Phoebe's Phat Cupcakes

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, the end of the school year has come and gone. And you know before I let Brynn and Gordon out of my sight for the whole summer we had to do a little celebrating.

I took a survey of how everyone was feeling that night and the consensus was something like "WE NEED SUGAR!" So I quickly checked Google for the nearest purveyor of sweet tooth satisfying treats. The closest was Phoebe's Cupcakes located on N Broadway Street. Just so you know, anytime you mention the word cupcake around Gordon he instinctively begins growling and salivating like he was trained by Pavlov himself. So we had no choice but to go to get some cupcakes.

Phoebe's Cupcakes is a small and very cute shop with sweet, little Ikea tables and chairs. It's warm and inviting, the kind of atmosphere cupcakes deserve. We walked on up to the counter where we stood in awe of the beautiful creations in the glass case. They have a wide array of cupcake flavors in wonderfully bright colors. I had a Mudslide cupcake that had real Kahlua in it and a delicious chocolaty-coffee frosting. We also tried a strawberry cupcake that had REAL strawberries blended into the frosting. It was so fresh and sweet, you can really taste the difference compared to other store-bought cupcakes.

Phoebe's always carries the basics: chocolate, vanilla, Funfetti, red velvet, and salted caramel cupcakes. But the other flavors like Mudslide, lemon, Dr. Pepper, and Grasshopper cupcakes change on a weekly basis. It's enough to bring you back every week just to see what they will come up with next. The cake is always moist and flavorful and the frosting is delightfully whipped and never too sweet. One word of caution though: if you buy a dozen to take home, make sure those babies get in the fridge ASAP. I carried my box a mile home and all the frosting slid off those cupcakes! Don't worry. Of course I scooped all the finger-licking frosting back on and put them safely in the fridge. But, I will definitely avoid heat and humidity in the future.

Everyone who works at Phoebe's is fun, nice, and genuinely enthusiastic about cupcakes. We loved hanging out and eating at this place and we didn't want to leave!

In today's review:

Phoebe's Cupcakes
3327 N. Broadway
(773) 868-4000

My Girlfriend Meli

Friday, April 10, 2009

My first post! Yay!
OK, here's the deal. This place is delicious. Like, REAL delicious. Located in Greektown, Meli's Cafe & Juice Bar is a sweet spot to get some fantastic breakfast/brunch/lunch. Whether you're getting the "Meli’s French Toast" (challah bread dipped in honey custard and drizzled with honey), the classic Eggs Benedict, or the Banana Crepe, you won't be disappointed in what they have to offer. Although Brynn, Katelyn, and I only ate from the breakfast menu, I have no doubt that the lunch menu is just as delicious as their morning selection; filled with groovy paninis, scrumptious sandwiches, delectable wraps, and filling salads. Sweet, savory, old, new, plain, exotic; they've got it all!

In addition to food, Meli's also has a full juice bar where you can get shots of wheatgrass, berry smoothies, tea, and more. While these options are a little expensive, they are well worth the price. They also make their own seasonal marmalades that you can purchase at a reasonable price. Mm-mmm!

Appropriately priced, bright, and tasty, Meli's Cafe is highly recommended!
Meli's Cafe & Juice Bar
301 S Halsted StChicago, IL 60607
(312) 454-0748

My Best Friend Lou

Monday, March 9, 2009

Everyone knows that Gordon is my best friend. That was until I met Lou Malnati. When a new location of this Chicago chain opened in the South Loop, I knew we had to go.

I can't speak for every franchise of this chain, but this new one is fantastic. Large windows let in a ton of light and the place has a real homey feel to it. It is a family style restaurant with comfortable seating perfect for kids and larger groups. The only downside is that it is located right next to the brand new Xsport gym. You know, just to rub in the guilt after downing multiple slices of cheesy deep-dish goodness.

A pizzeria is always a great place to bring a big group of people because you can just order a bunch of pies and everyone will have something they like. Since we all wanted to try something new, we got four individual pan pizzas. At $5.50 this is a ridiculously delicious and filling bargain! Toppings cost extra though, so they can add up quickly. At lunch time you can get a special that includes a personal pan, side salad, and can of soda for only about $7. When you order a pizza the waiter will ask something like, "Would you like to-". At that point you should just cut him off and say YES because he is talking about adding the butter crust option to your pizza. Indulgent golden, buttery thick crust. Seriously, it is 50 cents extra, just do it. You think the pizza on the header of this page looks good? This is even better! Be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes as all pizzas are made fresh to order.

