A New England Taste for Chicago Restaurant Week at Oyster Bah

For this Chicago Restaurant Week – we took a trip – with our forks – to New England for some fresh seafood and nautical ambiance.

This week is what some people call “better than Christmas.” It’s Chicago Restaurant Week from January 26 – February 8, 2018. Chicago Restaurant Week is a dream for Chicago foodies because you get to eat a fixed price menu at some of the hottest and finest Chicago restaurants.

A few bloggers and I got together for a tasting at Oyster Bah (1962 N. Halsted) in Lincoln Park to catch up and eat some fresh seafood.

The food was good. The ambience was perfect. And the company made the experience.

Dig in at Oyster Bah:

Since I know you want to – let’s just dig in. I do really think that you bond over meals. While I love good sauces, fresh seafood, and a savory meal – time flew because of the conversations.

We did Oyster shots together and split a lobster roll. I loved how zesty and fresh everything was! Seriously, get the lobster roll and save room for the mussels!

Restaurant Week is a Great Way to Meetup with Friends and Talk About Your Projects:

Best of all, because we met up during the launch of my relationship podcast, Ok Cool, we started talking about our dating lives. Some of the Chicago bloggers shared our worst dating stories from Match and other places. P.S. I don’t really like Match – it took three months, and I only met up with one person.

My favorite story was about how a guy went to the bathroom during the dinner date and didn’t come back! My friend was left with the bill and oddly, his coat which he left behind. At the end of the night, she gave his coat to a homeless guy and had a few drinks with the bartender, who saw what happened.

Restaurant week is the best way to try favorite dishes from Oyster Bah for a set price. The lunch special is $22 and dinner is $33. Reservations can be made by here.

Battle of the 90s at Split-Rail:

Next on my restaurant week list is Split-Rail because – guys – they have a battle of the 90’s – Friends vs. Seinfeld.

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All photos were shot by: The Brazen Gourmand

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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5 Holiday Things To Do in Chicago To Get in The Christmas Spirit

Christmas is 10 days away. 10 days!

Get in the holiday spirit by doing these five things in Chicago.

1. Grab an ugly Christmas sweater.

You know you want one. While you are shopping for friends and family, get a little something ugly for yourself.

You can wear your ugly Christmas sweater at Earls during Ugly Holiday Sweater happy hour Monday-Friday, 3 pm -6 pm. Best of all? If your sweater is ugly enough, you could win a $25 gift card.

2. Dance in that ugly Christmas sweater.

Daybreaker, a national initative to change the way we have fun, came to Chicago this fall. For the third morning dance party and yoga Daybreaker event, they are having a festive ugly sweater dance party in an epic location on Friday, December 18, 2015. Yoga starts at 6 am and the dance party starts at 7 am.

The location is a surprise, just like Secret Santa. But it’s going to be big and magical. Plus, to make it merrier, 50 percent of the ticket price is will be donated to Make-A-Wish®

“We are so thrilled to be partnering with Make-A-Wish® for our biggest party yet on Friday, December 18 at a secret, iconic downtown holiday location,” said a Daybreaker representative.

Get Daybreaker Holiday Party tickets here before they sell out. You can also enter to win a ticket to dance with Windy City Cosmo.

Two people I met at Daybreaker Chicago are coming back to this festive event, which is one of the reasons I love Daybreaker—it builds community.

This time, I want to dance with you. Go to WindyCityCosmo’s Instagram and Twitter and tag (@WindyCityCosmo) in your post along with #daybreaker + #windycitycosmo, for a chance to win a ticket to dance with Windy City Cosmo at the final Daybreaker of the year. I will do the drawing Thursday morning, December 17, 2015.

3. Give locally and nationally.

There are so many festive opportunities to give your time and your donations this winter.

The Chicago Food Depository, a Chicago nonprofit organization that works with 650 food pantries is having two upcoming events this weekend, where you can give non-perishable food items.

