We’re gonna walk down to St. Roch Avenue…and then we’re going drinking!

Hidden away from the crass and crazy Quarter is this little bastion of reality that dates back to the 1930′s.  The neighborhood is known as the Marigny and the sub-neighborhood is called St. Roch.  So you’ll find the St. Roch Tavern on St. Roch avenue in the St. Roch neighborhood (just down from the St. Roch cemeteries). And if you’re visiting New Orleans you will want to find it!

All things converge at the St. Roch tavern:  food and drink, young and old, music and conversation, jazz and bounce, men and women, gamblers and drinkers, smokers and non…you name it!  It’s not uncommon to see a twenty-something professional drinking with a seventy-something blues man.  Every inch of this place oozes Old New Orleans history!  One only needs to take a look at the mosaic on the steps of the back door that reads, “Ladies” to know this place has been around and seen some things.

A night out drinking at St. Roch tavern is extremely affordable!  Every day they feature $6 pitchers of PBR and $9 pitchers of Abita.  Your average shot floats around $5!!!  And if you’re the designated driver they will gladly serve you an RC Cola.

Local performers strut their stuff on the stage and fill the bar with tunes old and new after 8pm.  Although any given night could have a band your best bet is on the weekends.  Every Saturday night a DJ “spins” and people “dance” to Bounce, an energetic style of New Orleans hip hop.  We do everything our own way down here!

If there’s a Saints game on you can be sure to catch it here with a crowd of loyal fans, drink specials and good food!

Speaking of good food, every day from 12am-3pm and 5pm-10pm Brandito’s Burritos serves up a delicious array of Tex Mex delights that will satisfy far more than typical bar munchies.  The menu includes such things as Migas, Seven Layer Burrito, Street tacos and Gorditas.  Stop in for Five Dollar Friday for great food at a special price!

As is typical of most of my reviews…this place is real New Orleans.  Real food, real prices, real music and real people.  So for a real good time you need to hunt this place down and stop in for few, which can easily become a lot in an historic joint like this.

1200 St. Roch Avenue

12pm ’til we say, “go home.”

(504) 782-5526

facebook.com/BranditosBurritos

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Grilled Cheese Party

Written by on August 29th, 2011

In a celebration of one of my favorite comfort foods, I embarked to Roxy’s Grilled Cheese viewing party two Sundays ago. This viewing party held at Tavern in the Square, hilariously known around the Allston area as T.I.T.S., was held in honor of the grilled cheese truck’s appearance on Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.”

Sadly, the viewing party was remiss of their custom-made grilled cheese, but seeing as their yellow and aluminum truck graces the Cleveland Circle area quite often I can get my fix any other time.

The party was complete with a photo booth, a party photographer, and a party videographer. The room was completely filled, a testament to the following Roxy’s Grilled Cheese has in the city of Boston. Although it was quite hard to hear the actual show over the yells of the crowd, the pride swelling in the Boston natives was incredibly apparent.

The highlights of the show included the Boston boys standing their ground when their opponents The Lime Truck tried to scoot in on their territory.  This situation led to the phrase of the night “slime truck.” This very phrase was heavily tweeted following the show, and created a strong division line between Roxy fans and The Lime Truck fans.

The end of the show led to Roxy’s group being in the bottom two, and luckily pulling through to the next city.

Following the saga of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese on “The Great Food Truck Race,” this band of former rockers made a close call in Salt Lake City, being in the bottom two yet again. These close calls scared quite a few of their Boston fans, once again incredibly apparent on Twitter shortly after the show.

The following this group has picked up so rapidly is truly amazing, something I can attest to having personally visited Roxy’s Grilled Cheese truck shortly after they opened. Upon stepping up to the aluminum awning blasting a variety of music, it’s easy to see how they have gained this following so quickly. In addition to their awesome grilled cheese creations, these guys are so personable that you feel like you could have easily had the bond of kids growing up on the same street. So cheer on these Boston boys as they continue their journey on “The Great Food Truck Race” and hopefully kicking some “slime” truck butt on the way.

