Thursday, May 28, 2015

Taste on Chestnut offers Sunday Brunch

This spring there was a new addition to the fabulous Taste on Chestnut's menu ~ a Sunday brunch launch. The weekly Sunday brunch at this beautiful spot in downtown Winnetka is a relaxing and intimate setting to enjoy a variety of upscale options without having to head into the city. 

The 'uptempo' American restaurant has brunch service available on Sundays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Guests can choose from an artistically displayed buffet or a creatively crafted à la carte menu. 

Taste on Chestnut’s brunch buffet includes a chef attended omelet station at the open kitchen bar, a create-your-own waffle station, house cured salmon display, specialty breakfast breads, fresh salads and fruits, yogurts and more, for $19.95+ for adults and $14.95 for children 12 and under. 

The a la carte brunch menu includes breakfast favorites such as traditional Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce; buttermilk pancakes with savory syrup and fresh berries, skirt steak and eggs, Chestnut skillet with country eggs and such appetizing sides as asparagus, fingerling potatoes, turkey bacon and provolone, and fresh specialty salads, including the famous Chinois salad.

A make-your-own Bloody Mary bar can be added, starting at $10. 

“Brunch continues to grow in popularity and has become the go-to get together on weekend afternoons for family and friends. I want to provide that opportunity for my guests,” says Chef/Owner Steve Leviton, who has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of the food industry. 

The eatery is known for its innovative and visually stunning dishes. Take a look at my post on the opening earlier this year and you'll see what I mean when I say innovative and visually stunning!

Regular dining hours are:

Mon-Fri lunch, 11:30am-2pm 
Mon-Thurs dinner, 5-9pm 
Fri-Sat 5-10 
Sunday brunch 10am-2pm

Taste on Chestnut
505 Chestnut Street
Winnetka, Illinois

For reservations, visit or call 847.441-0134.

Victory releases next in line for Moving Parts Series

Craft brew fans will be excited to learn that the newest incarnation in Victory Brewing's IPA series, Moving Parts 04, is now available across the country. The first in the series debuted in the fall of 2014. The new batch features Citra, Mosaic and recently developed Mandarina whole flower hops for a touch of citrus intertwined with the robust wheat flavor. The new version will be sold in 22 ounce bottles and on draft at the coolest of craft beer bars.

“We see an amber bottle like some might see a blank canvas, piece of pristine marble or an empty stage,” said Victory’s President and Brewmaster, Bill Covaleski. “This series encourages all of us to push the envelope, challenge the traditional, and revel in possibilities. The appreciation of the art, growth through the innovation andrespect for the journey leads us all to victory, an ever evolving cycle of experimentation.”

Available in 36 states, download the free Victory Mobile app for more information on where to find Moving Parts 04.

Check out new four-course summer menu at Morton's the Steakhouse

As we move into the summer season, it's not all about toes in the sand, swimsuits and basking in the hot sun. Summer also means a new crop of seasonal specialties and there's no better place to get a taste of summer than at Morton's the Steakhouse. A new four-course menu includes a lovely sampling of summer flavor. Proscuitto wrapped mozzarella. Shrimp scampi capellini. Honey-chili glazed salmon. The special four course meal is only here through June 26. It's $49 for the four course feast.

Here's what you can choose from:

Ahi Tuna Tower
Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella
Baked Five Onion Soup

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad
Chopped Spinach Salad
Morton’s Salad
Caesar Salad

6 oz. Filet Mignon
Honey-Chili Glazed Salmon
Chicken Bianco
Chicken Christopher
Shrimp Scampi Capellini
Choice of Side: Garlic Green Beans, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes or Creamed Spinach

Individual Soufflé
Key Lime Pie
Chocolate Mousse

If you aren't familiar with Morton's, the premium steakhouse opened its first location in Chicago in 1978. It has now grown to have over 70 locations around the world. Along with its two Chicago locations (including the original one), you'll find Morton's the Steakhouse in Rosemont, Naperville, Northbrook and Schaumburg. It is part of Landry's, Inc. Restaurant Group. Go to for more information.

