Date Night: A review of Shaw’s Crab House-Fresh Seafood in Chicago

It was date night last Friday night and Shaw’s Crab House: Fresh Seafood in Chicago was the spot which is just around the corner from the Hampton! We walked up the stairs toward the host stand where we were welcomed graciously and introduced to the maitre’d who showed us to our table. As we sat down, she waited for us to remove our jackets and get situated before handing us the menus. She made sure the table was in order and made sure we were comfortable before departing back to the host area which was much appreciated.

Jose, our server, approached our table welcomed us to the restaurant. His eye contact, friendliness, and casual professionalism made us feel very welcome and excited to start the experience. Jose did an excellent job going through the wine list, appetizer options, and entrée recommendations. He took his time describing the presentation and preparation of several of his favorite recommendations in each of the categories. His salesmanship, honesty, and overall knowledge of the menu were apparent and made us feel very confident with our drink and dinner choices.

We started with Shaw’s Oyster Sampler – twelve fresh oysters including six different varieties of oysters from across the United States including oysters from British Columbia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Prince Edward Island situated on a large bed of freshly shaved ice and circled around three lemon wedges, a small silver ramekin of dark red cocktail sauce, and a small silver ramekin of red wine vinegar and shallot sauce. Very unique and flavorful overall – interesting mix of various textures and flavors. The oysters paired very well with the red cocktail sauce with horseradish and with the flavor of the red wine vinegar shallot sauce. Overall, a great unique first dish.

Shaw's Chicago Oyster Sampler

Shaw's Chicago Oyster Sampler

For an entrée I ordered the Oven Roasted Florida Red Grouper. Large pumpkin seed crusted filet of Florida Red Grouper served next to an orange delicate squash puree sitting in a pool of lemon butter sauce on a large white plate. The preparation of the grouper was excellent with a very tender, warm, flaky interior and a very unique pumpkin seed crusted exterior. The delicate squash puree added a great sweetness to the dish as well as a very unique color combination. The lemon butter sauce paired very well with both the grouper and the squash puree and brought the flavors of both together nicely. Overall, a very seasonal and unique dish! We would most definitely order this again.

We finished our meal by sharing Small taste portions of raspberry pie, pecan pie, key lime pie, and crème brulee served with several small dollops of whipped cream on a long rectangular plate. A great dessert option overall – the raspberry pie and whipped cream were very refreshing and sweet. The pecan pie had an excellent balance between sweet and savory and was very decadent overall. The key lime pie was very light and refreshing and the small dish of crème brulee was very rich and flavorful. Great dessert option!

 

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Are you ready for some football????

It’s that time a year again when folks are lining up outside Soldier Field at 5am firing up their grills, setting up their tents and getting ready for the big game. If you are coming in town during gone of these fantastic weekends and don’t have tickets, do not worry! You can always (almost always depending on the season) get ticket from one of the local ticket brokers. I use AAA tickets, they seem to have the best deals and most tickets available (800-300-4849). But if we have a wind chill of ten below outside and you don’t want to brave our Chicago weather, there are a ton of places to go and watch the game. Right around our hotel to name two of my favorites are Rockit http://www.rockitbarandgrill.com and English http://englishchicago.com. Both have a fantastic selection of food, but more importantly a great assortment of TV’s to watch and root for da Bears!

English’s looks a little bit like a 21st century pub cut from the cloth of a London watering hole. Some of design elements include custom ironwork, tufted booth seating, Victorian wallpaper, handcrafted chandeliers and a collection of large vintage photographs. You will find all of you English favorites like fish and chips with a few foodie favorites like white truffle lobster mac & cheese.

Rockit Bar & Grill has a TV in pretty much every corner you look. Trust me; you won’t miss any game you are looking for here. When you go, you must try two things from the menu: Burger & Rockit Cheese Fries. The burger was named best in the nation by “Good Morning America” and the fries are the best that I have every tried. They have melted brie cheese and shitake mushrooms. Soooooo good….

Either one of these restaurants will do the trick.

Bear Down!

Bear Down

Bear Down Chicago Bears!

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Cantina Laredo, a Modern Mexican Marvel

Last week I had the pleasure of dining at Cantina Laredo, a Mexican restaurant just steps from the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown in the River North neighborhood. To start, the restaurant is brand spankin’ new as of about a month ago. The space itself has a very contemporary, boutique ambiance which is surprisingly inviting and warm. Speaking of warm, there’s a large fireplace towards the back of the restaurant near the restrooms; I imagine this will be a comfort leading into the winter months!

As for the actual dining experience, everything was excellent. Upon being seated, I was greeted by an appetizing avocado in a beautiful silver bowl on the table. While I was salivating over the possibility of fresh guacamole, I was told by my Server that fresh guacamole is prepared tableside and would I like to place an order? But of course! I’ve been to many a restaurant that offered tableside salad service but the guacamole was a first for me. I invite you to order the same, you won’t be disappointed!