 

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Sunday in the Park with beer.

Written by on July 15th, 2011

Holy inexpensive inebriation Batman!

Is it in Mid City or Bayou St. John or City Park?  The debate rages.  Until you’ve downed your second pitcher and all debating is moot.  Unless you’re debating your capacity to stand up straight and whether you should walk or call United Cab.

Hands down the Parkview Tavern has the best pitcher deal in the city!  During their Happy Hour,  M-F from 4-7,  a pitcher of domestic beer will cost you $4.50.  A pitcher of Abita, a local Louisiana beer (Louisiana not counted as part of America therefore not domestic…totally UNdomesticated) will cost you slightly more: $6.50!!!  Every Sunday is all-day Happy Hour with domestics at $5.50 and Abita at $7.50.  It’s enough to blow your mind!  And your liver!

“But darn,” you say, “I work at those hours.”  Well, no need to worry, the Tavern has come up with a remarkable solution, probably one of the cleverest “gimmicks” in town: the wooden nickel.  When you purchase a pitcher they don’t necessarily pour you a pitcher instead they give you four wooden nickels each good for a pint (the equivalent of 1/4 pitcher)!  You may elect to use them right then and there or take them home and save them for a later date.  At this point they become rather like “booze stamps.”  And tales abound of all those evacuated after Katrina who saved their nickels as proof they intended to return.  Return they did and their nickels were honored.  It’s just another amazing two-fisted tale of New Orleanian’s and their dedication to their city and their local bar.

But that’s not the only reason to go and hang out there, oh no!  Pool, darts, sports on TV,  a cool jukebox and one of the last few places to feature the in-house Playmaker video gaming system on which you play against each other and people from around the world in Texas Hold’em and trivia.

They don’t serve food regularly but someone usually cooks up a spread for sporting event…especially the Saints.  Just look over the bar and you’ll instantly understand these people’s devotion to their sporting teams.

Located at 910 North Carrolton Ave. they are just a hop, skip and a jump from City Park and Esplanade Ave.  You can even take our new streetcar there ( from Canal St. $1.25)!

They have typical New Orleans hours: 12-whenever

Come by, chill with the locals inside or on the patio and contrary to popular wisdom…take some wooden nickels!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Parkview-Tavern/194592673907048?ref=ts&sk=wall

(504) 482-2680

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Cupcake Crawl

Written by on July 7th, 2011

A little while ago, my roommate and I embarked on a journey to find the best cupcake place in Boston. This idea was born from our mutual love of cupcakes, and desire to try to find the best in our food. After eliminating a few we had been to before, we settled on four different places that we had yet to visit. The four cupcake places were: South End Buttery, Isabelle’s Curly Cakes, Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe, and Kickass Cupcakes. We rated the places on a scale of one to ten. Here are the results of our difficult, stomach filling work.

1) South End Buttery

Rating: 8 out of 10. The strawberry cupcake had a nice crusty top to the cupcake and light airy icing. The inside of this place was incredibly cute, it seemed to be a hot spot for brunch goers around the area. Only reason for giving it less than a 10 out of 10 is that the batter could have been a bit more moist.

2) Isabelle’s Curly Cakes

Rating: 7 out of 10. The cake was incredibly moist, and the icing was whipped to perfection. The problem I had with my cupcake was that inside the chocolate cupcake was basically just a hard ball of peanut butter. I think this could have been remedied by whipping the peanut butter a bit more. The two points also comes out of the lack of dining area, perhaps they should put a small table or two out on the sidewalk.
3) Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe
Rating: 3 out of 10. This sweet shop may specialize in its other creations, but cupcakes are not their specialty.  Both my roommate and I were unhappy with our cupcakes. My banana cupcake could have been great as banana bread, but as a cupcake it lacked. The frosting was also lackluster, it was way too sweet and dense. There was also the factor of there being no seating there, we had to find a bench down the road to eat our cupcakes.
4) Kickass Cupcakes
Rating: 9 out of 10. Though this cupcake place did not have any seating in the actual place, their cupcakes were outstanding. I bought a key lime pie cupcake and a mojito cupcake. We were too full after eating at the previous places, so we just brought these home with us. I was worried that the two flavors I got would be too similar, but I was pleasantly surprised. The key lime had a gooey filling with a moist cake surrounding it and a burnt marshmallow top. It was the next best thing to eating a key lime pie.
So out of this contest, Kickass Cupcakes came out the winner with South End Buttery coming up a close second.
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Scooper Bowl Madness

