Archive for the tag “Logan Square”

Irazú

WHAT: Irazú
WHERE: 1865 N. Milwaukee Ave.

OUR RATING: Do It!

Picture 24Named after the mighty Irazú Volcano in Costa Rica, this lively, spirited and eclectic restaurant allows you to enjoy the unique cuisine from this little sampled country in Central America. Flavourful, mild and lots of fruits and vegetables clearly mark these dishes out as deriving from the lush rainforests of that country, which houses an astonishing 5% of the world’s biodiversity, while being only 0.25% of the Earth’s landmass.

With a colourful and light-filled interior and exciting buzz, you’ll be just itching to try to many rare delicacies that come at phenomenally reasonable prices.

Picture 26Adam: Locked between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultures, with a good dose of Spanish colonialism mixed in, Costa Rica (literally Rich Coast) is most certainly true to its name when it comes to food and Irazú provides all the bounty that this nation has to offer. Brought straight to your table and served casually, steaming plates of traditional foods whirl in, with all the colour and verve of this canopied country.

Casado with tilapia

The menu is vast, offering breakfast items, appetizers, vegetarian options, tacos, empanadas, burritos, sandwiches and even shakes. The forefront of the menu, however, are the Costa Rican dinners. Being in the mood to try the most authentic dish on the menu, I opted for the Casado, a traditional full-plate meal.

Casado with steak

Choosing from steak, chicken or tilapia, you can really appreciate the full force of this diverse cuisine through this dish. I went with steak and was not disappointed. A heaping portion served with black beans, sweet plantains, a cabbage salad, rice and an over easy egg to top it all off, the portion was very large and I felt truly stuffed when finished. I actually had my meal upgraded to include gallo pinto instead of rice, a mixture of rice and beans which is exclusive to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Watch out though: they won’t tell you this upgrade costs a buck when they offer it, although it’s worth all one hundred cents.

Potato Tacos

Alicia: One of the many things I love about Irazú is how vegetarian friendly they are. Some of the guests we went out to dinner with ordered the restaurant’s famed potato tacos: crispy corn tortillas filled with mashed potatoes (flauta-esque) and served with guacamole and mole sauce. The dish was gigantic, and also served with yellow rice, beans, deliciously cooked sweet plantains and a cabbage salad. Beware: the mole is not vegetarian, but it’s possibly one of the most delicious moles I have had in the city.

Avena Shake

What I wanted to try more than anything was Irazú’s Avena (Oatmeal) shake made with milk, which was the most deliciously complex consistency with beautiful hints of cinnamon. It was sweet and savory and an entire meal in itself, so I’m glad I only ordered a salad to go with it. They have a ton of other interesting shake flavors, including Pinolillo (Corn Meal) and Tamarindo. Definitely an adventure for the tastebuds!

Palmito Salad

Oh, and by salad, I don’t mean just any ordinary salad. I ordered a large (and boy was it large) Palmito Salad: Heart of palm steaks on a bed of cabbage slaw, tossed with beets, avocado, tomato, radishes, cilantro, splashed with vinegar, lime and olive oil. The salad was perfectly dressed and the dish in its entirety was a refreshing and adventurous journey. The vinegar and lime cut through the hearty heart of palm steaks and the slaw provided a fun crunch with every bite. I would order this dish again in a minute, but it’s imperative you go with someone else so you can steal a few of their delicious sweet plantains.

Picture 25Final Thoughts: In a meal that’s like a rainforest on a plate, without any of the more slippery animals, Irazú immerses you in the warm embrace of the jungle. Excellent portion sizes at good prices, this BYOB (no corkage fee!) is a particular Chicago experience you can’t miss.

Katherine Anne Confections

WHAT: Katherine Anne Confections
WHERE: 2745 W. Armitage Ave.

OUR RATING: Do It!

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

Truffles, caramels, gourmet marshmallows, oh my! Storefront City sampled a few delicacies at Logan Square’s Katherine Anne Confections. Katherine Anne has been creating her own confections at this location since 2006, and while it’s been on Chicago’s radar for awhile, it was just nominated this year for Time Out Chicago‘s Best Sweet Shop 2013 and Katherine Anne herself was just nominated as one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30, so we were super excited to see what makes this place so hot.

