restaurants

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market

Since starting IHABL I haven’t done nearly as many restaurant reviews as I’ve wanted to. Truth be told (and don’t tell my bank), but I go out to eat so much that by the time I’m ready to sit down and rave about a restauarnt, I’m oftentimes headed out the door to try another and become equally enthralled. (Sidenote: in high school my English teacher would take points off if you used certain “taboo words” — and oftentimes was one of them. To this day my heart skips a beat when I write out any of those words, as if something bad is going to happen because of it).

Anyway, this past Sunday my parents ventured into the city to bring me some final touches for my apartment. I’ve been wanting to take them to some of the cool restaurants in my neighborhood so I was excited when they agreed to go out to dinner with me (*cough cough* pay for dinner *cough cough*).

Eating with my family can be tricky: my mom doesn’t eat meat, I don’t eat red meat, my brother basically eats meat exclusively, and my dad will eat anything as long as a green vegetable isn’t within arms length. When I heard that my brother, god love him, wouldn’t be coming along, I jumped at the chance to take them to Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market.

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Fahlstrom’s is a restaurant that doubles as a fish market, so you can simply stop by, choose from 16 pieces of fresh fish daily, and prepare it at home yourself if you don’t feel like eating like a king and then having someone else clean up after you.

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The restaurant prides itself on a few things: 16 pieces of fresh fish to choose from daily (ever-changing based on season and availability), the cereal wall, breakfast anytime, and all-you-can-eat crab legs on Tuesdays. Oh, and The Crabster, but more on that later.

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Do you want a filet of mahi mahi or a bowl of Apple Jacks? No biggie, do both. (Say, WHAT?!)

The menu is…..overwhelming. There is a menu chalkboard on the wall, a menu they hand you as you sit down, and an additional piece of paper that lives on the table and offers even more choices. Truth be told it took 20 minutes AND the opinions of two servers before I could even settle on an appetizer. Somehow we managed, and soon enough the Shrimp Kargot was sitting before us. Boursin, garlic butter, Gruyere, Parmesan, garlic bread

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I don’t know how else to describe this except a garlic butter hot tub accompanied by a hunka hunka burning garlic bread love. There were some dirty deeds going on in that hot tub. The garlic was seeping into every pore of the protein and the shrimp were loving it. Aside from escargot, this was the most garlicky dish I’ve ever had and I was in utter ecstasy. It was so good I would unquestionably eat this on a first date because it would be so much more important to me that my date try this than save face by ordering a piece of grilled chicken and chewing Orbit all night in anticipation. But that’s irrelevant…

After another few minutes of looking over the menu, my parents and I decided to order three dishes and split them, as I have a serious case of Food FOMO and I think they could see the blips of sweat rolling down my face as I worried I was going to make the wrong decision.

First we went with The Crabster, one of the specialties at Fahlstrom’s and, in the words of our server, “what people come here for.” Hand-shucked and seasoned Alaskan King Crab on a toasted New England roll topped with creamy coleslaw.

Second up, the Alaskan King Crab Macaroni and Cheese. Crab, Gruyere cheese sauce…married and baked.

Finally, the Seafood Bisque Fettuccine. Filled to the brim with shrimp, scallops, fairy dust and magic.

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If you asked me to pick a favorite I would literally weep. The Crabster is what I would order again, because the other two were so heavy and rich that I felt like 16th-century royalty shoving them into my mouth as fast as possible. I wish I had a single negative thing to say about any of these dishes so you would better trust my authenticity, but everything was truly wonderful. The shrimp, crab, and scallops were cooked perfectly. They are very difficult proteins to master and just a few seconds can make the difference between underdone, perfect, and overdone. I also appreciated that Fahlstrom’s doesn’t skimp on the seafood. They take a stand for quality AND quantity, and they stick by it. There were huge pieces of crab in both the sandwich and the macaroni, and it definitely made it worth the price point. Wait, let’s just zoom in on that mac one more time:

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I only wish I stopped by for a later dinner so I could have enjoyed all these incredible eats with a glass of white wine. Until next time, Fahlstrom’s…..oh, and what’s the likelihood that you’ll deliver crab mac directly to my couch…..

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market

1258 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago IL, 60657

(773) 281-6000

Monday – Friday: 11am – 10pm

Saturday: 9am – 10pm | Sunday: 9am – 9pm

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slurping turtle meets pumpkin patch

I’m beginning to think I have a little bit of an addictive personality.