Written by on June 23rd, 2011

On June 9th I attended The 29th Annual Scooper Bowl, and I attended it on what might be considered the perfect day for huge amount of ice cream consumption. On this day in Boston, the high reached 92 degrees with the sun beating down on the brick filled City Hall Plaza.

As it was an incredibly hot day outside, I had to wait in a line that was longer than anything I’ve ever seen at a Baskin and Robbins’ store. It was kind of like a free for all to get to the actual ice cream at each of the booths. With little kids hopped up on sugar pushing behind me, I made my way to each booth in determination to try at least one flavor from every vendor (and upon reaching this goal I had an enormous stomach ache).

First off was Soco Creamery, in which I consumed the Espresso Cookie, a delicious blend that could only be described as the next best thing to an actual espresso.

Right after that on my journey was the HP Hood/Brigham’s booth where I got the Hood BoSox Brownie and my friend got the Brigham’s Mocha Chip. While the BoSox Brownie flavor was delicious, it was the Mocha Chip flavor that won this booth. This flavor brought back memories of the Mud Pie my mom used to make for me on the birthdays that I requested it. Mocha Chip was simply delicious.

Shortly after that we made our way to the only gelato stand there at the Scooper Bowl, Ciao Bella Gelato. At this stand I decided to try the Key Lime Graham Gelato while my friend tried the Chocolate S’mores. The Key Lime Graham Gelato, as seen in the photo below, tasted just like a gelato version of a Key Lime Pie.

The third booth attended was Baskin-Robbins, one of the most swamped booths at the entire Scooper Bowl. It was as if the little kids knew the flavors there were catered to them. After fighting for a place at the front, I grabbed two flavors from Baskin-Robbins: S’more the Merrier and Oreo Gold Rush. S’more the Merrier was a good blend of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham. However, Oreo Gold Rush rose above the rest of the flavors. A blend of the golden Oreo cookie pieces and lemon pudding flavored ice cream made this ice cream taste like a lemony flavored dream. This flavor was by far one of my favorites of the day, surpassing all the flavors tried that day.

After hitting up all of the vendors on one side of the Scooper Bowl, I then ventured over to the other side. For some reason, this side’s crowd consisted of significantly less children and more professionals in business attire sneaking out on their lunch break for a few scoops of ice cream.  On this side of the event there were the booths from Ben & Jerry’s, Edy’s, and Friendly’s.

The first thing that I noticed was that Friendly’s had their routine for this event down pat. There was no line in front of their booth and I quickly realized it was because they had servers go out into the crowds with their flavors instead of just having all the patrons line up in front of their booth. This was an incredibly smart move, which eliminated blockages of traffic to their booth. The flavor I consumed there was Hunka Chunka. Hunka Chunka was a delicious mix of caramel, nuts, caramel and chocolate cups, and sweet ice cream.

After Friendly’s I wandered over to Edy’s booth and got a flavor I rarely ever get, Orange Sherbert. This flavor was so delightful I claim it as my second favorite of the day. It tasted like the Creamsicles that I used to buy off of the neighborhood ice cream truck. Edy’s Orange Sherbert is a flavor I could see eating a whole bowl of without feeling too full after.