From the inbox: Chef pens cookbook on bone broth soups

Here's some info that showed up in my e-mail this week. Chef, Nutritionist and Health + Wellness expert Ariane Resnick just released her first cookbook, The Bone Broth Miracle. It was also noted that it is Lyme Disease Month and Ariane is a survivor of late state Lyme which is she cured holistically and can speak to her experience in hopes to help guide others to recover. That really caught my eye as a dear family friend died of health complications after fighting Lyme Disease. Read on for a little more on Resnick and the new book.

image001What was once known as your grandmother’s miracle cure for a cold or the flu is now the most popular food trend. The oldest of recipes dating back to prehistoric times and one of the cornerstones of the Paleo Diet, bone broth is made from the flavors of vegetables, herbs, and spices and the boiled bones of poultry, fish, or beef. Ariane Resnick has put together an incredible history of this mineral-rich liquid which has been praised for its gifts of immune support, digestive health, and joint strength along with beauty-enhancing qualities of strengthening hair and nails and reducing acne-causing inflammation.

The Bone Broth Miracle details everything you need to know about the many health benefits of this miracle soup. Along with information about the history and varieties of broth, this book also contains forty-nine easy-to-follow recipes for Brocktails, soups and tonics you can incorporate into your daily dose of nutrients: calcium, amino acids, collagen, magnesium, potassium, and minerals, among others. Once you’re able to prepare your own broth, you’ll join thousands of others worldwide who have fallen in love with that clear, bright flavor that only comes from high-quality and fresh ingredients.

About Chef + Nutritionist Ariane Resnick:
Ariane Resnick is a private chef, certified nutritionist and health/wellness expert who specializes in organic farm-to-table cuisine and creates indulgent, seemingly “normal” food out of impeccably clean, whole food ingredients. She has cooked for celebrities that include Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Matt Groening, Lisa Edelstein and Jeff Franklin, and has been featured in media outlets and on Food Network’s “Chopped.” She is also a survivor of late stage Lyme Disease and chemical poisoning, and recovered holistically from both. When not crafting beautifully presented tasty dishes that accommodate just about any dietary restriction, Resnick consults clients and chefs on wellness, nutrition, and provides hands-on instruction for simple ways to cook more healthfully. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sweet Tomatoes

The Chicago Foodie Sisters got invited to a recent "Discover Fresh" tasting at the Aurora location to get a sneak peek of upcoming menu items and get a look at all the farm fresh option at the buffet restaurant chain that has over 120 locations across the country.

At top is the popular Big Chunk Chicken Noodle Soup, and moving downward, the Cream of Mushroom Soup (available one week per month) and the limited-time May special recipe of Albondigas Locas.

So, Becky and I headed out for lunch ready to try out the many soup and salad options and see what else was waiting. Becky had been to Sweet Tomatoes on a couple previous occasions, but not in recent months and for me it was my first visit. I've had it on my long list of places to try ever since my hair stylist, Dana, recommended it. She said that she visited the Aurora location when her daughters had sporting events in the area. Becky and I are fans of soups and salads, so I was certain there would be a lot we would like.

We got a little overview as we walked in about the San Diego based company that has been doing "Farm to Fork" from the very beginning. The entrance opens right into the buffet, so you simply grab a tray and plate and start picking out what you like. Green-based alads are tossed every 20 minutes to ensure that the lettuce is fresh and there's plenty there. Wonton Happiness and Caesar Asiago are two of the ongoing offerings and then there are limited-time recipes, as well. Several of the dressings are house-made. The potato salad features fresh herbs.

Everything is replenished frequently, so it was all fresh and crisp and the salad bar area was very clean. One thing you don't want to pass up as you go down the line are the dill pickles made in California by County Fair Pickles.

Among the prepared salads are the popular Tuna Tarragon and Joan's Broccoli Madness. They are always on the menu with two more rotating salads, all made at the central kitchen in Chicago (the company has 17 in all across the country.) All baking is done on site.

The beverage options are many including four lemonades. The fresh strawberry lemonade is super refreshing. Hot teas and coffee are also available.

