Cleveland hound's trip to Chicago
Wife and I breezed into town, partly to celebrate anniversary, but mostly to CHOW. Had a great time, despite the rain.
First stop, San Soo Gab San. It pains me to write that this place is running on vapors. Don't get me wrong, I still think it is a must visit, especially late at night with friends, for the scene. That said, the panchan lacked a brightness in flavor and freshness that is so much a part of that experience. We ordered the soft shell crab app and it was frozen in the middle and crispy on the outside. Granted, for 6.50 I wasn't expecting fresh...still. The good news is that the ribs were as rich and sweet as ever. I think we are ready to seek our khalbi elsewhere.
Next stop, Fox and Obel, for provisions and dessert. Key lime tart and coconut cream pie were the dessert choices. We also picked up some cheese (cabrales and parm-regg), bread, good shepherd company yogurt (ginger and plain)..............and the best frikkin chopped liver I have ever had! It was weird because I immediately started to wonder how many trips I have made and NOT ordered this item. It has been my experience, unfortunately, that moist chopped liver is bland and that the flovorful stuff tends to be dry. The stuff we got from F & O really tripped our trigger's and it was reasonable at 8.95 lb.
Next stop, SANTORINI (we usually go to Greek Isles but decided to go elsewhere,largely due to posts on here). Obviously, given my nick, I KNOW good greek food. I was sorta surprised and turned off by the fact that they didn't have okra. It's not sacrilege or anything, I just had my heart set on it, ya know? Also, their moussaka was meatless. Again, no biggie, I could have ordered lamb eight ways to sunday, right? ANYWAY, wife ordered the pastitsio and we both agreedthat it was among the best we had ever had. It was rich with a kind of savory sweetness that really made you stop and enjoy. Oh yeah, before I forget, the olive oil they had at the table was so GRASSY and good....much higher level than what you would expect as a table oil. I finally settled on the baccaliaro with skorthalia and was happy. Oh yeah, once our waiter realized I was greek he really went out of his way.
Anniversary dinner (ONLY CAUSE WE HAD A 100 GIFT CERTIFICATE) was at Ruth's Chris. Whatever, it was FINE. OUr food was cooked as we ordered it and the sides of spinach and mashed were nice enough, but it is what it is. Next time, G & Gs for sure.
Last stops....Bale for 24 bahn mi (our friend's place delivery orders) and Pho Hoa. Bale is always a must, no matter what else is happening. We were there late and everybody was so friendly and helpful; from seperating veggies to letting us knosh on s[pring rolls while we wait, that place is worth the trip. The big surprise was Pho Hoa. I always thought it was mediocre but my wife loves it so we go there for pho. I thought the broth was MUCH better than the last time and the tendon (my favorite) was truly outstanding. The broth had that cinnamonny/beefy flavor, only with much more depth. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but hasn't their menu expanded? The service was excellent (no, that is not a typo). Not only we told not to rush (it was late sunday), we felt warmly welcomed.
Well, that's it...not chinatown, no high-end or night of wine or drinking, but it was nice just the same. We are already planning our next trip!
UGH..........almost forgot about breakfast ORANGE. Now that is a restaurant resting on it's laurel's. Bad food, bad service.....and we spent for what we got.
One final note....we saw Shanghai Cirque (Bai Xi) at the Navy Pier and while it was a smidge cheesy, it was also pretty cool. I also loved that they timed the Blue Angels show to end just as the acrobats started. Now THAT is pretty tight!
SSGS has sentimental value for us, but we are ready to move on.
Thanks for the heads-up about the owner's olive vineyard that supplies the oil for SANTORINI. Grilled octopus is next....and a trip to Pegasus.
Next trip we hope to spend time in chinatown and some tapas/gastropub sorta stuff.
Oh, btw, not to scare anybody but we hope to be chicago hounds before to long! :P
I enjoyed your review of your meals here in Chicago, I have to agree with your evaluation of SSGS. My last visit was not as good as previous visits, but I still cannot say no to their tasty grilled meats, and I like getting to grill my own. I am also ready to try out some new koean bbq spots. I also agree with you on Orange, I ate their once, and left with the same results you seeemed to have, bad service, and mediocre food.
I dont like Greek Islands as a choice in Greektown good move, in my opinion, avoiding it and going elsewhere, my favorite is Pegasus.
Thanks for the reviews.
San Soo Gap San isn't running on vqpors...it never had a full tank to begin with. IMO, SSGS has always sucked....Hae Woon Dai is my go to place for Korean BBQ.
I would recommend a return visit to Santorini...this time stick with seafood, the charcoal grilled octopus is second to none!
re: Vinny Barbaresco
To simply pronounce that San Soo Gab San "has always sucked", is pretty harsh, especially when you offer no supporting argument. Besides, it is just not true. I was at a Korean restaurant in the suburbs recently, that truly did "suck". At least SSGS provides real coals, and a big array of panchan, and on the whole the food is pretty good. Sure there are better Korean BBQs, and Hae Woon Dae is certainly one of them, but SSGS is far from the worst Korean restaurant in the city. Although, given a choice, based on food quality alone, I would always opt for Hae Woon Dae. For a more lively atmosphere, I would choose SSGS.