The final booth that was attended on that fateful Scooper Bowl day was Ben & Jerry’s. Although Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is one of my favorite brands, by this time in the ice cream quest my stomach was starting to yell at me for eating too much. I grabbed Late Night Snack and Bonnaroo Buzz. Both flavors were grabbed for very specific reasons: Late Night Snack because I had tried it the week before and fell in love, and Bonnaroo Buzz was chosen because a group of my close friends were there at the time. Late Night Snack is a delicious blend of vanilla ice cream, fudge covered potato chips, and caramel. Bonnaroo Buzz is a blend of malt and coffee flavored ice cream, caramel and whiskey swirl, and toffee chunks. When I tried my first spoonful of Bonnaroo Buzz I just thought how appropriate that it had alcohol flavoring in it given the name.

Shortly after the 3 spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, I waved my white flag in defeat and let the ice cream win for the day. A battle to be continued on another day when I felt less of a stomach ache.

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One of the things I enjoy about talking to  new people is learning about restaurants that were never on my radar before. Recently my sister came to town and we got together with a friend of hers who lives in Chicago–I’d met her before, but it’s been ages and I never got to know her very well. The occasion was a business school reunion for them, but I gather that some of their classmates are too health-conscious to be good eaters. So, on the morning before my sister left town, we decided to have a hearty breakfast near her friend’s place. We headed to Julius Meinl, on Southport Ave., a cafe that’s going to be my new favorite eating place in that area.

I didn’t realize at the time that Julius Meinl is a Viennese coffee purveyor, selling gourmet roasts in 70 countries. Heck, I just found that out now looking at the website. If I had, I would’ve ordered more drinks–the spiced chai cider, for example, or the peppermint mocha. As it is, I only tried the Earl Grey Vanilla Latte, which was very delicious, mild and flavorful and not too sweet.

As for the food–I regret that the bacon cinnamon roll was all out by the time we arrived that morning, so we got a regular cinnamon roll, which was quite good. Another dish we tried: Kaiserschmarren, which if you’ve never had it is basically bite-sized pieces of Austrian-style pancake with golden raisins, cinnamon, powdered sugar and Meinl preserves for dipping (we had a few different kinds of preserves, and they were all outstanding, in case you like that sort of thing).

Both my breakfast companions had baked egg dishes, and I may do the same next time. These are a bit like skillets, although in not quite such heavy portions. The oven-based eggs are offered in seven different combinations, with other ingredients mixed in, including chorizo, tomato, mushroom and feta; Rosti potato pancake, caramelized onions, Parmesan and truffle oil; smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill; and tomato, basil and goat cheese. This is all served with your choice of a really tasty piece of toast.

I had seafood crepes in a creamy green sauce. I can’t remember exactly what was in it and I think it was a special. It was good, although I’m wishing now I’d tried the Nutella crepes or the ham and brie crepes instead. Maybe next time. We also ordered Austrian mac and cheese, which, for someone who spends a lot of time cooking Kraft mac and cheese for her child, was a wonderful treat.

It happened to be Mother’s Day when we were there, and the restaurant was full of parents chasing their kids around. On a Sunday morning we had to wait 15 minutes or so for a table. We felt quite relaxed because we didn’t have kids with us, and I’m sure that added to our pleasure. It was really nice to be in such a comfortable cafe setting with a true European feel, both in terms of ambiance and food. I’d highly recommend this place to anyone, and I’m glad I discovered it myself.

My computer is still kaput, so I can’t provide any images, but I can point you to the website where you can see the restaurant for yourself:

Julius Meinl

3601 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60613

(773) 868-1857

northamerica.meinl.com/coffeehouse_southport/

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Sorry, no food porn today. My computer crashed last week, taking all of my pictures with it. I hate it when I actually remember to take pictures and then I can’t use them! I feel like such a failure.

Back in March a little Irish restaurant in the foodie mecca/suburb of Highwood invited me to come in and try a few dishes. I’ve actually been to Bridie McKenna’s before, for a political event hosted by a friend of my husband’s who was running for office. By the time we got there, all the food was gone. I did drink some Guinness, which seemed like what you were supposed to do at an Irish pub. Afterwards we had planned to visit our favorite Indian restaurant in the area, Curry Hut, but as we were leaving someone standing outside the restaurant next door, Alex’s Washington Gardens, enticed us in.  So I never did get to eat at Bridie McKenna’s during that visit.

