I eat: Traif

Our experience at Traif could not have started out any worse. We arrived 30 mins late because I thought our reservation was at 8:30PM – it was actually at 8:00PM. The hostess offered us the bar since our table had obviously been given away and we accepted. As we were settling in and figuring out what to order, the hostess came by and said she would be able to move us to a table (outside in the patio area) if we didn’t mind waiting about 10 minutes. Even though it actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes, we were so delighted and grateful! The hostess was more than awesome :) .. too bad I can’t say the same for our waitress.

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Amuse bouche – Moroccan lentil soup

Delicious and oh so comforting on a cold, rainy night.

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Seared scallops, butternut squash, huckleberries, pistachios, sage

The scallops were perfectly cooked and I loved the sweet and nutty aspect of the sauce.

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Crispy pork belly, cauliflower, peperoncini, romesco, parsley-garlic

Hmm, honestly, I don’t really remember this one. Not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The dish was just not memorable either way.

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Butterfish carpaccio, grapefruit, avocado, mint, sesame, soy

The avocado enhanced the creaminess of the butterfish and the grapefruit brought a refreshing element to the dish. YUM!

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Gemelli pasta, blue crab, fresh black truffles, braised leeks

I’ve read many complaints about this dish, specifically regarding the lack of crab. While I agree that there could have been more crab (who doesn’t want more crab?), this dish was one of my favorites. The crab was not the star of the dish, but I couldn’t have cared less because I’m a sucker for truffles.

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Joe’s chopped chicken livers, balsamic-bacon toasts, rosemary & shallots

LOVED. LOVED. LOVED this! The balsamic drizzle added a bit of sweetness and paired well with the chicken liver pate.

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Salt & pepper spicy white shrimp, golden pineapple, sweet potatoes

When I read salt & pepper spicy shrimp, I didn’t expect to see this; I was thinking more along the lines of Asian salt and pepper shrimp. Although I liked the shrimp itself, the combination of pineapple and sweet potatoes didn’t work for me.

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Seared foie, fingerlings, ham chips, sunny egg, maple, hot sauce

This dish reminded me of the foie gras loco moco at Animal (one of my favorite dishes EVER). It wasn’t as good, but certainly isn’t far behind. How can a dish with foie, potatoes and egg not be good?

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Sautéed veal sweetbreads, roast mushrooms, green garlic, spinach

By this time, we were so damn full, our buttons were about to pop off. I liked the earthiness of the mushrooms and green garlic, but the dish would have been much better had the sweetbreads been accompanied with something that would have provided a contrast in texture instead of spinach. Henry isn’t a big fan of sweetbreads because of the texture so even though I was already extremely stuffed, I basically finished the dish myself. oof.

We definitely learned the hard way that 8 dishes is wayyyy too ambitious! No regrets though, we had a great meal.

Verdict: 4/5
Traif
229 S 4th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

I eat: The Purple Pig

I looked at the Purple Pig’s menu multiple times when planning Foodcation 2010, but I didn’t get the “OMG, I have to eat here” feeling so the restaurant never made it onto our itinerary.

Fast forward to our last night in Chicago.

We didn’t have time to eat before our fireworks cruise so by the time it ended (around 10:30PM), we were starving. Using our fabulous new phones (HTC Evo), we searched for the closest place to eat. Well, what do ya know. The first restaurant listed was the Purple Pig. The food gods must have wanted us to eat here.

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The Purple Pig, whose tag line is “Cheese, Swine and Wine”, is located on Mag Mile, two blocks north of the Michigan Ave. bridge. The Mediterranean inspired dishes are served tapas style so we ordered 5 + dessert.

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(1) Shrimp & Clams with Rosamarina
(2) Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs
(3) Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes
(4) Scallop Spiedini with Chickpea Aioli
(5) Jamon Serrano with Duck Egg, Asparagus, Grilled Bread

I can’t really say one dish was my favorite; they were all so delicious!!!! The shrimp and clams were so light and refreshing, the bone marrow was rich and decadent, the pork shoulder and scallops were perfectly tender and oh my gosh, you all know how much I LOVE runny eggs!

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(6) Butterscotch Bodino

What a great ending to a fantastic meal! The butterscotch pudding was thick, smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness. YUM!!

Fate works in funny ways. I’m really glad it led us to the Purple Pig.

Verdict: 5/5
The Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

I eat: Amada

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Biggest.Disappointment.Ever.

Right off the bat, I found the food unappetizing. We started off with the garlic shrimp and the dish was overly salty. Usually when we order shrimp, I’m all over it, but this time, I couldn’t get myself to eat more than two pieces.

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I tried to rationalize that the garlic shrimp was the exception; the next dish had to be better right? Wrong. The chefs in the kitchen went to town with the salt that night. By the third dish, I starting feeling a little sick.

We held on to hope that the saving grace of this meal would be the $38 Paella Valenciana (House Specialty). Wrong again. This dish was just as salty as the tapas, if not more. I tried to eat as much of it as I could since it was pricey, but I really couldn’t stomach more than a couple of bites.

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I’m not sure if this was just an off night for Amada; according to Yelp, Amada is one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia. But based on my experience, it’s not likely that I’ll return to Amada. Ever.

Verdict: 2/5
Amada
217-219 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

I eat: Lazy Ox Canteen

I ♥ having foodie friends :)

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Our original plan was to go to Bottega Louie, but we weren’t down to wait a long time for a table so we opted for Lazy Ox Canteen instead. Definitely wasn’t an issue for me since Lazy Ox has been on my list of restaurants to try for a few months now. We called before we left to get the scoop on the place and the hostess promised us a table outside in the patio area, but when we arrived, she couldn’t come through and even though I should have been pissed at the situation, I was actually glad we didn’t get that table since it was freezing COLD outside! The four of us took up the offer to sit at the communal table, which we basically had all to ourselves for almost the entire dinner.

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In addition to the items on the printed menu, there were also dishes listed on a blackboard that you could order. I have bad eyesight to begin with and I’ve worn my two week disposable contacts for about a month now so it was a little difficult to read the board. For our first round, we decided to order three dishes: yellowtail, ravioli and mussels.

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The white soy marinated yellowtail was my favorite dish of the night. I usually don’t like avocado, but paired with the yellowtail, it added a creamy element to the texture of the fish. The brown wedges in the picture were delicious, crispy hash browns. Since all of us at the table love mussels, we just had to order some. We chose the ever-so-popular brick roasted mussels and they certainly did not disappoint. The sauce was fantastic, the mussels were plump and best of all, there was bread to soak up the excess sauce. BTW, I think it should be MANDATORY to serve mussels with pieces of bread since drinking the sauce straight up can seem kind of ridiculous and desperate, but I understand, desperate times call for desperate measures. As for the ravioli, I’m ashamed for not being able to remember what was in it, but trust, it was good!

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have the same luck with our second round order: roasted cauliflower, soft shell crab with okra, grilled squid and abalone. According to the waitress, the roasted cauliflower was a popular choice, but I felt like it was something I could have made at home, easily. The soft shell crab had a nice batter, but other than that, it was plain and ordinary. And don’t even get me started on the grilled squid – yuck. The abalone was ok, the capers were a nice touch.

We were anticipating on ordering tapioca brulee for dessert since we saw a picture of it on Yelp, but we were denied! :( It wasn’t available. Our waitress suggested the chilled rice pudding in place of it. Good call, lady!

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Nom nom nom!!!

Verdict: 3/5
Lazy Ox Canteen
241 South San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA 90012