I’m either waaaaay on “this” end of the spectrum or waaaaay on “that” end.

Case in point, my weekend. Remember two weeks ago when I could barely recollect all the beer I drank? This weekend I spent both Friday and Saturday nights watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory and eating microwave popcorn. Big things happening over here.

I did have two highlights though, which can’t be forgotten amidst the bliss that was my laid back weekend.

One, I tried a new restaurant in Chicago: Slurping Turtle!

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I’ve wanted to try this place for awhile now but to be honest I rarely crave Asian food. If I do it’s usually just a pad thai craving (a very specific pad thai craving which can only be fulfilled by a little hole-in-the-wall place in my hometown. Picky picky). But I was getting dinner with Spencer who is always up for trying new spots so we decided Slurping Turtle would be the perfect meeting spot since it’s one of “those” places you have to try once in the city.

Do you have one of those friends who you know will be in your life forever, even if you only see each other every few months? Spencer is that friend.

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First of all, I love dining with people who a) want to get a drink and b) will split an adventurous appetizer with me. Spencer and I decided to try a light Japanese beer (when in Rome, right?) and split an out-of-this world starter special. I wish I could remember the name of the sauce but basically it was crab legs covered in butter on top of some stir fried bok choy. I could have eaten a mountain of that stuff.

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The star of the show was, of course, the ramen. Sidenote: I’ve never had ramen before. I was determined when I went off to college that I would always be “that person” who never tried ramen. Pretentious much?

Well this wasn’t exactly dorm room fare: We both had the Tan Tan Men Ramen (spicy) — homemade ramen noodles, pork meatball, pork chashu, pork miso, bok choy, and bean sprouts.

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My thoughts ranged from: “Wow this is the spiciest thing I’ve had in my life” to “Thank god this isn’t a first date this is the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten” to “How in god’s name am I supposed to break up this meatball with my chopsticks?” Overall it was freaking delicious. I’m so glad I took the plunge and went pork-crazy (sometimes I can be a little weird about meat) because it was everything I’d heard about and more. The reviews were correct: Slurping Turtle has the best ramen in Chicago.

The other highlight of the weekend was a trip to a pumpkin patch with a few friends on Saturday. I, along with every other human being on the planet, apparently decided that this Saturday was THE day to go to a pumpkin patch so it was crowded (almost as crowded as my Facebook newsfeed with girls in their boots, flannel shirts and apple cider. No judgment. I am one of you).

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The nice thing about this trip was that we went to an actual farm. It was run by a family who converts their home and farm into a fall afternoon getaway for all the other suburbanites to take their kids on an October afternoon. Not only did we see lots of farm animals (including a llama and a miniature horse – Little Sebastian, anyone?) and get our pumpkin fix in, but we enjoyed a hay ride and learned all about different gourds. You learn something new everyday, I tell ya.

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So from Asian delicacy delights to fall-mania, I was perfectly happy to have spent my nights relaxing and catching up on some sleep. Okay that’s not true but I did catch up on some shows (equally important) and I didn’t poison my body with Natty Light.

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Questions:

  • What cultural cuisine do you crave most often? I always crave Mexican food
  • Favorite Asian cuisine: Chinese, Thai, sushi, Vietnamese….go!
  • Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet this year? Are you planning on it?

weekend happenings

This weekend was full of firsts.

First apple picking of the season

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It was insanely hot for October (hence the shorts) but doing activities like this make me so happy because I get to enjoy all that fall in the Midwest has to offer.  Plus this apple orchard was less than ten minutes from my house and I had no idea! I’ll definitely be back this season.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my apples…

First time at The Signature Room of the Hancock Building

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I’m still really mad that this came out blurry. We asked one of the security guys there to take a pic and he took half a dozen, ALL blurry. Oh well we can all just pretend.

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Champagne is my favorite!

Please excuse the quality of these pictures…being the fancy place it was, the lighting was pretty dim. My flash went off once and I just felt my classy factor plummet so I put an end to that.

First time eating lobster (hey, when in Rome)

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Lobster bisque (to die for)

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Twin lobster tails with three cheese cous cous, swiss chard, and citrus butter.

Too much decadence.

The whole experience at The Signature Room was magical. I’m a foodie but I don’t go out for high class meals like this often, so it was a really nice treat! I felt like a grown up 🙂

First time crafting a new fall wreath

Before:

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After:

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It might not look like much, but my mom and I took off a ton of the old leaves and fake red berries and replaced them with a ton of vibrant berries with a beautiful fall palette.