It’s been a year or two since then. I have to admit that Irish food always looked comforting to me, but also fatty and not particularly exciting. Still, I’m always up for trying something new in culinary terms. So when Bridie McKenna invited me in for free food, how could I possibly refuse?

First, Bridie McKenna’s is quite charming. I like the green phone box outside, and I’m hoping that sometime before the next Ice Age we’ll have good enough weather to enjoy that cute little patio right outside. The place looks like it belongs on a little cobblestoned European street, and it features dark woods and lots of atmosphere inside, along with TVs at the bar where you can watch events like the royal wedding coming up this weekend. It features events like live music and dancing pretty regularly, and on Sunday we came here for Easter brunch (those white chocolate-covered strawberries from the buffet are my husband’s new favorite dessert).

Since there are certain Irish dishes I’d never tried, I opted for my first visit to immerse myself in authentic fare. I had fish pie, corned beef and cabbage, beef and Guinness stew, and something else that involved mashed potatoes and meat. I also tried my son’s fish and chips, which he absolutely loved. Wow, is Irish food heavy on the potatoes. I suppose I should have expected that.

I will admit that Irish food still isn’t my favorite–it’s heavy, and full of gravy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But the flavors are good, and can be very satisfying if you’re in the right mood. And Bridie’s does a fabulous job with traditional and iconic dishes like Shepard’s Pie (their spelling) and corned beef, which is lovely with mustard or horseradish sauce. That fish pie was extremely tasty. I wanted a full entree, not just the sample size.

Bridie McKenna’s also offers Irish beers like my husband’s favorite, Smithwicks. It’s owned by Irish people who know their stuff, and I hear it was a great place to watch the World Cup. So if you’re jonesin’ for a bit of Irish culture, this is a fine place to get it. I recommend it highly. And if I ever get access to my computer again, I’ll post some pictures of the delicious samples I tried there.

Bridie McKenna’s The North Shore Pub

254 Green Bay Rd., Highwood

(847) 432-3311

www.bridiemckennasirishpub.com

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A Mexican Oasis in Bucktown

Written by on April 12th, 2011

A week or so ago my family and I happened to be in Bucktown trying to get food. Specifically, we were hoping to go to Piece, the pizzeria owned by Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick. Not because I loved the band when I was 10, although I did, but because I’ve been trying to get here for ages. It was Saturday night, there were final four NCAA games on, and there was no chance we were going to get food for at least 45 minutes. We were hungry.

Enter Las Palmas. Yes, I know, there’s a chain in the Chicago area with eight suburban locations, called Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant & Bar. I rather like that Las Palmas, which some consider boring and I consider to be easy, inexpensive and decent. Especially since we get coupons every week in the mail and the margaritas are not bad at all. But this Las Palmas is a couple of steps above and beyond, an elegant oasis just a short walk away from the super-crowded, lively atmosphere at Piece.

We were seated in the back, a far cry from the bustle of North Ave. You can’t tell this from the front, but Las Palmas has this lovely glass-enclosed back area that leads out to a patio for use in the nicer months. It’s a very pleasant place to have a meal, with sunlight streaming in and bits of greenery, along with art pieces hanging on the walls.

Las Palmas is one of those restaurants that  brings out the big guacamole setup for preparation right at your table, although we didn’t actually do that since I live with two boys who don’t like avocados (sigh). My husband did, out of character for him, order me some nice fresh guacamole, though, which I was then able to take home and hoard all to myself.

There is a kid’s menu, and my son ordered a four-cheese and maraconi plate that he said was the best ever–but he’s a very enthusiastic kid and he says that about a lot of things. I tried some, though, and I can attest that it was quite good. It came with a few spears of asparagus and grilled carrots, which I mostly ate because my son is currently anti-vegetable (another sigh).

