Thursday, July 26, 2007

Noodle Garden, Evanston

I've mentioned my fondness for Thai food, and having strong feelings about Thai cuisine helps when I can't seem to make up my mind as to where to eat. It's a reliable default that never disappoints.

Anyway, one day, Vicky and I couldn't decide where we wanted to have lunch. We were too lazy to think about a new place to try, so we just narrowed down our choices to Thai restaurants. She brought me to Noodle Garden which is near her place in Evanston, and I was happy with everything we ordered. I particularly liked their fried shrimp rolls and their shrimp dumplings. (Actually, if any restaurant has those two dishes, I'm pretty happy already.) If I remember correctly, we had two orders of the shrimp rolls since the four pieces went quickly.

I would want to come back to Noodle Garden if I ever go back to the Chicago/Evanston area.

Fried Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp Dumplings

Noodle Garden
1241 Chicago Avenue
Evanston 60202-1337

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mambo Grill, Chicago

While I was in Chicago, I did some research on top restaurants in the city which didn't have prices that were way too outrageous. I came up with Topolobampo, a Tex-Mex restaurant on North Clark street. Vicky and I went to check it out, but unfortunately, we were not forward-looking enough to make reservations. The hostess (is that the right word?) told us that there would be a two-and-a-half hour wait. Since we were already hungry, we went down the street and tried our luck elsewhere.

We stumbled upon Mambo Grill a few meters down the road. We looked in a bit, saw that it was Zagat rated, so we sat and waited for a table. We ordered a pitcher of mojito, which is something that Mambo Grill is apparently known for (it has been voted best mojito in Chicago by Metromix, a lifestyle website). It went well with the chips and salsa, and I had too much of both before the main course arrived (well, I was VERY hungry.) I had the Plantain-Crusted Halibut, while Vicky had the Coconut-Curried Tilapia. The halibut was ok, but I had a taste of the tilapia and I liked that better. We decided to split each dish, so we could have both dishes. This arrangement worked to my advantage because we both preferred the tilapia.

I didn't finish either dish, but that was mostly because I had too many chips and too much salsa. We didn't even finish the pitcher of mojito (which was excellent, by the way), because Vicky needed to drive, and I was just too stuffed to take in anything more.

I never learn. If I have appetizers, I never finish my main course. At least, not when I'm in the US where the servings are more often than not just too big for me.

Plantain-Crusted Halibut

Mambo Grill
412 N. Clark St.
between Hubbard and Kinzie
Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: (312) 467.9797

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Park Grill at Millennium Park, Chicago

(This entry took place some time in May. The chronology of this blog is getting messed up, but what the heck.)

From Missouri, Vicky and I drove on to Chicago as my first stop on my long way back home. I love Chicago; it's one of my favorite US cities. Aside from being able to see a body of water despite being in the midwest (I pretend the lake is the sea), I also like the food that the city offers.

Vicky and I went to Millennium Park, where I did the tourist thing and took a gazillion pictures of the bean. After all that picture-taking, we decided to eat at Park Grill, which is smack in the middle of the park. It was pretty outside, but it was too hot to eat lunch al fresco, so we just sat in the comfort of airconditioning. I didn't want to eat too much, so I chose not to get an appetizer. I did, however, have a couple of cosmopolitans to battle the heat.

I had the Sunburst Trout, which was described to be "herb roasted with poached butter potatoes and roasted garlic-lemon puree". It didn't disappoint. I also had some chocolate concoction for dessert, but I can't remember what it was. Not that it was unmemorable, it's just my failing memory, it seems.

Maybe all the eating I've done has affected my brain. I really have to get these food stories straight.

Sunburst Trout

Park Grill
11 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
Phone (312) 521-PARK

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Forge and Vine

I was often stressed out during my last semester at Mizzou, much like most of my fellow graduates-to-be. Rushing papers, finishing up projects; these things were enough to make me want to pull my hair out. I had to write a mini-thesis that I needed to defend before a committee so that I could graduate, and I spent around five days with barely any sleep writing it up. After I did a final spell check, I sent the paper off to my committee members for them to review before my defense.

Although I wasn't sure that I would defend it successfully (though it turns out I would), I was just so relieved that I had finished the paper at all that I figured it was time for a celebration. I decided to go to the Forge and Vine, a restaurant that becomes a happening bar after dinner hours. I had a late lunch by myself around three in the afternoon. When I went there, there were no people at all. I thought that was great because no one would rush me to leave the table. I eat very slowly, and when I eat alone, I particularly like to savor the food.

Baked Crab Dip

I had the Baked Crab Dip to start, and it was too big for me to finish. I set more than half of it aside to take home. I had to leave room for the main course, and I also fully intended to have dessert and coffee. I had the Forge Pasta Primavera with Shrimp, and for dessert I had the turtle cheesecake.

Forge Pasta Primavera with Shrimp

Turtle Cheesecake

Among the things I ordered, I enjoyed the dip the most, followed by the cheesecake, and finally, the pasta. I didn't think the pasta was anything special. It tasted like some other dishes that I've had in similar restaurants. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my solo celebratory lunch. Eating slowly with no people around... that's practically heaven for me.

119 South 7th Street
Columbia, MO 65201
In between Locust & Cherry
Phone: 573.44.Forge

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brockton Villa

I've fallen way behind in posting my pictures from the US, and I've already been back in the Philippines for a month. So I've decided to just post the pictures as I find them on my computer, and forget about being obsessive-compulsive about chronology.

On my last weekend in the west coast, Kuya, Liz, Aidan, and I went to San Diego. We went to Sea World and San Diego Wild Animal Park, and we also had a chance to visit a dear friend, Ida Sandico-Whitaker. It was very nice to see her, since I hadn't seen her in seven years. She's been based in San Diego for ten years or so, and it was great to finally pay her a visit.

She brought us to La Jolla, a quaint little town with a nice beach with lots of seals sunning themselves on the rocks. After taking a leisurely walk in the area, we decided to have lunch at Brockton Villa, which has a nice view of the sea. (Also, we were very hungry and that was the first restaurant we saw.) It was fun to have lunch with an old friend, just talking through the main course, dessert, and coffee. I had the shrimp tacos, and chocolate cake for dessert which went perfectly with coffee.

Shrimp Tacos

Raspberry Chocolate Marquise

1235 Coast Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel. (858)454.7393