After you make your way through the salad bar, you pay for your meal, which will run you $9.29 for a weekday lunch, $9.59 for a weekend lunch and $11.29 for dinner and $3.99 for a child ages 3 - 6 (with milk or juice included.)  An unlimited beverage is an additional $2.49. Then you move on to the pastas, soups, flatbreads and desserts.

A row of soups await you and there is always at least one vegan option in the bunch. If you are a fan of chicken noodle soup, I highly recommend a visit. This may very well be the best chicken noodle soup I have ever tasted! The noodles, which cook in the broth, come from a company that started 43 years ago with a couple college guys making their own noodles. They've been supplying Sweet Tomatoes locations with noodles for more than 20 years now. The simple recipe includes just flour, egg, water, milk and salt. No ingredients you can't pronounce, just simple and pure - the way food is meant to be made. The noodles are light, yet plump and kind of reminded me of the dumplings our mom made when we were younger. Oh, and then there a HUGE chunks of white meat. Just super, duper yummy! Next time someone in your family is feeling under the weather, head over to Sweet Tomatoes for a container of Big Chunk Chicken Soup to go. They'll feel better in a jiffy. Becky and I both agreed that it was our very favorite item we had that day.

Among the other soup options (8 in total) while we were there were the Chicken Jalapeño Tortilla and the Albondigas Locas, a popular Mexican soup that includes chicken meatballs that was making an appearance in May for Cinco de Mayo. The Cream of Mushroom has been so highly requested that it shows up every month for a week to keep the clamoring masses happy. Big Chunk Chicken Soup and Deep Kettle House Chili are always on the menu.

Moving along you'll find foccacia breads that are similar to a flatbread pizza. Quattro Formaggio and Cheesy Garlic are standard flavors along with some rotating ones, like the Tomatillo Foccacio which was also featured for Cinco de Mayo.

The fresh strawberry muffins will soon be added to the menu at Sweet Tomatoes.
Among the baked sweet treats were muffins: blueberry, chocolate chip and buttermilk cornbread were on the menu that day. We also got to try out the strawberry muffins before they made it into the rotation and they were spectacular! Oh, and don't pass up the sourdough bread and be sure to slather it up with the honey butter.

Pastas are refreshed every half hour (or sooner) and the popular mac and cheese is a regular item. Among the others were tried were Roasted Egglpant Marinara, Creme Cilantro and Lime Pesto. Each one was delicious.

Oh, and there is also a baked potato bar. Love that idea. Can't say I had room to try it, but who doesn't love a big loaded spud?

The dessert bar no longer includes nuts, so those with allergies can indulge without worry. Soft serve ice cream can be dished out or you can do it Chicago Foodie Sister-style and grab a brownie, top it with ice cream then add some chocolate syrup and caramel. Or there are the most adorable little cones that are just the right size after you'll filled up on the healthy stuff.
We appreciated how well marked everything is, so that if you aren't quite sure, you can just peek at the label. 

Overall, I loved how fresh everything was and how there were many options, but they were ones you didn't feel guilty about. A lot of buffets have items that sit under heat lamps for who knows how long drenched in fatty gravy or thick sauces. While you could still consume a little meat via the soups, much of what is offered is on the lighter side, yet you definitely won't walk out hungry. And there's definitely something to please anyone. Seems to be a great kid-friendly place to take little ones who graze or who are stuck on mac and cheese or pizza and can fill up on those. My only regret about trying Sweet Tomatoes is that the closest location to me is about 45-minutes away and I can't stop craving that chicken soup. It's definitely worth a stop, though, and the sisters may have to make a lunch date soon to revisit. (Psssttt...Northwest Indiana could definitely use a Sweet Tomatoes location!) 

Chicagoland locations include Aurora, Glenview, Lombard, St. Charles, Waukegan and Schaumburg. Visit for more details. Oh, and be sure to peek online before you go for limited time dishes and the current soup line-up.

A To-Go station is at the entrance where you can grab a container, fill it up and quickly be on your way. Great way to grab a healthy dinner when you are busy or grab some soup for someone who is under the weather.

**Disclosure: A complimentary meal was provided. Opinions are my own.

Friday, May 22, 2015

LongHorn Grilling Hotline available this weekend

**Disclosure: As part of my blogger relationship with LongHorn Steakhouse on the #GrillHero campaign, I received compensation in the form of a gift card. All opinions are my own.