  •  December 19, 2015 at 12:30 pm is the 27th Annual Tuba Christmas at the Palmer House Hilton. Bring a nonperishable food item to donate.
  • December 26, 2015 the Cubby Bear’s first annual Jingle Ball,  will a black tie and ball gown affair is free with a donation to Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Salvation Army has a special Virtual Angel Tree program. You can donate until December 24, 2015. NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago and Salvation Army have all partnered together to help kids in needs have their Christmas wishes granted. You can register for the Virtual Angel Tree and see all of the children’s Christmas lists. All you have to do is drop off the gift by December 24, 2015 to The Salvation Army’s Divisional Headquarters (5040 N. Pulaski Rd.) or the Salvation Army Corps Community Centers.

4. Take a walk in winter wonderland.

There may not be snow—yet, but there are lights, and lots of them in Chicago.

Enjoy the decorations by taking a walk in a local Chicago neighborhood, like Andersonville. In my opinion, Lady Gregory’s has the best decorations on the block.

There are also beautiful lights in Millenium Park, The Roosevelt Collection in the south loop, Navy Pier, and at the Lincoln Park Zoo for Zoo Lights.

Best of all, when you are overwhelmed with budgets and the holiday bustle, this is something free you can do in Chicago.

5. Unwind with wine.

Do you want to get away? How about a trip to the vineyards. This year, I joined an event company, Cannonball Production. They do seasonal Midwest events. Right now, they are doing wine tours to Southwest Michigan. The last tours are this weekend, but they will also be available in January and February!

Get you guy friends and girlfriends together for a day out of the city for an all-inclusive winery tour at four location with lunch and roundtrip transportation. It makes an awesome gift, if you are having trouble with that like me. Get your tickets to Cannonball’s wine tour here.

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Earls New City Adds a Holiday Spin to Happy Hour

I know what you have been wondering, why doesn’t Earls have an apostrophe?

Earls Kitchen + Bar Lincoln Park  (1538 North Clybourn)
is a family-owned Canadian business named after generations of men whose middle names are Earl. So, the restaurant is named from a group of Earls.

Now that we have pushed grammatical queries to the side, let me introduce you to a Canadian upscale chain restaurant that, if I had eaten at in Canada this fall, I would have liked Canadian food.

I attended a complimentary dinner party for Earls grand opening.

The Ambiance: Chicago Jazz + Street Art

One of the many great restaurants at New City shopping and dining plaza in Lincoln Park, Earls placed extra care in its first Midwestern restaurant for its October 2015 opening. This is Earls seventh restaurant in the United States and the 64th in North America.

Each restaurant is carefully curated for local flavor and flair. Earls is classy and creative, and layered with warmth and kindness from its staff.

The casual, yet upscale dining experience is elevated by Earls recreation of the best parts of Chicago into its open layout.

When I walked in, I immediately wanted to go to the outdoor patio. It was intimate, yet open and best of all it was warm.

Inside, the bar is wide and had ample space for your food and drinks. I like this section of the restaurant because on the wall they have cutouts of trumpets that were hand-crafted into a music note. I’m still wondering which music note, but it was aesthetically pleasing.

It felt like I was experiencing jazz in the park.

I learned that the tables were made to look like park benches because Chicago is well-known for it’s beautiful parks and the many music festivals it has during the summer.

We looped back around to the main room. Our eyes met a Blues music collage.

Before entering into the main dining area, there is a second bar to the side and a lounge area with comfy, vintage-looking furniture.

During my meal, I sat in between a view of Earls open kitchen and a painting from Chicago street artist FRESH.

I love how Chicago-centric this restaurant is. Yes, they used a Vancouver artist, Ricky Alvarez to create the trumpet installation, but they really captured the heart of Chicago.

Ugly Holiday Sweater Happy Hour:

This winter, while you are sitting on an indoor Chicago park bench, Earls is spicing up its happy hour with holiday festivities.

Monday through Friday, 3 – 6 pm from December 7th – December 30, 2015, Earls will be hosting an ugly holiday sweater happy hour. The best ugly sweater will be chosen to win a $25 gift card.

The Cocktails: Creative + Cozy

Now that you have been invited to a holiday party happy hour, you need to plan your perfect drink.

If you like to look at your cocktail as much as you like to drink it, Earls is your place. They put a lot of effort into introducing creative cocktails, not only in taste, but also in presentation.

