I prefer leafy romaine.  Let's face it, salads aren't exactly what English pubs are made of and ordering a salad at an English pub is like ordering spaghetti and meatballs at a seafood restaurant.  When you go to Cock and Bull think deep fried, think cream based soups and dips, think carb-loading and saturated fats at their finest.  Oh, and beer!  I got to thinking that with such a wonderful selection of beer they may want to try and whip up some beer-batter for the fish.

The sandwich and wrap portions definitely yield 2 meals.  See below, chicken teryaki wrap and BLT. 

Heavy on the B...

Last, but certainly not least...because it wouldn't be lunch in Hyde Park without a bloody mary on the table:)
It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that a wine bar and up-scale restaurant use to exist in this space that now houses more of a sport's bar.  The red vinyl on the booths was a bit too Steak n' Shake for me, but all things considered I had a positive experience at Cock and Bull.  I can definitely see myself going back if I am in the area but probably would not make a special trip.  Cock and Bull is the place to go if you're in the market for an extensive beer menu and an above average appetizer and sandwich selection.   During the warmer months you might even score a bit of ambiance on one of their 2 outdoor patios. Cock & Bull English Pub on Urbanspoon

September 10, 2011

Relish Modern Tapas

I made the trek up north to try Relish Modern Tapas located in the Deerfield Towne Center to celebrate Ms. Jessica's birthday!  My last tapas experience was years ago at Latitudes cafe and I was ready to try more small plates.

Relish has a very modern, dark-lit decor, swanky if I do say so myself.  Not what I would expect from a restaurant located in an outdoor strip mall.  Guests can choose items on their regular menu or from their Pintxos menu, which are very small bite size tapas that originated in Northern Spain. A variety of lite bites from our table are below, my favorite was the piquillo pepper stuffed with short ribs and served on baguette.  The grilled lemon herb chicken thigh with saffron aioli did not meet my expectations and I don't recommend it, the best part of that bite was the aioli. The tuna poached in olive oil on avocado toasts was also a crowd pleaser.  The lite bites range from $1-$2.50

On to the regular tapas menu.  I was so very tempted by the paella, but considering I tried authentic paella while I was in Northern Spain I knew my expectations would be high and probably wouldn't measure up.  I went with a spinach mushroom empanada, which included a small side salad.  The flavor was nice and included strong hints of garlic.  The side salad was the perfect portion and garnish to go with this dish.
I followed this with a delicious bowl of strawberry gazpacho, not sure what was up with the reverse ordering on my part but this soup seemed too good to pass up.  That's the fun thing about tapas restaurants, you can kind of order as you please and then stop when you're full to capacity. 

Some of the other entrees selected at our table are below: filet, ribs and cream soup trio. I didn't taste any of these but if you're a visual person the pics help. Many of the entrees, including paella, were in the $13-$16 range. 

Last but certainly not least is the dessert.  I knew I had to go with either churros or flan. I decided whole-heartedly on the flan, big fan of custard desserts.  Their version included bits of macadamia and chocolate pieces.  Mmmmm!

Happy Birthday Jessica, hope you had a fabulous evening!