What to Order on a Dinner Date to Grand Lux Cafe Chicago

Grand Lux Cafe has always been known for their amazing desserts like this one. And while it would be a disappointment to forgo dessert. Dessert is one of the best parts of a number restaurants I have reviewed including Chop in The Roosevelt Collection. But, it’s nice to actually enjoy a good meal with your significant other or a group of friends after shopping on Michigan Avenue.

The 200 item menu at Grand Lux Cafe offers classic American dishes and international favorites, including appetizers, pasta, seafood, steaks, chicken, burgers, salads, specialty items and desserts. And while the food – the real food is quite tasty – what’s especially nice about this restaurant is that on top of offering fine cuisine, it also has an onsite bakery for delicious desserts, and my favorite – their cappuccinos.

I went to Grand Lux on a Friday night in July for a date. I’ve been there with a friend, but I like this setting for an intimate date – when you can forget time.

The Cocktails:

Grand Lux is pretty amazing for their cocktails alone. It’s beautiful inside and it almost seems like just grabbing a cocktail here would be a waste because the food is so good. But, there are some really good cocktails on the menu. If you’re ordering a main dish – I would go with the champagne or a glass of wine – it just pairs better. I had the Laurent-Perrier, Brut, France champagne, which is drier and comes in a cute mini bottle.

But, when you’re having apps, I would order the Passion in Paradise. It’s a rum drink with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Pineapple, Passion Fruit and Fresh Lemon. It’s tropical, it’s big, and it’s strong, and seriously refreshing.

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The Appetizers and Salad:

You quite honestly don’t want to miss the appetizers. The portion sizes of the main dishes are quite large, but when you’re staying for a while, treat yourself to one of restaurant goers favorites – the Buffalo Chicken Rolls. I know! I was skeptical because it seems like an Asian twist on sports food – and it was – but it was really good. The Buffalo Chicken Rolls have Chicken Breast, Cheese and Our Very Spicy Delicious Buffalo Sauce all Rolled in a Spiced Wrapper and Fried until Crisp. Served with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing (which you can swap for Ranch).

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Another appetizer that I wanted to try was the Ahi Ceviche which has Fresh Raw Ahi Tuna Diced and Marinated in Lime Juice, Chiles and Cilantro. Tossed with Avocado, Tomato, Onion and Cucumber. But of course, we only have one stomach. So, I tried my date’s Pot Roast Cheese Fries, which is basically pot roast flavored fries. It’s French Fries Topped with Chunks of Tender Pot Roast Smothered with Gravy and Creamy Cheddar Cheese Sauce.

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The Main Dish:

Finally, after atleast one cocktail, some delicious buffalo chicken and a zesy salad, it’s time to enjoy salmon. When I use to think of Grand Lux, I thought of them as pasta and desserts, but now since I’m trying to eat healthier, and they really do a great job with their sauces, I order their salmon. There are three salmon dishes on the menu and they are not created equal.

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I think the Cedar Plank BBQ salmon was nicely flavored and the side of mashed potatoes are amazing. It is roasted on a Cedar Plank and Glazed with Sweet and Spicy B.B.Q. Sauce. Served with Mashed Potatoes, Corn Succatash and Crispy Onion Rings.

Then, there’s the salmon three ways –  Soy Glazed with Shiitake Mushrooms, Horseradish Crusted with Asparagus and Almond Ginger with Green Beans and Beurre Blanc. Some of the salmon was a bit dry for my liking. But, I will say the horseradish crusted with asparagus and almond ginger was a great blend.

The Dessert:

The best part of the meal is dessert! I liked the Warm Sticky Bun Bread Pudding. The Sticky Bun’s crunch and the sweet caramel drizzle are completed with a side of whip cream, which both complements and cools the dessert and you can get the recipe here. 

But, I went with the Godiva chocolate cheesecake and paired it with their cappuccino. I’m seriously obsessed with the cappuccino’s here. They are the best because they do have an onsite bakery and coffee shop. This cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts in the city. It was rich. It was creamy. It’s also huge, so you can split it with your date or a group of friends or take some home like I did.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. I think that the service was impeccable, especially because we had Oscar who recommended several appetizers and my favorite drink. But I also like Grand Lux because in a city you can feel so rushed and the establishments can be so small, but here I felt like I could have a conversation (which we did for three hours) and get to know someone.

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Goddess and The Baker Will Make You Feel Like Aphrodite

It’s taken a minute (or over 2 years), but I found my favorite coffee shop in the city. In Chicago, it’s sad that chain coffee shops are more available than the independent retailers. When I need a cup of Joe in the morning, Dunkin Donuts is always closest to the train station, except at the Sheridan Redline stop, where Emerald City is attached to the train station and serves vegan pastries and your solid mocha.