Ok, so you head out to the grill to get cooking on this long weekend. Maybe you're new to grilling or just rusty after the lack of use over the long, long winter we had in Chicago. You're not sure of the best temperature to cook your chicken. Or the best method for making your ribs. Or the best way to season your pork chops. Or how to get that steak to a perfect medium rare. Or what vegetables cook well on the grill.

LognHorn's Grill Us Hotline is open for the weekend so that you can get all your grilling questions answered by the experts. You can utilize the hotline by phone at 1-855-LH-GRILL or by text at LHGRILL to 40679 (standard texting rates apply.) Also, use the #GrillHero hashtag for any posts this weekend (or this summer grilling season!) about what you're up to at your grill.

The lines are now open! You can call today, Saturday and Sunday between noon and 5 p.m. ET.

So, if there's anything you've ever wanted to know about grilling, now is your chance to get some answers from some grilling professionals. Wishing you all a great weekend full of good eats and don't forget to thank a veteran and remember those who didn't make it home as we head into Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Giordano's opens today at Navy Pier

Pizza lovers who like to hang out at "The Pier" (Navy Pier, that is) can rejoice as a piece of Chicago's famous food culture - the legendary Giordano's Famous Stuffed Pizza officially opens today at that site. This is the 51st location for Giordano's and is located on the north side of the pier's main entrance. There's also an outdoor patio space so that you can enjoy that big slice of heaven while gazing out at the great city of Chicago.

But wait...there's more good news. :) If you don't have time for a sit-down meal, you can still enjoy this slice of Chicago from a new grab-and-go kiosk alongside the pier's outdoor entry point at the promenade. It's a great, convenient way to have good eats without slowing down. Enjoy your pizza as you walk the length of the pier and take in the beauty of the lake and the skyline. At the kiosks you can get 6-inch individual stuffed pizzas from a built-in oven. It's near the entrance of the pier by the car drop off and will be open during regular pier hours. Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Toast & Jam open in Schererville, IN

From the inbox today - Good news! It looks like there's a new breakfast and lunch place to choose from when you hop over the border into Indiana.

Start the day out right with Toast & Jam

New breakfast and lunch restaurant now open in Schererville

Schererville, Ind. (May 20, 2015) - Toast & Jam Breakfast & Lunch Café in Schererville has opened its doors and is serving breakfast and lunch daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Toast & Jam will be hosting its grand opening the first week of June, which will feature many fun events and happenings.

Breathing new life into the building that formerly housed Kelsey’s Steakhouse, Toast & Jam hired the interior design team of Mixdesign, Inc. to create fresh new custom décor features utilizing antique toasters, mason jar light fixtures to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The café offers guests homemade meals featuring breakfast and lunch classics, as well as specialty menu items such as Mediterranean strata and Cajun chicken mac and cheese.

Owners Nick Karounos and Sam Cappas are excited to open this new venture in Schererville.

“We have been very pleased with the support that we have received from the community. Schererville is a vibrant and growing town and we are proud to be a part of it. We look forward to serving our guests delicious food and making them feel at home,” said Cappas.

Toast & Jam features two separate spaces for guests to enjoy. The “Toast” side of the café is the perfect place to savor breakfast or lunch. The “Jam” room is available for special events and parties, seating up to 80 people. Guests of the “Jam” room can enjoy a private bar, large presentation TV and king’s table, and choose delicious fare from a custom menu.

Located at 7311 Mallard Lane in Schererville, Toast & Jam Breakfast & Lunch Café is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit or call 219-769-0000.

Famous Dave's Party on the Patio this weekend with free buffet

Well, we are gearing up for the first official weekend of the summer season! Famous Dave's is a great place to relax and enjoy the long weekend and they have some fun plans that even include a free buffet.

Who doesn't love Famous Dave's? I'm a big fan and it's funny - I have a niece who had gone to Japan to teach for a year, met a nice Australian fellow, married him and had two kids and when they came to the U.S. for a visit last summer, her husband Alex's first food request was some good barbecue from Famous Dave's.