For starters we recommend the spinach bread. A small loaf of bread stuffed with melted cheese and spinach, served with chunky marinara sauce on the side. It is a perfect sized appetizer for about three people, and could actually work as your entree if you are not super hungry.

Lou Malnati's pizza is so tasty I'm considering naming my first child Lou. No, not really. But definitely my first kitten. Sorry Gordon, but Lou is the man.

In today's review:

Lou Malnati's
805 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Oui oui, Monsieur Crepe Dude!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Feeling like some traditional French cuisine? You must check out La Creperie which is conveniently located near the intersection of Clark and Diversey. The second that you walk in, you are instantly captivated by a sugary blast of air. It will take your mind off the interior of the restaurant which has definitely seen better days; faded wallpaper hangs onto the walls for dear life and every chair in the place is hopelessly wobbly. Yet, it is somehow romantically charming. Plus, the delightful smell of crepes will make those minor set backs more than bearable. Cabaret music plays lightly in the background, totally solidifying the quaint French atmosphere.

The menu features perfectly created crepes, that come either sweet or savory. Sweet options include sugary crepes filled with butter, Nutella, or a wide range of fruit fillings. Whatever you like, La Creperie is more than willing to let you play with the menu and choose your own adventure. For example, we thought banana and Nutella would make a great combination, and our waitress agreed. A few minutes later when we devoured the crepe, we too decided it was a wise choice. In the savory department, crepes come stuffed with fillings like egg and cheese, chicken and veggies, or ratatouille. Whether you want a meal or dessert, they have you covered.

If for some inane reason you head to La Creperie not craving crepes, there are other menu options. Have a traditional escargots appetizer, tasty croque madame, or French onion soup. Although this tiny eatery does not claim to be a cafe, they make a beautiful cappuccino sprinkled to perfection with cinnamon. Another great thing about this place is the prices. The majority of the crepes are $10 or under and perfect for sharing with friends. The owner of the place bustles around striking up conversations and singing to himself while cleaning off tables. You would have to have a heart of stone not to find this absolutely adorable. Judging by how the owner and staff act and by how I felt after the meal, it is safe to say that these crepes are edible happiness. For even more French fun, go on a Thursday night to hear live music from 8-11pm.

In today's review:

La Creperie
2845 N Clark
Chicago, IL 60657

The New Kid on the Block

Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Wednesday evening Brynn and I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of Chicago's newest Indian food restaurant: Chutney Joe's. Conveniently located on the first floor of the University Center on South State St., Joe's is a great place to stop for a quick lunch.

The place is fast food/diner style rather than a traditional sit down restaurant. You step up to a long counter and create a meal out of the eight available dishes. Four are curries featuring simmered meats like chicken tikka masala, lamb, pork vindaloo, and beef. The other four are vegetarian like saag paneer (spinach and cheese), bean curry, chickpea masala, and aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato). Chutney Joe's unique menu lets you make a combo of two of the eight dishes plus a scoop of rice or generous piece of naan bread. This combo is a large and filling portion and runs you only $7.99. Smaller portioned meals includes one of the entrees in a rice bowl or wrapped in a piece of naan.

Of course there are other tempting little morsels after you create a combo. Like the vegetable samosas. Crispy and flavorful, these were really good although tiny compared to versions at other restaurants. All vegans will be happy to know the the samosas and two of the veggie dishes are 100% vegan. Last but not least at the checkout counter you can sample all six flavors of chutney at no extra charge. The cilantro chutney is perfect on the samosas and the mango is sweet and tangy!

Since the place just opened, the managers and employees are still working out the kinks. My order of samosas (that includes two pieces) was confused as two separate orders, and I got charged an extra $3 by mistake. After getting the refund straightened out my meal was already cold. Good thing it was still tasty!

As is usually the case, I thought the dishes could be a bit spicier, but Brynn found the flavoring to be perfect. We loved how each table had a card with instructions on how to cool off food that was too spicy for you. If you are new to Indian food, this might just be the best place to start. With it's low prices and simple menu, you will not be overwhelmed or wary of trying a new dish. Just go for it!