I have sadly sipped and ditched too many overpriced coffees and specialty drinks in the city to get to this point. Just on Friday, I was at Stan’s, Donuts and Coffee which is amazing, especially the one near Northwestern downtown. Anywho, the barista made—I want to say was a chai tea latte. It took extra long to make and it was extra terrible. It didn’t even make it into the Uber with me. The Nutella banana doughnut, however, was on point.

There are a lot of cute and cozy spots, and hidden gems throughout the city such as The Coffee Studio in Andersonville (get something caramel there—so good). I will soon try Peet’s since they bought Intelligentsia.

Finding a place that has good light food and good coffee is not easy. For a restaurant, Yard House at New City in Lincoln Park has amazing coffee because they serve Lavazza. To me, nothing beats Lavazza coffee.

The winner for best coffee shop in Chicago is known for it’s rainbow cake. Goddess and The Baker (33 S Wabash Ave) is casual, convenient, and good, all of the things that make it the best coffee shop in Chicago.

Criteria for a Good Coffee Shop:

I am going to pause and define the ambiance and vibe that I was looking for in a coffee shop. If you are looking for an outlet, this is not the spot for you. See my Starbucks’ in Chicago guide for the freelancer.

Builds Community: This might be hipster, oh wait they are the ones with a laptop at every coffee shop, but I like that people gather and socialize at a coffee shop. It feels very much like a genuine meeting place over a bottle of wine or a piece of rainbow cake. Conversation at a coffee shop? Yes, please!

Health. What I like a lot about Goddess and The Baker is that they serve healthy food. Why does coffee always go with a doughnut or pastry? The latte already takes a toll on my caloric intake. It’s nice to pair  a latte with a salad or even guacamole and chips.

The food is really good. Both the small bites, the sandwiches, and the pastries. They serve dessert all day. The cake is moist and delicious from the vibrant colors to the light and sweet icing.

 

The drinks are really good. I appreciate their attention and selection of details. Pretty much, Goddess and The Baker only puts quality food and drinks on the menu. The coffee is served pour-over and drip.

Deals/Rewards: They have a happy hour for beverages and half of appetizers. There is also a loyalty program.

Variety: They serve non-alcoholic drinks and tea and coffee. It’s not so much about the variety, but it’s nice.

Location: Goddess and The Baker is close to public transportation and activities. It is a few blocks from State Street shopping to the west, and Millennium Park to the east.

Holiday Favorite:

For a limited time, Goddess and The Baker has the Bourbon Praline Latte.

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Bourbon Praline Latte. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Food for Aphrodite:

Known as “a good food experience,” Goddess and The Baker  offers small bites and made-to-order sandwiches.

This weekend, I tried the Garden Goddess Wrap, one of the vegan options on the menu. I do eat meat, but sometimes I enjoy a vegetable-based meal. It was filled with red beets, carrots, avocado, and cucumbers. It’s complete with hummus on the sides and a light touch of Goddess dressing.

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Vegan option, Garden Goddess Wrap. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Then, my friend and I also split a half-priced appetizer, the Double Dip with Kale Salad. The platter was massive.

There were artisanal bread and pita bread to dip in a cup or hummus or guacamole. Then, there was fresh kale salad lightly sprinkled with Goddess dressing. On the side were carrot sticks and celery sticks and two halves of red beets.

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Goddess and The Baker Dinner. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Best Time to Go:

During lunch hour throughout the week, the most popular day is Monday starting at 11 am.

Later on in the week, on Wednesday and Thursday, it is more popular to go after 4 pm.

I love that when you do a Google search for restaurants, they provide a chart with the flow of traffic so you can know the popular times to go to restaurants and coffee shops.

Monday – Friday:  7 AM – 8 PM

Saturday and Sunday: 8 AM – 8 PM*

The Goddess Behind The Baker:

The Goddess brand was first introduced to Chicago in 2004 under the Goddess and The Grocer name by owner, Debra Sharpe. Since then, Sharpe expanded the line into Goddess and The Baker with two locations this year.

Her food and drinks have been served through a standalone grocery store, a coffee shop moment, and even catering for musicians like Jay-Z, according to Sharpe’s bio.

Runner Up Favorite Coffee Shop:

If you are going to a coffee shop for a meeting or to get work done, there is one coffee shop that is amazing.

It is further west. This space has mismatched chairs, lots of tables, real food and good coffee. The staff is helpful and sweet.

The runner-up for favorite coffee shop in Chicago is Filter Café (1373 N Milwaukee).

*The article was changed on Nov 25, 2015 to correct the times of business. Goddess and The Baker is open on Saturdays.

 

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