Terra & Vine

Yesterday was busy, and I got to spend it with a few of my faves. 

After lots of time with my little girl, I headed out on a rainy day to Terra & Vine, a rustic Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in in downtown Evanston, to celebrate one of my oldest friends.

Google Maps failed me so I was the last to arrive, but I liked what I saw when I walked in: a friendly hostess, a gorgeously-designed restaurant, and my friends chatting happily.

But I have to confess a secret: I took two photos during lunch. Two. One of the massive pull apart cinnamon roll we had for our first course,

 and my beautiful Italian Cobb Salad (no cheese, champagne vinaigrette dressing instead of creamy Italian). 

Bonus: In the first photo, you can see the sweetly-detailed glass that my Diet Coke came in. If you know where I can find those, I will buy you a coffee. I mean it. I need those glasses. (Sidenote: I have a glassware addiction. It makes moving often difficult…)

Ok, ok, back to T&V. I gave up cow’s milk (except butter) for lent, so I appreciated the substitutions on my salad (didn’t eat the cream cheese frosting either). On that note, our waiter was so nice, attentive, and a hoot. A real character. I appreciated his energy, and his eye on my Diet Coke for refills.

Back to the food. Delicious. I would have showed some restraint on that cinnamon roll if it didn’t smell so good. And the waiter recommended it, so how could we say no?

And even though I made changes to the Italian Cobb Salad, I thought it was pretty stellar, too. I liked the presentation of rows of toppings–every bite was unique. The quality of the ingredients and the freshness was very obvious, too. I enjoyed it almost as much as catching up with my friends.

There is something so filling about spending time with friends. Especially sans little humans. I love my EJ, but she needs to practice the art of dining out. (Rule #1: Stay seated unless you need to use the restroom. Speaking of which T&V’s was pretty and clean, which to me means a lot.)

The question for me is always, would I go back? Yes, for sure. It’s a great meet up spot for friends and young families. They just started offering brunch and lunch, and I can also vouch that the avocado toast looked so tasty!!! The veggie sandwich, too, but lots of bread. Oh, and the fries aren’t bad either…

I’ll also return because I need to scope out that exotic black-and-white tile and those glasses again, too. See you soon, Terra & Vine!



When our friends Scott and Katherine asked us to go to brunch, I gave them the difficult task of choosing our meeting place. All of their options were great, but Gather‘s menu looked too good to pass up.

So we recently headed north to Lincoln Square, which we haven’t explored all too much, but my God, is that area cute.

We checked in and waited for our friends at the bar, which is located across from a quaint kitchen counter where you can eat and watch the chefs create. Love this element of intimacy and the ability to chat with the chefs.

Soon after we sit down we met Scott, the bartender, who quickly talks us into a mimosa and a Bloody Mary. Scott was great, making us laugh and telling us his favorite dishes on the brunch menu (the Skillet, Chicken Fried Biscuit, and the Corn Griddle Cake). When Scott and Katherine arrived, we sat down and were pleasantly surprised that Scott was also our waiter.

We started with the donut and sticky bun (hello! yum!) that are perfect for sharing, followed by the Benedict for me, the Sunday Omelete for Katherine, the Skillet for Nate, and the Cured Salmon for Scott.

Let me tell you, the presentation of these dishes were so good, I was inspired. It really makes such a difference when your dish is just as pleasing to the eye as it is to taste. Since then, I’ve really tried to work on my presentation with the meals I make at home (check Twitter @secondcitygal for photos).

Can I also mention that they do something to their home fries that should be illegal. I don’t know what it is but they are whole potatoes that are perfectly crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside (I probably don’t want to know how they’re made!). The rest of my Benedict was good, too–fresh and thoughtfully prepared. Everyone was pretty pleased with their dishes.

As if these potatoes could keep me away, Gather also has a Sunday Dinner that I just need to try. Served family style, you enjoy a meal of three entrees for the table with sides and sticky buns for dessert. This traditional dinner concept is a must for me (want to come with?).

Lastly, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that I didn’t sit outside, but their outdoor space looked amazing. I need to go back to sit out there, too.

Whether you’re looking for a tasty brunch or family style dinner, you’ll find excellent service and delicious comfort food at Gather.

4539 North Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Square






Week #46 – Little Goat

Well, maybe you thought my Restaurant Week was over, but I needed to go out with a bang. Hello, Little Goat.

For months, it was killing me that I had not yet been to the latest restaurant of one of my favorite chefs: Stephanie Izard. (More Top Chef love!) Girl & the Goat is one of the best restaurants in the city, not to mention both spots are THREE blocks from our place! So today was the day we finally went with our friends Brad and Sandra.

Nate and I walked in and there was a photo booth. Awesome. It was 9 a.m. and the wait was brief. Double awesome.

We sat down in a cozy booth in what truly is a hip diner. I loved the wallpaper, the retro lighting, that you could see the cooks in the kitchen…I loved it all.

Looking at the menu had me drooling (A whole section dedicated to potatoes? Yes, please!), and I opted for coffee, corned beef hash with poached eggs, and a cinnamon roll for the table. I’m still drooling thinking about it…

The hash was so cozy and filling, I could only make it through half. I tried some of Sandra’s apple pancakes, and they were so delicious with buttermilk butter and oatmeal crumble on top. And the boys ordered a French Toast dish with chicken and fresh strawberries on top of eggs. The perfect combo of sweet and savory. The cinnamon bun was the perfect end to my meal, leaving me so stuffed I had to take a nap after breakfast.

Will I go back? I want to go tomorrow!!! I need to now have lunch and dinner here, and then breakfast again. Oh, Nate, I think I just found our new go-to spot. Check it off the to do list!

Little Goat
820 West Randolph
West Loop