Adam:

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Truffle

If you’ve been a longtime reader of Storefront City, you’ll know by now that I’m completely into history. So perhaps it was the name of the Mayan Cherry Truffle that just said “Adam, this is for you”, or perhaps it was just because I like dark chocolate and spice. A MI tart cherry centre is infused with cayenne and habanero and enwrapped in a dark chocolate outside that completes this gem. Spicy and tart, it is the perfect adult sweet and is certainly true to its bloody Mayan heritage.

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Marshmallow

Like many fantastic modern inventions, marshmallows originated in ancient Egypt, when the sap of the marshmallow plant was mixed with nuts and sweets to treat sore throats. Obviously, the Pharaohs decided that it far too tasty to be merely a medicine and promoted it to a confection which we still enjoy today. Katherine Anne’s Coffee Marshmallow marries this Egyptian sweet with the Ethiopian coffee from further south, to produce a spongy delectable morsel that you will quickly finish. While slightly less powerful in flavor than expected, I imagine that this would make a nice complement to any after dinner get together.

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Caramel

Wonderful caramel – chewy and long-lasting, they finish most meals better than a mint would. So try the Fleur de Sel Caramel: a soft honey vanilla caramel covered in 72% cacao bittersweet chocolate and lovingly touched with a few grains of French sea salt, one of the finest varieties to be had. With a cushioned texture, botanical flavor and salty aftertaste, this is one of their bestsellers, and one can see why.

Alicia:

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Truffle

It was the cashew that drew me into sampling the Cascara Truffle. It’s made with cascara, the husk from the coffee bean with notes of fruit & coffee; paired with dried huckleberries from Rare Tea Cellar Inc., toasted fresh chevre, and cascara-candied cashews. Honestly, the truffle was a bit one-noted despite the complexity in its creation. Only afterwards upon investigation did I discover that cascara is known for its laxative properties and has some precautions upon consuming…so if you’re pregnant or have problems with your kidney or appendix and the like, you may want to avoid this one.

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Marshmallow

What better way to get your drink on than to infuse a marshmallow with some bubbly? The Champagne Marshmallow is pretty subtle, but you can still taste that sparkling wine in there somewhere. Perhaps not the most flavorful, but how elegant and fun!

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

The Caramel

I am the biggest fan of using rosemary and sea salt when cooking, so when I spotted the Rosemary Sea Salt Caramel, I was definitely excited to mix some sweetness into the equation. And boy was this one a winner! A perfect blend of sweet, salty and earthiness with the rosemary, I couldn’t get enough of this caramel, which offered a savory chewiness without getting stuck to my teeth. Which, I almost would have preferred, just to be able to taste it for longer. But alas, it was gone in a snap.

(katherine-anne.com)

(katherine-anne.com)

Final Thoughts: While known for years for their truffles, and despite the latest craze in gourmet marshmallows, the secret behind Katherine Anne Confections is actually in their caramels. And many little birdies have told us their drinking chocolate is the way to go. Obviously, this is high on our agenda next time we’re in the area, but no matter how filling that will probably be, we’ll have to order a whole box of Katherine Anne’s Rosemary Sea Salt Caramels, and maybe even a few Mayan Truffles to spice things up a bit.

P.S.: The wonders of the internet mean that you can now order Katherine Anne Confections online. So why not pick up a box of caramels or some truffles to really experience the variety that Katherine Anne has to offer.

V Live

WHAT: V Live (Club)
WHERE: 2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.

OUR RATING: Do It! (If text to get in free)

This is a hot new venue in Logan Square was voted Chicago’s best new club by Metromix in 2009 (so we guess it isn’t new anymore, but oh well). A huge space (over 30,000 square feet) spread over three levels, each a unique locale, V Live has a little bit for everyone. After entering the long corridor, decorated with plasma screens, and up a flight or two of stairs, you enter the main dance area, for about 950-people and with a 200 person VIP lounge. Adjacent (a different space) is V Lounge and the VIP lofts, although we didn’t frequent these this time.

