Monday, December 30, 2013

Recent Chicago Restaurant Visits: New in Lincoln Park

When I worked up in the north neighborhoods I would go out for dinner and drinks in Lincoln Park pretty frequently. I don't find myself up in that area quite as often anymore, but when I do it's usually with good reason. And today, I have two good reasons for you to find yourself in Lincoln Park: restaurants, of course! Trellis and Summer House Santa Monica are both new to the LP food scene and are both worth a visit...


Trellis
Lincoln Park

Trellis is the newest offering from Four Corners Tavern, the group behind a few of my favorite sports bars: Sidebar, a downtown lunch staple, Brownstone, Chicago's home for Alex's beloved Longhorn football, and West End where I have enjoyed several brunches, nights out, and New Year's Eve celebrations. The bar is tucked into a quiet block of Racine, just west of the DePaul campus in the old Gaslight (another Four Corners space). Unlike the rest of the Four Corners family, Trellis is less sports bar and more wine bar but with the same consistently good food and a fabulous selection of wine and craft beers in a modern more elegant setting. So, when Trellis invited Alex and me in for dinner recently, I was really excited to give it a try.


We were there on a wet and chilly evening, so we decided to warm up with a few glasses of wine and started off our meal by sharing the prosecco cheese fondue. I love the presentation-- it wasn't just a dip, but it was actual fondue served in a little crock over a votive candle with fondue forks. The cheese was warm and melty with a hint of the acidity from the sparkling wine. It was super tasty with the unique dippers they served: apple slices, grapes, pretzel bites, and salami.


Alex and I can have very different tastes a lot of the time, so we both picked two more items each from the menu to try. First up, Alex's picks: scallops with pancetta over grits in a sherry brown butter sauce. The sauce had a great flavor from the sherry and butter combo and these were the perfectly little bite of rich scallops in creamy grits-- a great portion for sharing!


Not as good for sharing, was Alex's second pick: the chicken noodle soup with fresno chiles. He's not a big soup guy, but he loves some chicken noodle. The fact that this one was kicked up with some heat had his name all over it. I didn't get to sample any of this one, but it had big chunks of chicken, homemade noodles, and smelled delicious. Alex seemed to enjoy it!


As soon as I spot Brussels sprouts on a salad, it's almost guaranteed that I am going to order them. These Brussels sprouts were shaved super thin and tossed with chunks of tender pork belly and slices of spicy radish in a tangy vinaigrette. It was a perfect combination of flavors and a great contrast to some of the richer cheesier items we ordered that night too.



Last, but definitely not least, my favorite thing that we ordered: the fig jam & bacon pizza. Guys, this was SO good! It arrived last and I was already a little full from the other foods we ordered, but it was so tasty that we polished it off without much of a problem. The pizza crust here is perfect: thin, but not crackery and a great marriage of soft and crispy. The pizza was topped with sweet fig jam and caramelized onions, salty bacon, and tangy blue cheese. A simple and genius combination. I will for sure order this every time I return!

I'm definitely looking forward to heading back to Trellis again. It was a great date night spot, but I think it might be even better for a girls' night out. I'd love to come and sip wine with the girls while catching up and sharing a bunch of different items. Welcome to Chicago, Trellis!
Trellis on Urbanspoon

Summer House Santa Monica
Lincoln Park

Also new in Lincoln Park is Summer House Santa Monica, the latest offering from Chicago restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You. The restaurant specializes in lighter California-style cuisine and and the light, beachy decor of the restaurant immediately transports you to the Pacific Coast. Stopping into this restaurant for the first time during a chilly and snowy Chicago winter was especially a treat!


How lovely is the enormous glass ceiling? And with the string lights, it felt super festive... like Christmas at the beach!


We started out by sharing "a hot mess of fries." With a name like that, how could we not order it? This was basically Summer House's version of poutine: super thick-cut fresh fries topped with braised por, blue cheese, truffle jus, and a fried egg. Yum! It was portioned really well so we weren't super stuffed before our entrees arrived, but still super rich and delicious.


For my entree, I ordered the grilled vegetable tacos. It was served as a kind of "create your own" plate with warm corn tortillas and a variety of grilled veggies, slaw, corn pico de gallo, guacamole, and black beans and rice. The vegetables had a simple grilled flavor and paired with all of the other accoutrement, it was a tasty and filling dinner-- especially being totally vegetarian!


My sister Emma spotted this cauliflower on the menu and suggested that we order some to share at the table. The cauliflower was roasted and served with candied lemon, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan in a jalapeno pesto. It was spicy and refreshing all at the same time and the soft and crunchy texture of the roasted cauliflower was delicious. Another dish I may try to make at home!


To finish things off, we enjoyed a little dessert-- three desserts, to be exact. Alex demanded that we order a slice of the triple chocolate cake. It was served with whipped cream and a little square of peanut butter fudge. It was so rich and chocolatey. Along with the cake, we tried two of their homemade ice creams: Maple Whiskey and Peppermint Stick with homemade hot fudge... the cake was really good, but these ice creams were my favorites by far. The flavors were so fresh and there is really nothing better than homemade ice cream.
Summer House Santa Monica on Urbanspoon

Editor's Note: Dinner at Trellis was provided to us at no charge, however the opinions expressed here are all my own.

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