First time trying Turkish Get Ups

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This workout was pretty focused on practicing the new movement, so after we were done I headed to the gym to get in some time on the elliptical.  It was fun to learn a whole new high-function movement, though!  If you’re interested, feel free to check this out : 7 Secrets of the Turkish Getup

Oh, and it’s hella awkward. I’ve never done anything like this before so it was weird at first. But after a few times I can see why it’s an effective workout.

In other news…

I’m also using this time to really get a fire under my butt about what the next step is for my life. I’m using the new season as an excuse to jump-start my job search and self-discovery. There’s no better time than now, and I realize I need to make some big decisions before I start to get distracted by the holidays. It’s a crazy time, and it’s only going to get crazier!

I hope you all had a great weekend! I’ll be back tomorrow with a new recipe (perfect for the chilly weather!)

Question:

  • What’s the fanciest place you’ve ever eaten?

 

Weekend Happenings: Illini edition!

I had a great time this weekend! So much so that the thought of whipping out the computer to blog just seemed irreverent 🙂

So here I am, another Monday is here, and the one thing getting me through it is reminiscing about my fun Saturday.

It all started bright and early with the official opening celebration of my local bootcamp!

I woke up earlier than normal because it was beautiful fall weather and I wanted to bike there.

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Biking in Fall weather is amazing. It was sunny but crisp and I biked the three miles or so through town and to bootcamp.

ImageIt was my first partner workout! I was paired with a middle aged woman and she was just the sweetest! That’s what I love about Crossfit-like workouts…anyone with any skill level can work together and as long as you know your limits and how to modify the workout, it doesn’t matter.  I love working with people and motivating them to kick their own butt! It was a fun class full of running and rowing.  The ring rows were the toughest for me because my upper body strength is definitely lacking.

After I biked home I walked into the house to a great surprise: whole wheat french toast!

ImageI grabbed two slices, drowned them in maple syrup, and served them alongside two eggs.  If I don’t eat some protein with breakfast I’ll be hungry ten minutes later so eggs were definitely necessary.  It was such a nice change-up from my normal breakfasts!

The plan for the day was to get to the Illini game at Soldier Field so I caught a train downtown and met up Zman at Navy Pier for a little pre-game date 🙂

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We ate outside on the patio of Bubba Gump Shrimp. It was the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather.

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If you’re even at Navy Pier I highly recommend Bubba Gump. It was fairly inexpensive and pretty delicious, but the highlight of the meal was our waiter.  He asked us trivia about the movie Forrest Gump throughout our meal which made it a really lighthearted and interactive experience. I was so impressed because Zman knew EVERY answer! He’s a real movie buff, apparently. Who knew 🙂

We started out with a popcorn shrimp appetizer (mostly because Zman was ready to eat his arm if he didn’t get food asap). I was so happy because he usually refuses to touch any kind of seafood but today hunger overruled!

ImageZman is also a sucker for fruity drinks so when he saw the waiter walk by with some of the famous Bubba Gump cocktails he knew we had to try one.

ImageI tried some and that thing is dangerous! So sweet that you wouldn’t even realize what you’re drinking 😉

For my entree I ordered a berry and shrimp salad, which came out beautifully.

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After our mini-date, we walked from Navy Pier to Soldier Field (another 3 miles!) and found our seats for the game.

ImageThe best thing about Soldier Field is that there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It’s a relatively small stadium, so even from the 400-level we could see every play.

It was a good game! We definitely have low expectations for our football team haha so the fact that we kept up and made it a good game was great for the fans.  I didn’t even mind the loss because I ran into one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school, Frank! I love it when that happens.

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Once the game was over we walked with masses the Museum of Science and Industry, where most people were drunkenly stumbling onto buses and into cabs.  Luckily, Zman is a fan of walking so we decided another three mile walk would be better than waiting for that mess.

I love Chicago. Have I made that clear yet?

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After getting back to the apartment and watching The League while we recuperated, we had some friends over and decided to go to Wrigleyville for a bit.  Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time at the bars, it’s always good to get out to that area. The people watching, ESPECIALLY after midnight, is hilarious! No pictures from the bars but I obviously did document the most important part of the night:

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No night out is complete without a 2am pizza run!

It was a blast of a day! It felt a little like we were back in college, which I’ll never say no to 😉

Question: what’s your favorite late-night food after you’ve gone out?