Earlier this week, Rupak flew to Chicago for the ProMat Conference. Since our ten-year anniversary is on Thursday, we made plans for me to fly out and meet him. After planning our itinerary for a month, I was excited to finally arrive.
I arrived around 3:00 or so and took a cab to the gorgeous J.W. Marriott Hotel. I would have posted a picture of our room, but Rupak had checked in earlier in the day, and the room was already a mess by the time I got there… so I grabbed a couple of pictures off of Marriott’s website.
The room is beautiful and has a nice view of some of the surrounding buildings. The architecture here is fascinating. Hopefully it will be a sunny day tomorrow so I can post a few pictures.
I could probably go swimming in that bathtub. It’s enormous!
After I unpacked (and cleaned the room), I realized I was starving, so we headed out to a hot dog shop I’d looked up online that was within walking distance. (Everyone says to get a hot dog and pizza in Chicago, so I decided this one time it was okay to eat meat!) After a few blocks, we stopped where the hot dog place was supposed to be… apparently it no longer exists! Instead of just turning around and heading back to the hotel, however, Rupak and I decided to walk around the block and see if something else popped up. We came across this little gem just half a block away:
I figured this was my “sign” – meat just wasn’t supposed to be in the cards for me today.
The business is made up of two parts – a health store downstairs that carries all kind of natural foods, herbs, and supplements, and a café upstairs featuring vegetarian and vegan food and smoothies. The first thing that caught my eye was the Kombucha on tap. I didn’t even know that was a thing! I’m not a huge fan of Kombucha (do a Google image search for “kombucha mother” and you’ll see why) but Rupak loves the stuff.
We headed upstairs to the café, where I quickly became overwhelmed with all the delicious-sounding vegetarian options.
Rupak and I both decided on paninis: he ordered the Pesto (roasted red peppers, walnut pesto, spinach, red onion, mozzarella) and I chose the grilled cheese (tomato tapenade, caramelized onions, cheddar, mozzarella, plus I added pesto to my sandwich as well). Rupak got a combo meal with lentil soup and a vegetable juice blend.
The food was absolutely delicious! So glad the hot dog place was closed!
With our tummies full, we headed back to the hotel. Rupak took a nap while I cleared out about a million photos from my phone. We were going to the Girl and the Goat restaurant for dinner and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room for more food pictures!
We decided to walk to the restaurant to work up our appetites. It was quite windy and chilly, but it was only a mile away. Plus, there are literally cabs everywhere in Chicago, so if we got too cold or tired, we reasoned we could always jump in a taxi on the way. We arrived after about a twenty-minute walk and we were seated right away. It was packed and loud, and we were practically sitting on top of the diners next to us, but there was a great vibe to the place. Our waiter explained the menu, which was divided into vegetable, fish, and meat dishes, along with a special separate “Goat” menu.
The dishes are brought out one or two at a time, and they meant to be shared. We decided to splurge and ordered six dishes – three from the vegetable menu, one fish dish, one meat dish, and one goat dish.
Our first dish to arrive was the goat carpaccio with smoked trout roe and olive-maple vinaigrette. Rupak cleared the plate by himself (big mistake with five more dishes to go).
Next, the pan-fried shishito peppers with parmesan, sesame, and miso breading. The peppers were a little spicy, but the breading was delicious. We ate way too many peppers, and I ended up drinking three glasses of water in an attempt to counteract the spiciness. Four dishes still to come.
The next two dishes arrived together – the roasted cauliflower with pickled peppers, pine nuts, and mint garnish and the sautéed green beans and cashews with a fish sauce vinaigrette. The green beans were highly recommended by the people at the table next to us, who said it was one of the best things on the menu. They were right! I’ve never tasted green beans like this before.
The cauliflower was excellent as well. I like to roast cauliflower at home myself, but I always just pull off the florets and throw them on a baking sheet to roast in the oven. This cauliflower was sliced, then roasted, and it was the perfect mix of crunchiness on the outside and softness on the inside. I didn’t care for the mint, but I’m not a big fan of mint anyway.
The next dish was the seared diver scallops with ginger-chili aioli, shiitake mushrooms, sea beans, and braised peanuts. We were both getting pretty full at this point, so I was glad the last two dishes were meat. You wouldn’t think a person could fill up on green beans, cauliflower, and peppers, but when the dishes are this delicious, it’s not hard to overeat. Good thing I wore my stretchy pants. I tasted the aioli, beans, and peanuts, all delicious. Rupak described the scallops with one word: “YUM!”
Finally, the star of the show arrived – the beef tongue. Gross. Rupak cut off the tiniest little piece for me to try. The taste was good, but the texture was… well… like a tongue. It really freaked me out when I realized my tongue was touching a cow’s tongue. Rupak said it tasted like sausage. To me, the best part of the dish were the fried masa pieces.
Our waiter returned with a dessert menu. Of course, like any good dessert menu, there was a cheese section!
While we were trying to decide if we could fit any more food in our stomachs, the waiter stopped by our table with an anniversary gift for us: dessert! Our waiter even offered to take our picture.
Unfortunately, we dove right in without me getting a picture of the dessert first. So, here’s the aftermath:
You would think that we would have stopped there… but I’m not one to leave a fancy cheese plate behind. So, much to our waiter’s surprise, we ordered the Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert, a sheep/cow’s milk blend.
And finally, tea.
When we first arrived at the Girl & The Goat, cold and hungry, we decided that we would take a cab back to the hotel… but after all that food, we felt we had to try and walk at least *some* of it off. We took a different route back and discovered some neat landmarks along the way.
We finally made it back to the hotel, tired, fat, and happy. Tomorrow we visit the Art Institute of Chicago and dine at the famous Alinea!