(vlivechicago.com)

(vlivechicago.com)

Adam: V Live is a great venue, with a huge dance floor, nice seating areas and a wide variety of drinks. With the DJ elevated upon a dais at the far end of the dance floor and two bars running along the left and back walls, the space is all encompassing and electric, with great beats pumping out of massive speakers.

Interestingly, this crowd isn’t that sleazy, which is nice to find in a club these days. Well dressed and guarded by ample security, you don’t feel unsafe here, which is nice considering the location. In terms of drinks, I tried a rum and coke, which was alright, but nothing special. I think you’re most likely there to experience the space, not the drinks.

(vlivechicago.com)

(vlivechicago.com)

Alicia: First of all, let me reiterate how huge this place is. This isn’t the hole-in-the-wall disaster that Max Bar is, that’s for sure. I’ve read that acts like Nadia Ali have performed here and I’m not surprised. It’d be the perfect space to host popular DJs and other performers. Yet when they aren’t hosting some big name, be sure to expect a random array of music, anywhere from club music to Top 40 to salsa…one right after the other. Kind of odd, honestly.

Yet, I would totally go back for the atmosphere of the place, especially their dozens of funky lights on the ceilings that look like rotating solar systems of fiber optic lights. Really awesome. Add to that the huge music-video screens behind the stage, other moving lights, and the swankiness of their seating areas, and you’ve got a really unique space.

(vlivechicago.com)

(vlivechicago.com)

Final Thoughts: V Live always has deals going on, so check the website and Do312 for text in deals that get you free entrance (and sometimes even a free drink or two). If you have to pay the $20 cover fee, don’t bother going, but as a free evening, it’s very nice and we would love to go back and stay later when the dance floor is sure to be full.

Off the Record at saki

WHAT: Off the Record (music series)
WHERE: saki (3716 W. Fullerton Ave.)
HOSTS: saki, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

OUR RATING: Do It!

(sakistore.net)

(sakistore.net)

Storefront City ventured to Logan Square for the kickoff to Off the Record, a new monthly music series presented by saki, a record store/art gallery/performance space in Logan Square, and the City of Chicago’s DCASE. The first in the series featured a live performance from Brokeback, hors d’oeuvres from Provenance, beverages from Goose Island, and a DJ set from Thrill Jockey Records.

(sakistore.net)

(sakistore.net)

Founded in 2010, saki is by far one of the cooler venues we’ve visited in the past few months. From the outside it might just look like your average hipster vinyl record store (although, they also sell DVDs, CDs, books and other knick knacks). Inside, the bright and eclectic space beams with energy and attracts discerning clients who know what record they want. The selection is huge and includes modern LPs as well as the more vintage varieties.

Brokeback performs live!

Brokeback performs live!

Anyways, back to the music series. Off the Record’s monthly events celebrate a new record, sometimes in advance of its release. During the 2013 season, there will be live performances and sometimes even interactive portions for each event. For the opening of the series, the instrumental rock band Brokeback performed tracks from their new album “Brokeback & the Black Rock,” which is their first release in ten years, and there was even a Q&A with the band and an aforementioned DJ set.

(sakistore.net) "Yuck" by Delicious Design League

Not good enough for you? How about this: all Off the Record events are free and for all ages. And saki provides a really amazing backdrop with remarkably good acoustics. Right now they have an amazing show going on by Delicious Design League (“Yuck”) with a bunch of their screen-prints hanging up around the store. But this exhibition space is only temporary: Amanda Olbrys’ show “Balance” will be taking its place on the walls on Friday, February 1.

(sakistore.net)

(sakistore.net)

So, can we even really call this a record store? Not really, considering you’ve got a performance space and gallery built in. It’s definitely the new chic when it comes to mixed media spaces–combined art forms are catching on as people realize that using a space in multiple ways has tons of benefits, from cost efficiency to audience sharing.

Definitely head over to their next event. It’s well worth the trek.

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