There are two particularly sweet cocktails. One of the favorites of the night, but not at our table of seven, was a frozen raspberry bellini. Two other neighboring tables ordered it. While, it looks delicious, it was a bit sweet for us.

I gravitated towards a special lemon meringue cocktail. Note, it’s not on the menu. The Senior Sous Chef, Jovahn Sandhu, told us it was his favorite, so I had to order it. Sure enough, I set a trend for the table and after tasting mine, others started ordering it.

The cutest cocktail, and one that is light enough to sip on all night, comes in a bear shaped glass. It is called Bees Knees.

I have to say, I don’t like Old Fasnioned’s, but I loved this one. It was perfect with my skirt steak. The Old Fashioned is made with Makers Mark bourbon, Demerara sugar, rootbeer bitters and of course a cherry.

While I haven’t tried it, the Century Sour cocktail comes with a special message inside the glass or maybe holiday decor. Messages have included “flawless” and “don’t drink and date.” You’ll have to order it at the ugly holiday sweater party to find out.

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The Food: Globally Inspired

Oh my goodness, the food surprised me. There were traditional sandwiches and salads and burgers, but what caught my eye was the chef specials that are inspired from global dishes.

My favorite a special Korean dish, Bibimbap. It was so flavorful and unlike any Asian dish I have had before. I do favor Korean food, though.

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Bibimbap.  Photo: Amanda Elliott

I also liked the Argentian inspired Chimichurri skirt steak. The dish came in a hot skillet. Rather than focusing on a full feast, the chef emphasizes the main dish and curates the side dish around it.
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Chimichurri Skirt Steak at Earls. Photo: Amanda Elliott

The best starters were the Tuna Tostadas, crispy chili rubbed albacore tuna, creamy avocado, cilantro aioli, radish on a fried tortilla chip.
The other is Leroy’s Crispy, Dry Ribs, which are presented in nice, small, salty bites. We ate the whole plate, which is probably why we couldn’t finish our dinner.
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Leroy’s Crispy, Dry Ribs. Photo: Amanda Elliott

 

Recommendations:

 I agree with the Elite Yelp reviewer, Kevin “Misterkevin” N., who recently went to Earls New City location on December 4, 2015.
“The surroundings, service, and food quality, however, are best in class. For an upscale chain, Earls is as good as it gets.”

Earls has a charm to it. It has a vintage furniture, a unique Chicago interior feel, and what’s best is that it has an outdoor fireplace that is both romantic and yet, perfect for larger parties. In November, I was warmed by the fireplace.If you only were going to order

one drink, get the Bees Knees cocktail. It is cute for Instagram pictures and it complemented most of the dishes quite nicely.

For appetizers, order the Tuna Tostadas. If it is still a special on the menu, order the Korean dish. It’s so good. And it fills you up.

While you can order dessert to go, unless you are ordering a pie, I would eat it in the restaurant. I had peanut butter cookies to go, which came with vanilla ice cream. It tasted fine, but warmed, and properly presented, I think I would have liked it better.

Earls won me over with the ambiance. It’s a perfect date spot with outdoor fireplaces and cute craft cocktails.

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Fall Festival at Lincoln Park Zoo

October is already an amazing time to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark St.). The weather is perfect. Carts have hot apple cider and elephant ears waiting for you to nibble as you stare at the lion on top of the rock.

In October it’s even better because of the Fall Festival. Fall Festival brings fun-filled games and pumpkin picking right to Chicago. Weekend activities include:

  • Corn maze and hay mountain
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Hay ride
  • Ferris wheel
  • Pumpkin bounce house
  • Fun slide
  • Pumpkin carvers
  • Strolling entertainers
  • Sing-alongs for kids
  • Animal chats and learning stations
  • Edible garden

Most activities are one ticket, which is $3.

The Fall Festival runs from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm until next weekend, October 16-18th, but you can pick up a pumpkin until October 31, 2015.

While you are at the zoo, make sure to check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N Stockton Dr.). It’s smaller than the Garfield Conservatory, but just as impressive. For an added bonus, you can request a private or group tour on Friday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Call the Lincoln Park Conservancy office at (773) 883-PARK to schedule prior.

Finish the afternoon at the fountain and enjoy a picnic.

Chicago Fall Festival Photo: Amanda Elliott

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