My husband and I both ordered vegetarian options, so that we could share (there’s also one vegan option on the list). I got the Enchayotadas, which are basically enchiladas stuffed with grilled chayotes, carrots, portobello mushrooms, and crispy corn chips in a creamy jalapeno-tomatillo salsa with Chihuahua cheese, crema Mexicana, queso añejo, and some mixed greens with a garlic vinaigrette.  I will say straight out that these are the best vegetarian enchiladas I’ve ever had. Wow, were they tasty. I have no idea what chayotes are, even to this day (Google is now telling me it’s a type of squash), but I’m in love.

My husband ordered the La Calabaza Rellena, an oven-roasted acorn squash stuffed with artichokes, peas, wild mushrooms, chile de árbol and a flavorful saffron risotto. I had a few bites, enough to be impressed, but I still liked my enchiladas better. He also had a margarita or two, a necessity when we visit a Mexican restaurant, and I have no complaints about that either.

Only my son was hungry enough afterwards to want dessert, so he chose a trio of sorbets. As I recall the flavors were guava, coconut and prickly pear–a nice combination, fresh and light and fruity. Yum.

One of my favorite things about Chicago is discovering new restaurants, so I’m happy we stumbled upon Las Palmas. The restaurant apparently serves up a fine Sunday brunch, so perhaps that will be our next trip here. I think this will become one of our favorites in the future, whenever we happen to be in the area. Unfortunately, Chicago has so many great eateries, it’s hard to limit yourself. I mean, fortunately.

Las Palmas Restaurant

1835 W. North Ave., Chicago

773.289.4991

laspalmaschicago.squarespace.com

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Enjoy French Ambiance at Bistro Bordeaux

Written by on March 29th, 2011

Like many Chicagoans in the last few months of winter, I’ve been in hibernation. Not necessarily on purpose–we took a vacation to Orlando in early February, and returned so sick from a cocktail of various ailments (the most serious of which was bronchitis), that we retreated to our house and didn’t come out unnecessarily for three more weeks.

Gary Cole once said, “I miss everything about Chicago except January and February.” And although as a big city there’s still plenty to do this time of year everywhere in this area, I would have to say there’s at least a modicum of truth to this sentiment, especially with the giant snows we had starting the very first few days of February.

But the return of March Madness lifts my spirits, especially since I’m a huge Kansas fan. Even though we lost on Sunday–mercifully, I missed the giant loss to VCU because I was at the Northlight Theater enjoying a lovely production of “Sense & Sensibility,” by this time I’m at least ready for spring.

Following the show, I visited my first new restaurant in what seemed like ages. My friend who accompanied me to the show wanted to try it, and I’m always game so I agreed. We visited a cute and elegant little restaurant called Bistro Bordeaux, which is right in downtown Evanston. Evanston, you may know, is the suburb just north of Chicago and home to Northwestern University. It’s one of the more interesting and urban suburbs, and accessible by the El on the purple line.

As soon as I entered the place seemed familiar. I used to visit the restaurant all the time several years ago when it was home to Mt. Everest, a favorite Indian food restaurant. Mt. Everest moved to a different space down the block, but I’ve always liked this little storefront better. There’s a certain elegance to it, dark woods and romantic lighting–it has always seemed very suitable for a date night or an intimate gathering with friends.

It’s been a really long time since I visited a French restaurant. In fact, I can’t even pinpoint the general year or season. Partially this is because my husband and I opt for more vegetarian-friendly foods when we go out together. Which is why I need to go out with my female friends more often. We started the meal off with crusty bread and softened butter, and my appetizer was escargot swimming in an herbed melted butter sauce. To me, the sauce makes the escargot and it was perfect. Escargot, I imagine, can get rubbery if not cooked well, but these little snails had a good texture and taste. My friend ordered pork terrine, which arrived with mustard and crostini and little miniature pickles (I think). It was very tasty as well. The appetizer menu also includes foie gras, soup of the day (celery root), a tarte of the day (like quiche) and oyster of the day.

