Week #26 – REVISIT: Terra Incognito Studios

I’ve reached the half-way mark of my blog! Yay! Thank you to everyone who has kept up week after week.

When I think back on all of the activities I’ve done so far, our lace plate class was one of my favorites because it was so different from anything I’ve done in a long time. Melissa, Katherine, and I recently returned to make another place, this time with our friend Kelly! See our creations below!

I decided to stick with the hunter green color but used a different lace design. I want to have a set of four! Groupon, when will you have the next deal? I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I sign up again.

Terra Incognito Studios
246 Chicago Ave
Oak Park

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Week #25 – Cityfront Cafe & Espressamente illy

Who doesn’t like to leave the office and grab lunch with friends and co-workers? Although the Loop is busting with chain restaurants (Native Foods, Hannah’s Bretzel, and Chipotle are some of my go-to spots), it’s nice to go somewhere new every once in a while.

This is where the new Cityfront Café at NBC Tower enters the mix. My cousin, Rob, is the executive chef there, and they serve up tasty, fresh, made-to-order options. The space is modern and, most importantly, very clean. The café is made up of different stations—the grill, salad bar, sushi bar, soups, etc.—as well as pick-up-and-go foods for those who are short on time.

I recently had lunch with my family there—my brother, my Auntie from San Francsico, my cousin Merry (Rob’s wife), and their adorable baby Katelyn. I’m not going to lie, this is my second time visiting, so I’ve actually had two positive experiences. My first time, I had the salad special, which was a Southwest salad with chicken, peppers, pico de gallo, jicama, as well as one of Rob’s rich Rice Krispie treats—all fresh and delicious.

This time I tried the tempura shrimp sushi rolls and edamame. I’m pretty weary about prepared sushi, but with quality ingredients and the sweetest little Asian woman making the sushi right in front of you, you can’t really go wrong. My brother had a turkey burger with fries (one of his favorites because he works in the building), and the girls had salads, which you can see below. They have plenty of seating inside and outside to enjoy your meal. And, if you keep an eye out, you might see some of the NBC news talent, like Andy Avalos and Mary Ann Ahern (like me).

I should also mention that they have Chicago’s only Espressamente illy café next door, with some of the finest coffee you will find. (Sorry, Starbucks!) Now, I’m not really a coffee gal, but I tried a blended coffee drink with a dash of caramel there that started a full-blown coffee addiction. The desserts look pretty amazing too.

Next time you need a new place to lunch in the Loop, try the Cityfront Café at NBC—and tell Rob I sent you!

Cityfront Cafe at NBC Tower
455 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive

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Week #24 – Farmhouse Tavern

My time has been pretty occupied lately with work and apartment hunting, so I was desperate for some time with my girls. Lauren, Tara, and I decided Farmhouse Tavern was the best place for our meet up!

Right when you walk in, you are greeted with friendly hostesses, but also an incredibly warm décor. Think: wire light fixtures, recycled tin tiles, saturated stained wood, tea lights in small mason jars, chalkboards with barn scenes…should I keep going? The farm feel brought me right back to Knoxville, where Nate is from. My home away from home.

It’s important to note that Farmhouse features local (from the Midwest) and seasonal fare, which is something I really appreciate. As I get older (okay, grandma…), I try to know what I’m eating and where my food is coming from. There’s nothing like eating beef from a butcher you know and eggs from the chickens outside.

We sat upstairs in a cozy corner near the bar. Our servers—Emma and Sam—were attentive and kind. I always love servers who offers suggestions, and when Emma recommended The Swing (Deaths Door Gin, Lime Juice, Simple, Cucumber, and Parsley), I gladly took her up on it. (They have a very extensive drink list.) I didn’t know if I’m a gin fan or not, but this drink was tart, yet refreshing. Good pick!

We started with a flatbread of red onion jam, goat cheese, arugula, and currants on a thin, whole-wheat crust. Melted in my mouth.

I then moved on to the fish and chips, another hit. The presentation of the fries and fish together in a paper cone was playful and fun. I was a little hesitant about the malted mustard seed, but it was such an unexpected delicious addition to the dish. The girls had burgers, grass-fed beef and veggie, with smoked gouda and blue cheese, respectively. Is your mouth watering yet? Just wait.

We finished up with lavender angel food cake, honey vanilla bean yogurt, macerated strawberries, raspberry powder, and heirloom oat crumble. Because the ingredients were mostly dry, the strawberries really brought everything together. The added crunch factor was a bonus, for sure.

My meal was about $35 (with tip), which I think is a great deal in Chicago for a cocktail, appetizer, main course, and dessert. I left Farmhouse full both in my stomach and my heart. Just what I needed!

Farmhouse Tavern
228 West Chicago Avenue
River North/Near North Side

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