Fresh Quacamole being prepared at Cantina Laredo

Tableside Quacamole prepared fresh at Cantina Laredo

I also selected the Chicken Quesidillas AL Carbon as an appetizer. Simply delightful and probably one of the best Quesidillas I’ve ever had….makes my homemade ones made in the microwave with Kraft Cheese look like a joke.

Chicken Quesadillas Al Carbon at Cantina Laredo

Chicken Quesadillas Al Carbon at Cantina Laredo

For my main course, I selected Enchiladas De Barbacoa which is a slow-roasted brisket and monterey jack cheese enchiladas topped with ranchera sauce. Absolutely declicioso!

Enchiladas De Barbacoa at Cantina Laredo

Enchiladas De Barbacoa at Cantina Laredo

 

Not to name names, but it’s my belief that Cantina Laredo is THE BEST Mexican restaurant in the River North neighborhood of Downtown Chicago. When I dine, my main focus is: “is it yummy?” And “will it fill me up?” The answer to both of these questions is an emphatic “YES!” for Cantina Laredo! Do stop by for a meal soon!

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Dinner at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

 

My husband and I  recently went to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab restaurant in Chicago. It’s just steps from the Hampton! As we entered the restaurant through the revolving doors, we were immediately drawn into the buzz and excitement of the crowded bar area. The dim lighting created a relaxing and elegant ambiance and the faint smell of charred meat radiating from the kitchen made us excited to sit down and start our experience. As we approached the host stand, we were immediately welcomed and were promptly shown to our table.

 

The Mortgage for Two is a MUST when going to Joe’s. This appetizer has a generous assortment of fresh seafood choices including two king crab pieces, two jumbo shrimp, two lobster cocktails, and a shrimp and scallop ceviche all presented on a bed of green lettuce and served with cocktail sauce, fresh mustard, and a lemon wedge. Very refreshing and enjoyable! A great mix of fresh seafood flavors and textures. The King crab was very tender and easy to extract from the shell. The jumbo shrimp had a great outer snap and paired well with both the mustard and fresh cocktail sauce. The lobster meat was very juicy and fresh, and the shrimp and scallop ceviche added a great color and citrus flavor to the dish. Overall, an excellent starter and portioned perfectly for two people.

 

For an entrée I ordered the Parmesan Crusted Halibut which includes a large tender parmesan crusted halibut fillet served alongside a small bowl of lemon cream cilantro sauce on a large white ovular plate. The halibut was prepared extremely well. It was very tender and flakey overall and the crisp parmesan crust added an excellent textural contrast to the tenderness of the fish. The lemon cream sauce paired very well with the halibut and added a refreshing citrus flavor. Delicious!

 

Don’t forget about dessert! The Banana Cream Pie with Foster Sauce was amazing. You receive a large fluffy piece of banana cream pie topped with a sprinkle of fresh pralines and served in a small pool of Foster sauce on a small round dish. Wow! A great dessert overall. Very generous portion size. The bananas were very fresh overall, and the whipped cream was light and not at all overpowering. The pralines added a great textural crunch and the Foster sauce really tied all ingredients together. Great take on a classic dessert!

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Eat at EATT

Seafood Salad

The Summer Seafood Salad at EATT

Last week I had lunch with Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza (susanamendoza.com). One of Clerk Mendoza’s goals when she took office in May of this year was to modernize the way the City Clerk’s office does its business. To do that, her office ran a contest to win lunch with the clerk when Chicago residents to purchase their city stickers online. For those of you not familiar with parking in Chicago, residents must purchase & display a City Sticker on their car to avoid paying a fine… yet another reason to rely on public transit when moving to (or visiting) Chicago! Well I was selected as one of the winners of this contest, how exciting is that?!
Clerk Mendoza, the other winners & I ate at EATT restaurant for lunch (eattchicago.com). EATT is just one block from the hotel at 6 W Hubbard (take a right of the hotel, right onto state st, EATT is on your right). It is one part of Rosebud, the famous restaurant group of Chicago. EATT is a great place to stop in for either lunch or dinner. It has a classic American menu. The chef had a special salad dujour with seafood & sesame crackers. It was quite refreshing for a summer day. In fact, EATT is one the many places to enjoy outdoor dining spring through autumn.


The menu at EATT is varied from an omelet with fries to an “Old School” Porterhouse. Since it is a Rosebud restaurant, they of course have the classic “R-Burger,” the 10oz burger on a pretzel roll. You get all this as well as a full bar. Eatt is at the corner of State & Hubbard just one block from the hotel. Once on Hubbard, you will see the variety of bars & restaurants that are so close… You can spend the rest of your time in Chicago trying them all: Mother Hubbard’s (motherhubbardschicago.com), Theory (theorychicago.com), Vermillion (thevermilionrestaurant.com), Rockit (rockitbarandgrill.com), Howl at the Moon (howlatthemoon.com/locations/location-chicago), O’Callaghan’s (ocallaghanspub.com), Dos Diablos (dosdiabloschicago.com) & Sullivan’s (sullivansteakhouse.com) are all on the 1 block stretch of Hubbard. You can make an entire weekend of patronizing all the bars & restaurants on the entire block!

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