The far western suburbs have a few food and drink highlights, among them, Paul Virant’s Vie, Katy’s Dumplings and the massive Super H Mart in Naperville. But head out to Warrenville, and you’ll come across the headquarters of Two Brothers Brewery, one of the region’s craft brewing pioneers. This week’s pick is a red rye ale called Cane & Ebel, and we love how it combines tangy rye with the smooth, cool sweetness of Thai palm sugar. Cheers.
I’ve often sung the praises of the mango with sticky rice or the som tom (papaya salad) at Aroy, which, coincidentally and appropriately, is translated as “delicious.” The tiny mom-and-pop only has only about 12 tables, but their old-school approach could rival any Thai restaurant in the country, including the revered Pok Pok, now wowing New York City food media from its perch in Brooklyn.
The thing I love about Aroy is that they don’t hold back. The food doesn’t feel restrained, as if they’re cooking for delegates to a Southern Living convention and don’t want to offend or scare off anyone. They cook as if you’re their long, lost uncle from Isaan, and they make no apologies. When you tell them you want it “Thai spice,” they deliver the goods. The same is true with their pork neck salad. Made from marinated and grilled pork that would be fine on its own, they toss it in a powder, made from wok-seared and pulverized sticky rice, galangal (young ginger) and kaffir lime leaf. I could eat this dish all by itself and be happy that I made the trip to Ravenswood. But obviously, I’m ordering mango with sticky rice if it’s in season.
Chicago has been swept up in the doughnut craze the past year or so, and Glazed & Infused seems poised to be taking control of market share. They’ve already established their beachhead on Fulton Market, but now are opening up satellite stores in various neighborhoods, even taking up some space in the back of owner Scott Harris’ Francesca’s Forno in Bucktown (where a Doughnut Throwdown will take place on a daily base once Stan’s Doughnuts opens across Damen) and also next to the new Davanti Enoteca in River North. I have to say, I’m still either a basic yeasty glazed kind of guy, or a simple, cakey old fashioned, but I do admire their maple bacon long johns and more creative filled doughnuts like creme brûlée. (Kudos and thanks to Todd Rosenberg – @toddrphoto – for the beautiful HD quality video).
More than two dozen artisans and producers will pack the 1st Ward space in the back of Chop Shop this Sunday, for what is shaping up to be a pretty tasty market. I happened to attend Dose a few weeks ago. But since they don’t tell you out front what the theme is (unless you’ve already gone online ahead of time), random visitors who happened to be strolling by – like me – paid $5 to enter and were probably less-than-thrilled, as I was, to see tons of baby clothes and other kiddie-related stuff (food options were limited to coffee, candy and some meatballs from Chop Shop). But they’ve turned things around this Sunday, considerably. Read More
This week, Roper looks to the Northeast, specifically, Portland, Maine. The Allagash brewery has always produced Belgian style beers in large formats, but now they’re actually producing the same great beer in more manageable 12 oz. bottles. Their dubbel and tripel happen to be wonderful beers, and now anyone can find them in their better beer store, in easy-to-carry six packs. Cheers to that.
Don’t just think of Publican Quality Meats as a butcher shop. True, they have a beguiling assortment of aged meat, high-quality cheese and imported goods. But there are also several great sandwiches at PQM. I instantly fell in love with the tuna muffaletta, but like so many great things, they can be fleeting. The meatball sandwich has been a staple at PQM for some time, however, and even though they’re not using the housemade bread for it (it’s more of a lobster roll-style bun they source elsewhere), the combo of the spicy Spanish tomato sauce and the sharpness of peppers and fresh mint makes this a meaty, messy, satisfying lunch.