Apr 132014

I’ve paired a different craft beer with all 82 regular-season Blackhawks games! Have recommendations for a great playoff beer? Please share. Hopefully I’ll need a lot of suggestions.

On to the recaps…

Space | Half Acre Game 79 vs. Blues, 4-2 W

I tried Space, a seasonal offering from Half Acre Brewing, at their tap room and had to come home with a howler. With big, piney aromas, this beer opens big and delivers bright, citrus hops throughout. I enjoyed it to the end.

I also quite enjoyed the outcome of our final regular season match-up with St. Louis. The team beat our division rivals handily without Toews or Kane in the line-up, which leaves me feeling pretty good about the Blackhawks’ prospects going into the off-season.

If Hitchcock’s hissy fit in the presser was any indication, the Blues know it, too.

Dampf Loc Game 80 vs. Canadiens, 3-2 W

Dampf Loc poured out frothy with a nice yeasty aroma that held a bit of hops. I found the flavor to be bready with a slightly sweet and bitter aftertaste that wasn’t entirely pleasant. I’ve enjoyed other beers from Local Option better.

The outcome of this match-up with the Canadiens, however, was entirely acceptable. Especially the win in overtime — the first of the entire season. We will need this new found skill in the playoffs.

Galactica | Clown Shoes
Game 81 vs. Capitals, 4-0 L

I tried Galactica from Clown Shoes only partly because the name amused the hell out of me, but mostly because I’d drank all the other titles off the beer menu at Endgrain. So it goes. But I’m very glad the bartender had this brew when I pushed him for something different.

Galatica is technically an IPA, though I didn’t find it as hop-forward as I like. More malty though not too sweet, and with a pleasant amount of carbonation. Based on this, I’m interested in trying more from this brewery.

Unfortunately, my dinner plans prevented me from watching the game in real time, and I heard the score before I settled in to watch. I may have fast-forwarded through bits. Like most fans, I tell myself that players were playing not to get hurt before the post-season. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the story.

Guest | Half Acre Game 82 vs. Predators, 7-5 L

Guest Lager is an aptly named collaboration beer between Mikkeller and Half Acre that’s only available in extremely limited quantities. In fact, you may only be able to try the last dregs at the Tap Room. If you’re lucky.

I’m glad I gave it a chance because this beer is amazing. Pungent grapefruit and citrus notes wallop the nose, while the flavor reveals of touch of fruit before coating the tongue with the bitter resin of hops. I love how light and drinkable this beer is given the 8% ABV. Too bad I can’t have any more.

With this loss to the Predators, the Blackhawks end the season with a record of 46-21-15. This was an odd game, and the only thing I want to dwell on is Marian Hossa’s 30th goal. Hoss took the puck from one end of the ice to the other, danced around the D for a wrap-around goal in a graceful demonstration of dominance and beauty. It was stunning.

Seems we’re playing the Blues in the first round. I’ll hoist a pint on Thursday to cheer the Hawks on to victory in the playoffs. I hope you’ll join me!

Apr 062014

TÊTE Charcuterie (1114 W Randolph Street) officially opened for business in the Meat Packing District. Which is fitting, given their menu of house cured saucissons, composed fresh sausages, terrines, and pâtés. I popped in for a few bites during their soft launch party to sample the goods.

Is Randolph street’s newest restaurant worth seeking out?

Ham  | Tete Charcuterie

Piles of paper-thin ham slices await.

The Meat of the matter…

A few salads aside, the menu focuses exclusively on skillfully prepared and artfully plated cured meats. The waitstaff highly recommended the Germany sausage, a mild brautwurst served with vinegary peppers and grainy mustard. Each forkful delivered a balance of flavorful pork and pickled tang, and the smallish serving left me with an appetite for more.

The Pork Belly Rillons were a highlight as well. The smoked bacon was a feast of fatty textures, while the XO sauce mixed a wallop of heat with crunchy meat bits. I carefully spread one on the other as savored each bite.

Notable passed items included a mild Mortadella — a bologna dotted with pistachios and infused with white wine, the Duck Pâté, and the house-made gerkins. Of everything I tried, I would go back for more of the perfectly seasoned American Hot Dog, the epitome of encased meat. It’s great to see restaurants do the simple things well.

Germany Sausage | Tete Charcuterie

The German Sausage was worth the splurge.

I’ll drink to that…

TÊTE Charcuterie has a respectable beer and wine list, but I was intrigued by the cocktails and the near-sighted mix-master working the bar. I ordered a Tete A TÊTE made with gin, bitters and sparkling wine, and watched this gentleman squint as he poured out each measure. Simply fantastic. Each sip cut through the flavorful noise of charcuterie, making this drink a perfect companion for a meaty meal. I wanted more.

The Two-Three Days and Enhhhhhh each featured a sweeter approach to balancing the palate, but proved awkward to order in the booming space. However, the names were the only complaint I had — each drink was delicious. If you like vodka, watch as they construct a Jackson Blues with green tea, lemon and sparkling wine. Tasty.

Prepping | Tete Charcuterie

The painstaking work that goes into salad.

I think TÊTE Charcuterie is worth seeking out. With a superb selection of charcuterie, tapas-sized plates, and convivial cocktails, they are set to make a mark on the Randolph restaurant corridor. Make plans to go before its over-run with hungry fans of swine, beer, and game.

Enjoy more…

I was not financially compensated for this post. Access was granted to me as a member of the media. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Apr 062014
Omelet Station | Devon Seafood Restaurant

They’ll throw crab meat into your made-to-order omelet.

Devon Seafood Grill (39 East Chicago Avenue) invited me to check out their new brunch offering, now available on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet for a fixed price of $45/adult, $16/child under 12. Drinks, including brunch cocktails, coffee, or choices from the extensive wine list, are extra.

If you plan to go for Easter Brunch, there’s a special menu for that particular Sunday.

Crabs | Devon Seafood Restaurant

Crab legs are included in the buffet.

Items that might not normally expect to see at brunch include a chilled seafood display featuring smoked trout, oysters on the half shell, sushi, and shrimp cocktail. Each seafood item seemed to have its own sauce or accompaniment choice, so you could mix and match taste sensations to your heart’s content. I zeroed in on the char crusted Ahi tuna with a little pickled ginger and didn’t look back. There’s also a chef-service station for deletable Steamed Alaskan Red King Crab Legs, if you have a mind to crack some shells.

Though Devon is known for their seafood, I thought the standard breakfast items were particularly well done. I filled up a couple of times on the homemade granola with yogurt and fresh mix of juicy blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. The pastries were flakey, sweet — much better than I expected, as were the biscuit and gravy.

Chocolate Tarts | Devon Seafood Restaurant

Chocolate Tarts are one of the many desserts.

If you crave more savory lunch items, then load up on the lobster macaroni and cheese or crab cake stuffed mushrooms. Or go for the more traditional salads, cheeses, or chicken. Though you may have eaten too much, browse the dessert table for a panna cotta or key lime tart. They’re worth the splurge in calories.

Devon is a great place to stop in for brunch if you’re headed to the Mag Mile for a day of shopping, or if you just happen to be in the neighborhood. The only downside? Their tasty and dangerously addicting cheese biscuits weren’t on the brunch menu, which means you’ll need to go back for dinner, too.

Enjoy more of 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.