Apr 232014

Tried dinner with the girls at Endgrain (1851 West Addison), and was treated to a tempting feast for the eyes and even better one for the tummy! Will need a return visit before crafting a proper review, but let me just say, the biscuits and jam? A thing of beauty. I weep for the years I’ve wasted eating inferior biscuits with sub-par jam — Endgrain, where have you been all my (breakfast-loving) life?

Speaking of breakfast, their famed doughnuts weren’t on the dinner menu because the pastries weren’t considered fresh enough to serve by that point in the day. Sad. No amount of wheedling would change our server’s mind. Guess that means I’ll need to dust myself off some morning and make the trek.

Is it bad form to eat breakfast AND dinner at the same restaurant in the same day? I’m tempted. What restaurant has tempted you?

Apr 202014

I made a return recently to Ay Ay Picante (4569 N Elston Avenue) for a quick meal. I’d forgotten just how much I love this neighborhood spot. And since the dishes are all humongous, it doesn’t cost much for a satisfying meal. My wallet loves that!

Tilapia | Ay Ay Picante

Peruvian ceviche is a complete meal.

There are many cultures represented in Peruvian cuisine, including Japanese, and nothing marries this mix of influences like a dish of Tiradito. Tiradito is a ceviche made with Peruvian spices, yellow peppers, lime juice, and thinly sliced tilapia. In other ceviches, the fish would be diced and loaded with onion and would omit the sweet potatoes that gives the dish a particularly Andean touch. So good!

I can’t eat here without loading up on starches and Ay Ay Picante has a delightful variety. I couldn’t choose between the sweetness of plantains or earthiness of fried yucca. So I got both. The salty savory tang of the accompanying dipping sauce gives way to a steady burn, baby, burn of chilies, making each bite an adventure.

The avocado was stuffed with a garlicky salad of carrots, peas, and more potatoes, and dotted along the top with salty olives. I had to wash it down with the bubble gum gush of Inca Kola. Though the drink didn’t kill the garlic, this corn soda was a decadent taste of Peru.

I had no room for an order of lomo saltado, but that gives me an excuse to return for the second half of my meal. Where have you “split the menu” into separate meals of appetizers and entrees?

Apr 182014
Bloody Mary Bar | Davanti Enoteca

Bloody Mary Bar

If you love Bloody Mary’s like I love Bloody Mary’s, then consider a visit to Davanti Enoteca (30 East Hubbard). Their massive Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar makes an appearance on Saturday and Sunday between 10am-3pm. It’s worth getting up early to go.

For only $10, you can build the drink of your dreams. Plan on spending more, however, because you’ll need at least two trips through the bar to overcome decision paralysis. Why? The bar comes with conceivable ingredient you could possibly put into a Bloody Mary.

Choose between jars of meat straws, carrot sticks, or bacon-wrapped asparagus, and then skewer as many peppers, tomatoes, stuffed and unstuffed olives, or cheese as you wish. The back of the bar is lined with too many hot sauces to name. You even have your choice of salt.

My Bloody Mary Masterpiece was loaded with spicy mix, shrimp, bleu-cheese stuffed olives, as many stalks of celery as I could stuff into the glass, and two dashes of bacon salt and hot sauce. I half-expected the glass to topple over!

Pecan Praline French Toast | Davanti Enoteca

Pecan Praline French Toast

You need a few items to nibble while enjoying the Bloody Mary, right? Davanti has a lengthy selection of brunch dishes to try.

Highlights of the menu included a savory Pork Belly and Potato Hash with soft poached eggs that added a runny umami quality. Paired with a full-on slab of Thick-cut Bacon, dotted with tomatoes, it’s guaranteed to complete your morning.

On the sweet side, the French Toast with cinnamon butter and a bourbon-infused maple syrup will satisfy, but don’t stop there — the Davanti staff can reach into Glazed & Infused‘s kitchen for your favorites. The Maple Bacon Long John should be something everyone tries once, though I’m a particular fan of the lowly Vanilla Bean Glazed Doughnuts and Apple Fritters.

Love coffee? Davanti serves their own blend from Sparrow Coffee. No matter how you take your coffee, this is an incredibly good cup from an amazing local roaster. I’ll see you there!

Enjoy more brunch…

I was not financially compensated for this post. Brunch was provided to me for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.