Last year I attended a grand re-opening of the location in Bolingbrook and had the opportunity to try out many of their great new small bites bar menu options. There's absolutely something to please everyone.

Another cute story about Famous Dave's I have to share. Last August, my niece Kelly and I went to Chicago Gourmet and as I was leaving Millennium Park to head to the train station, I see Famous Dave himself sitting on a bench waiting for his ride. I'd seen him earlier inside one of the tents, but the line was long and we were headed to another scheduled event, so we didn't get a chance to talk to him.

I wasn't sure if he'd want to be bothered after a long, hot day at the event, but I couldn't help myself. "Hi, Famous Dave!" I said as I walked by. Well, he was in the mood to chat. He talked about his Native American roots and his fond memories of the time he lived in Chicago. He was the nicest guy. He even grabbed my plate from the fest and went to town with a Sharpie and I got this sweet souvenir. He's quite the artist!

So, anyway...back to the Memorial Day weekend stuff going on at Famous Dave's. This info was sent to me about the festivities that start on Thursday and run through Sunday. If you haven't been to Famous Dave's lately, get on over there this weekend and enjoy some time on the patio with a drink and some bites. There's a chance to win raffle prizes, too!


Chicago has two seasons, winter and patio season! Famous Dave's is launching the official start to summer with a weekend long bash at four of their Chicagoland locations (Addison, Bolingbrook, Orland Park and Oswego). The festivities kick off Thursday, May 21 - Sunday May 24, everyday from 4pm - 9pm. The festivities will include drink specials; raffle prizes and a free buffet from 4pm - 6pm. Guests can jam out to live music at Bolingbrook, Orland Park and Oswego locations. Fresh air included at no extra charge! 

Burger with Nitro Milk Stout grilled onions

One nice topping for burgers is onions. Some like them raw, some like them grilled. And when they are grilled, soaking them in beer is the way to go. The latest batch of burgers went on the grill and beside them was a foil pan filled with sliced onions, a couple pats of butter and a bottle of Left Hand Brewing's Nirto Milk Stout. It was a great addition to the beef patty topped with Muenster cheese, pickle slices, lettuce, tomato and bruschetta topping.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Journeyman Distillery: Three Oaks, Michigan

I've written before about how much we enjoy spending time in Three Oaks, Michigan. From where I live it's only an hour away, even less than that if traffic is good and you drive a little fast - not that I do that. :) You drive by open fields and farm land once you are off of I-94, so it has that appeal of being off the beaten path. However, once you get there there are some spots that are so cool and chic, you feel like you are in downtown Chicago. So, really it's the best of both worlds. The downtown main street is quaint with some little cafes and shops, an independent movie theatre, a library housed in a cool, historic building, a Civil-war era meat shop, a brewery - and just off the main street is the Journeyman Distillery. It's housed in a historic factory that in many other locations likely would have been demolished. It's been converted into several business - the Acorn Theatre where live theatre shows take place (it also houses a little gift shop with wines), a garden and antique shop and the Journeyman Distillery. 

In converting the space into a distillery, it kept elements that are reminiscent of a century ago - like weathered bricks on the walls, yet it's added sleek modern touches and there's a wall of windows where you can peek in at where all the magic happens. 

Sometimes when we are hanging in town, we make a stop there after lunch for a drink (they make an awesome Moscow Mule, if that's your thing!) On our most recent stop, we tried a Smoking Peach and also tried out a flight. I love sampling, so the flight seemed a good option. And yeah, I was reminded of why I don't drink whiskey and bourbon and all that stuff straight (simply put, I'm a lightweight and need something tamer, sweeter and fruitier), but I did find something I am a huge fan of - Old Country Goodness, a.k.a. O.C.G. It's like sipping on some very sweet apple cider and something that could easily get you in trouble because it's so smooth.

Anyway, I've only been to Journeyman on our daytime stops when things are pretty laid back and quiet. The venue is also available for private events (what a cool spot for a small wedding!) and they occasionally have live entertainment. There are also a number of goodies in the gift shop. If you find yourself in the area, stop by there for a drink...or two!

Journeyman Distillery

109 Generation Drive
Three Oaks, MI