Summer House Santa Monica

I think I’m in the “nesting phase” of pregnancy–30 weeks!–because being a homebody just sounds so good all of the time. (Not so good for the blog, though!) However, getting together for brunch with my childhood girlfriends is always a great time, so we made plans to visit Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park.

I’ve been wanting to come here for awhile. When I drive past it’s always busy, and I wanted to know what all the business is about! The brunch menu looked amazing, and when Lauren made the reservation, I was pumped.

Tip 1: Go on Sunday morning at 9 am. It’s not crazy busy, and its (dare I say!) easy to park on Halsted. You don’t need to pay the meters, either. Bonus!

Right when you walk in, there’s a dessert case you can order from and eat at your table or take to go. The Cap’n Crunch treats (like Rice Krispie treats) had me at hello.

The restaurant is gorgeous, one of those restaurants you want to live in with California cool style: bright, white, open, and light. 

We arrived on time and sat down right away in a nice booth near the kitchen in the atrium area of the restaurant. Close to all of the action, right? Well, yes, but it also got really warm. Like, take my jean jacket off, chug-water-not-coffee hot. So Tip 2: Dress appropriately or don’t sit in this dining section. (When I got up to go to the restroom, it wasn’t nearly as hot there.)

Our waitress was the identical twin of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) from Dawson’s Creek. She was kind, but the service in general was a little…different. They ran out of cream containers, so they brought it to the table in condiment containers (read: lots of spills and fingers by the liquid). The coffee and water refills weren’t as often as I would have liked. We didn’t have flatware for awhile, and our plates weren’t cleared quickly. Which leads me to Tip 3: Be patient. It’s busy, and I think the food is worth it.

We started with a French Toast entree as our appetizer. It came with a generous dollop of whip cream and syrup. With four slices for four gals, this was the perfect start to our meal. Tip 4: Please, order this French Toast! Crisp on the edges but soft and buttery inside, the toast melted in my mouth. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!

For my entree, I could not decide so I thought quickly and got my usual scrambled eggs/hash browns/toast combo. Instead of breakfast meat, I subbed avocado, which I generously received half of an avocado! Tip 5: Eat scrambled eggs with avocado. Have you ever tasted this combo? What have I been missing? Smooth and creamy deliciousness. And I like to think I’m being semi-healthy, too. (Healthy fats, right?) The thick toast was nice with the butter/cream cheese (I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was tasty), and the jam looked outstanding, too. Two of the girls brought leftovers home, so keep in mind the portions are a good size. (Preggers here ate everything, no problem.)

Would I go back? Definitely, but I wouldn’t sit near the kitchen. Too hot. There are so many other menu items I want to try, it would be a shame not to return. Not to mention, Lauren gave me a heads up that Summer House is a great place to brunch with kids earlier in the morning. Maybe I can have it all! 

Summer House Santa Monica
1954 North Halsted
Lincoln Park

   
     

Week #46 – Three Dots and a Dash

Because I’ve been to a bunch of new restaurants lately, I decided to put them all together in what I like to call Second City Gal Restaurant Week!

First up, my visit to Three Dots and a Dash. I heard a lot about this place and saw enticing pics of tropical drinks on Instagram, and I had to find a way to get here. When my cousin mentioned she wanted to go, too, I knew she’d make it happen for us. We made a night out of it with dinner followed by Three Dots.

Let me tell you, this place is unexpected tropical fun! To get there, you follow a blue-lit alley on Hubbard to a door with a small sign. Prepare to wait if you don’t have a reservation–in the words of Zoolander, this place is “so hot right now.”

Down a blue-lit flight of stairs you’ll go, surrounded by skulls and a giant tiki-type statue. Check in at the host stand, where you’ll be seated either in a small, dark lounge room or the vibrant, loud tiki bar.

We were seated first in the lounge, but switched to the tiki bar to be where the action is! After a mix up with our seating, we were given the Zombie Punch, a sharing drink that gave everyone at the table a kick to start us off.

While we enjoyed the Zombie Punch, I ordered a Jungle Bird, but ended up exchanging it because it was quite strong for this lightweight. Note: some of the rums are aged in whiskey barrels, so they’re much stronger and have a different taste than you might think. Our waitress kindly let me switch that drink for a Pago Pago, which was much more my speed with rum, chartreuse, pineapple, and lime. We ordered another sharing drink, Planter’s Punch, to top it off too!

I have to add a few more details about the drinks. Each cocktail is inspired by a place and time (for example, the Jungle Bird is from Aviary Bar in Kuala Lumpur circa 1978). There are also skulls on the menu by cocktails that are extra strong, so order accordingly! And all souvenir mugs are available for purchase. (You may be tempted…I was!) Check out the drink menu here.

I can’t write this post without talking about the ambiance. It truly feels like you’re on vacation, complete with decor and awesome reggae and tropical music. I couldn’t stop dancing–that’s a good sign! (My family could admit otherwise…)

If you need a vacation, head to Three Dots and a Dash. Aloha!

Three Dots and a Dash
435 North Clark
Near North Side

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Week #3 – Bub City

Let me begin this post by saying I love Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. I’ve been to and enjoyed (in alphabetical order):

Antico Posto
Big Bowl
Café Ba-Ba-Reeba!
Hub 51
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Maggiano’s
Nacional 27
Osteria Via Stato
R.J. Grunts
Scoozi!
Wildfire (one of my FAVORITE restaurants)
Wow Bao (food truck)

So when I heard they were opening a new BBQ spot, Bub City, in River North, I asked my good friend Lindsey from college to have dinner and check it out.

When you walk into Bub City, there’s a great energy that fills the room. The restaurant is a big rectangle, with a whiskey bar near the entrance, dining in the center (as well as a stage), and a standard bar and seafood bar on the other side. The American flag made out of beer cans (below) brings so much to the decor, along with the country-themed posters. (The plastic plates that looked that white paper picnic plates were clever too.)The staff is dressed accordingly in fitted flannels and jeans, and country tunes keeps the vibe up.

We didn’t have a reservation (my fault!), but figured the wait wouldn’t be too long at 5:40 p.m. The hostess told us 35 minutes, which boggled my mind a little, but we went to the bar to wait. And waited, and waited. It probably took about 35 minutes (kudos for accuracy!), but I was really bothered by the sea of empty tables that weren’t filled the entire time we were waiting at the bar that the wait time felt like forever. Our buzzer went off, and the hostess said she had a table ready for us. When I asked her why we couldn’t have sat at one of the open tables, she said there were a lot of reservations, which I believe, but it wouldn’t have taken us long to eat.

We had drinks already from the bar, and we were hungry, so we ordered the Bub BBQ Combo: hot link, pulled pork, brisket, choice of two sides, coleslaw, Texas toast, and pickles. For our sides, we went with the waffle fries and the green beans (which our waitress recommended). Our order came up extremely fast, and, unfortunately, it was just okay. The best part of the meal were the waffle fries and the brisket for me (in that order). And our green beans didn’t come out until we were done with our food. “Green bean dessert!” I said to Linds.

I think I did a few things wrong when I planned our night out. #1—I should have made a reservation. #2—I should have made a reservation on a night with live entertainment. #3—I should have made a reservation on a night with live entertainment, and I wasn’t on an antibiotic (aka can’t drink). Why #3? The whiskey bar was packed. The drink list was intriguing. If I came back, I’d probably come for cocktails with a group. But the scene is worth checking out—there’s definitely nothing like it in River North!

Bub City
435 N Clark St
River North

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