My main dish was scallops with a Black truffle hollandaise sauce, featuring toasted almonds and French gream beans. The dish was called Coquille St Jacques Pôellées, Haricot Vert Amandine, Sauce Hollandaise Truffée (isn’t the Internet a great thing?). The scallops were extremely well-cooked and the truffle sauce creamy and full of flavor.  But I love French fries as well, so I ordered a side of the restaurant’s Pommes Frites with a garlic mayonnaise. These slim, crispy fries are cooked in beef tallow; they’re salty, skinny and delicious. I’d go back just for them.

My friend had the Aile de Raie Rotie à la Grenobloise et son Choux Fleur Caramelizé–that translates to roasted skate wing, caramelized cauliflower, capers, brioche croutons, little pieces of lemon suprême and a brown butter sauce. This was also very flavorful and yummy.

We took a wine recommendation from the waiter to go with our seafood meals, and shared a split of Champagne. I don’t for the life of me remember the names–I’m quite bad at that–but I do remember that the wine list, on the back page of the menu, was very well-done and comprehensive.

We had no room for dessert, which was fine, since I’m attempting to be healthier as part of my new year’s resolution. I’m one of those people who gain weight by looking at food. And I have to tell you–despite all the salty fries, the escargot in melted garlicky butter and the bread and butter that came with our meals, I somehow managed not to gain a single pound from that meal.

So, I can wholeheartedly recommend this place, if you’re looking for a romantic French meal. Entrees cost between $20 and $30; the Chateaubriand for two clocks in at just under $30 per person. I think we’re going back for Sunday brunch next. It sounds divine…

Bistro Bordeaux

618 Church St., Evanston, IL

www.lebistrobordeaux.com

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I spend quite a bit of time in the suburb of Oak Park this time of year, helping to organize the annual Wright Plus housewalk–a collection of private homes that are open to the public for one day, which include three from Frank Lloyd Wright. I love Oak Park, I’d move there if it was convenient. But it isn’t, so I have to settle for visiting. On my last visit, I found another reason  to love the place: the Bleeding Heart Bakery.

This little storefront serves what it calls “local, sustainable punk rock pastry.” I’ll be honest and say I don’t even remember the names of what I purchased there, but everything was good. More importantly, Bleeding Heart will – with a little bit of notice – take food allergies and such into account. This is important to me, since we recently discovered my son has a peanut allergy and I was just starting to realize how just walking in and buying stuff from bakeries, the way I’m used to doing it, is not going to work for him anymore.

I purchased this Groupon variety pack, which included a couple of cupcakes (although they were already out, by early mid-day, of my two favorites–red velvet and salt caramel), of which I picked carrot cake and vanilla with strawberry frosting (and a surprise–a strawberry center). These were heartier-tasting than some of the more delicate cupcakes I’ve had in the past from other Chicago purveyors, and really flavorful.

The pack also included some big brownies in different flavors, a chocolate chip cookie, a giant cookie with ginger bits inside that I don’t know what it was called except that it took me four days to eat it myself, and these crispy-on-the-outside, cakey-on-the-inside cake balls in different flavors. I think of them as something akin to donut holes, except better. Seriously. I have no idea what flavor the blue one was, but it was yummy.

I should note here that my kid, with his peanut allergy, couldn’t help me eat all this stuff, and my husband, whose idea of great bakery fare is the stale happy face cookie (and yes, it has to be stale or it doesn’t taste right to him) at White Hen Pantry, doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. So it took me days to eat all this stuff by myself. I didn’t mind at all.

If Bleeding Heart Bakery has a fault I’d say it tends to undercook so every once in a while you’ll get a pastry that’s just a tiny bit on the doughy side, which may be a result of the density of its products. But everything here is delicious, and hearty, and worth the price. I’d recommend this place–not just because of the great bakery items, but for a cute and quirky store that’s full of charm and personality and friendly folks.

Bleeding Heart Bakery
has two locations:
1010 North Blvd., Oak Park
(708) 358-0559
1955 W. Belmont, Roscoe Village
(773) 327-6934
www.thebleedingheartbakery.com

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