Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 9 - Perennial Virant

  The next two posts will feature 2 restaurants from the Boka Group Perennial Virant and Boka. As for Day 9 of my tour of restaurant week my bf and I visited Perennial Virant. Again delayed on my post from last month, but no worries it is Chicago Chef Week and there is still time to visit these restaurants.  Here is the dinner menu 3 courses for $39.  

  We entered the restaurant and received a warm welcome from the hostess.  As I scanned the room, I noticed the lighting was a little dim.  I told my bf that I may not be able to use my flash during dinner. Bummer!  

We were shown to our seats and sat in the middle of this beautiful rustic dining room. 

  Andy our server introduced himself and handed us a fabulous wine and cocktail list. We both ordered a glass of Grenache Syrah.  Andy also mentioned on top of the restaurant week selections there were extra sides you can order as well.  This is what we had for dinner. 

I used my flash for the next two photos and the rest I had to use natural light. The General Mgr Jason was nice enough to turn up the lights while I took pics. Thanks Jason! 


The fresh greens along with the pickled tomato vinaigrette was a great starter. Excellent salad!

Local Lettuces - pesto, fennel, radishes, kohlrabi, pickled tomato vinaigrette, whole grain croutons, chevre.

This is one of the Extra dishes we ordered. What a great choice!

I loved everything about this dish! The warm cheese curds and crispy rice with the vinaigrette was an excellent combination. The pickled beans was a great addition too.  Chef Virant is known for his preserving expertise. I actually sat in front of the jars of preserves and was so fascinated by it.   

Crispy Carnaroli Rice - brunkow cheese curds, sweet & smoky onion vinaigrette, pickled summer beans, pea shoots.  

The soup had a nice creamy consistency and I loved how he used a seasonal winter squash. Chef Virant is big advocate for utilizing local harvests. This was very delicious!

Genesis Growers Winter Squash Soup - Burton's maple whipped cream.

This is another Extras dish.

The gnocchi was excellent and mushrooms were flavorful. We both enjoyed this dish.

Crispy Parisienne Gnocchi - roasted river valley mushrooms, prairie fruits farm kaskaskia.


The fish was nicely seared and very tasty. The pepper sauce was a little overpowering, but the creamy polenta was delicious.  

Pan-Roasted Great Lakes Whitefish - creamy polenta, wilted greens, preserved sweet pepper sauce, house-cured olives.

The pork loin was outstanding and cooked to perfection. I loved the fresh veggies and especially the pickled beans. 

Grilled Slagel Family Farms Pork Loin - smashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, pickled bean vinaigrette, spicy mayonnaise.


This dessert was mediocre, nothing too special. The cake was a little dry, but I thought the coffee pastry cream and lemon confit went well with the cake. The presentation was beautiful though.  

Chocolate Boston Cream Pie - coffee pastry cream, meyer lemon confit.

I am a sucker for crepes, so I enjoyed it. It was yummy! 

Heritage Prairie Farms Rye Flour Crepes - caramelized apple compote, brown butter ice cream.

  Overall rating is 4.5 stars. The customer service was excellent. Thank you Jason for the hospitality!  I may take you up on your offer to come back during lunch, so I can take more pictures.  The dining room is absolutely gorgeous. I love the rustic decor, beautiful ceiling, and layout. The food was outstanding! I am very impressed with Chef Virant's creativity and his love for local harvests and preserves. I cannot wait go back and take advantage of their amazing patio. By the way, Chef Virant has a book release event on April 3rd celebrating his new book The Preservation Kitchen. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 8 Restaurant Week - Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar

  Union Sushi was Day 8 of my Restaurant Week tour from last month. I know I am so delayed on my post, but better late than never, right? Anyway, my girlfriends and I wanted to have a fun night downtown and since it is Lent we wanted some sushi. I was asking for suggestions from my friend Mindy (a day with lil mama stuart) and she mentioned Union Sushi. Thanks Mindy! 

  Our friends were already seated and told us that they had a few appetizers while waiting for us. They had the sashimi cup and loved it! We chitchatted for a bit before our waiter Shawn came by to take our orders.  We ordered from the Prix Fixe Dinner menu.  Here is what we ordered.


My girlfriends ordered a few hand rolls Crispy Smoked Salmon and Sea Urchin Hand Roll. They said it was great! (This is not included in the restaurant week menu.)

The mushrooms were marinated with the vinaigrette and it was good! The rest of the greens were very fresh and delicious. This was a very tasty salad. 

Mushroom Salad - shiitake, oyster mushroom, baby arugula, tomatoes, onion, pickled onion, and garlic-soy vinaigrette. 

This salad was fantastic!  The tempura and nappa cabbage added a very crunchy texture to the dish. The fresh ingredients and the spicy kick made this one of my favorite dishes.  Everyone enjoyed this dish too! 

Soba Salad - tempura enoki mushroom, nappa cabbage, tomato, red & yellow onion, chili pepper, cilantro, garlic oil & spicy ponzu

During appetizers, I asked our server if Chef Chao was available to come by our table.  A few minutes later he came by and spoke to us for a bit about the restaurant. He envisioned a casual and relaxed place and so he opened Union Sushi 7 months ago.  It was a true statement. The space is amazing, had a great atmosphere, very unique decor and great food. He also mentioned that he used to be the Chef at Sushi Wabi. Awesome! 

He stepped away for a sec and came back with this appetizer. Raw wagyu beef topped with green scallions and a splash of lemon juice. I know it was lent, but I could not resist. It was very soft and juicy, so mouthwatering!


I love Skate! It was well prepared, nicely seared, and seasoned. I also liked the simple presentation. 

Pan-Seared Skate - baby bak choy, grape tomatoes, chili threads, & miso butter.

Sushi Rolls 

My bf loves Dragon Rolls. But he said this was decent, nothing really special about both rolls. 

Dragon - spicy shrimp, eel, avocado, masago, green onion & eel sauce.

Rainbow - eel, hirame, tuna, cucumber, & avocado


My friends had this dessert and said it was wonderful!

Killer Yuzu Pie - coconut biscuit crust, fresh whipped cream. 

Loved the presentation! Ice cream is always a great dessert. 

Ice Cream Sundae Flight - green tea, red bean, vanilla 

Although I only had a few spoonfuls, this was amazing!  It was warm, had fabulous textures, and not too overly sweet. Great bold flavors! I know my bf loved it too since he ate most of it. It is definitely a must have! 

Black Rice Pudding - coconut milk and sesame.

A few more pics of the restaurant from the second floor. 

Robata Grill

Here are some happy customers! 

Chef Chao

  Overall rating is 4 stars.  I loved the restaurant layout, atmosphere, and very attentive service. Our server and Chef Chao made this a fabulous dining experience. The dishes were excellent and black rice pudding was a hit. I loved the simple and beautiful presentations. It was a great teaser, so I cannot wait to come back to try more of Chef Chao's creations. Chef Chao does offers a Chef's table on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays, so make your reservations now.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat 3.14.12

  We went to the Bulls vs Heat game this past Wednesday.  It was an awesome game! I was only able to take some Heat pics, since I was too busy cheering for the bench mob the first half. So this is for you Heat fans.  Enjoy!