In Today's Review:

Chutney Joe's
521 South State St.
Chicago, IL 60605

Lito and Molly ROCK Our World!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For one of our last Tuesday Lunch before Winter Break it was Gordon's  duty to pick a place to go. Now, usually Gordon gets us lost and we end up having to eat somewhere, anywhere we end up, but this time Gordon did a great job. ;p
He told us we would be going to a small, but cute empanada place in Lincoln Park called Lito's Empanadas. You have to remember it was December in Chicago and there were a bunch of hungry college and working young adults ready for a sit down meal, so we were a bit weary. As we got into the area though, we realized how lively and beautiful it was. It has shops, bakery's, and apartments and it's very much of a young, hip area to be in. We approached the little "hole in the wall" store front and were  surprised to see how beautiful the inside of the shop is. It is fully decorated and very tidy, being that it doesn't have much space. There were a few bar stool chairs to sit at, but it's completely an "order out" kind of place. They have veggie options as well as meat. 
As soon as we got in, we all could smell the food and forgot about our concerns. We all ordered one after another and the only problem I had was that they took a while to make them, all the while we could see that they had been pre-made and frozen and shouldn't have taken so long. But that aside, we got our orders and headed out to the Argo Tea close by to get drinks and try our new delights. They turned out to be just AMAZING! Warm, fresh, and tasty; perfect to forget about the weather outside. 
After enjoying our meal and our warm tea we decided to look around a bit and found a great desert place; Molly's Cupcakes. We stood outside of the store front and looked at each other knowing we HAD to go in. The place, to put it simply, is magical. They have swings attached to the ceiling, board games to play while you enjoy your desert, and a vast menu of yummy things to choose from. They even have a sprinkle bar to personalize your cupcake! In addition, the service was friendly and the environment was warm and comfy. 

I would recommend that if you have a few hours to explore,  have a date, or you just want to try something new, that you travel out to Lincoln Park and enjoy this double special treat!

Litos Empanadas:
2566 N Clark St
(between Deming Pl & Wrightwood Ave)
Chicago, IL 60614

Molly's Cupcakes:
2536 N Clark St
(between Deming Pl & Wrightwood Ave)
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 883-7220

A Little Pick Me Up

Friday, December 19, 2008

On one particularly cold and snowy night, we ran many blocks up Clark Street to find a sweet little cafe that our friend Danielle recommended. Finally, we made it to Pick Me Up Cafe and hurried in out of the cold. When I first stepped in I got a feeling of instant warmth. Not just from being indoors; the whole place felt cozy and friendly. It was not crowded that night, but some tables were full with a great mix of people. Families with small children and college-aged kids.

We were seated in a cute booth and ordered some drinks. I had hot apple cider that was crisp and sweet, and just delicious enough to make me forget about the weather outside. Gordon had a smoothie and Brynn had a delicious, rich mocha drink. They offer organic coffee and prepare beverages way better than most coffee shops.

The menu at Pick Me Up is just as diverse as its patrons. There is a full breakfast section available all the time, classic American diner food, and entrees inspired by Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine. We started with an appetizer of cheese fries that were golden and extremely indulgent.

I tried the falafel wrap which was good and came with a side of vegetarian chili that was terrific. I could have just had a bowl of the chili to eat, it was that hearty. I felt that the falafel could have been seasoned more, but I can't complain otherwise. Gordon had a giant sandwich that was comprised of three different types of deli meats. This sandwich was nearly too tall for him to eat, but don't worry. He put up a brave fight and thoroughly decimated it. We had this meal before leaving for Christmas, and no one can remember what Brynn ate Seriously... everyone is blanking. We all got distracted because we exchanged gifts over dinner. At least that's my excuse.

The staff of Pick Me Up is comprised of hip, tattooed folks who are friendly and don't mind putting up with customers who can't decide on what to get. They will also gladly make recommendations. And you can get food from them anytime as the cafe is open 24 hours. With most entrees under $10 each, you can afford to splurge on a fancy drink or appetizer. There are many vegetarian and vegan options as well as manly and meaty items that have been Gordon-approved. Next time you're down for a good meal, find yourself a little Pick Me Up.

In Today's Review:

Pick Me Up Cafe
3408 N Clark St

Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-6613