A Review: Momotaro

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Every time I ask anyone if they have been to Momotaro, I get the same reaction: Make a reservation, go as soon as you can. I don’t take culinary dares lightly so a reservation was procured and a month later, our table was ready.

They were so right.

And you know who else was right? Our server. Thank goodness for her expert guidance because the Momotaro menu is extensive. We pointed out a few things we knew we wanted (raw tuna anything, short ribs) but for the most part, we opted for more of an omakase approach: respectfully leaving to another to decide what’s best (i.e. the faroe islands salmon, the bbq eel rice, and heaven help me if that piece of squid nigiri wasn’t the best thing on earth).

Everything last detail of Momotaro is meticulous, from the plating to the decor to how they prepare the food. There are several kitchens: one for wood-fired dishes, and the sushi bar that is the centerpiece of the dining room, letting you see the chefs at work. The hallway to the restroom features a mural with close to a million ink strokes. And back to the food- if serving steak on it’s own personal grill atop a banana leaf isn’t detail oriented, I don’t know what is.

momotaro steak

Let’s just say this wagyu striploin officially made me someone who enjoys red meat. Cooked to perfection, just under the medium rare we requested, allowing for it to cook just a teeny bit further on the charcoal grill it arrived on.

Beyond being one of the best meals we have ever eaten, the entire evening was an experience and really, a whole lot of fun. It wasn’t a special occasion but by the time we left (2+ hours later!) it felt like it had been.

Momotaro Kitchen

Riverwalk Dance Party

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Chicago Riverwalk


I left the office wearing my trench coat this evening because, apparently, July is coat season. I decided to walk off my schlumpy mood on the River and, of course, happened upon this band that was just starting a little concert. Because Chicago is a magical unicorn angel.

Fact: a GREAT mood is the only mood when you’re tapping your feet and shimmying along with strangers.

Riverwalk Chicago

I danced and clapped and watched other people dancing and clapping for the better part of 40 minutes. It started to rain so I started to head home. I had zero regard for the falling water because I was so happy so I walked along the new Riverwalk and my goodness, high five City of Chicago because you did something really well with this. Gorgeous, well lit…and THERE IS WINE. A City Winery pop-up is tucked into one of the stone arches and I will not be foolish and not know this again.




House of Blues

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House of Blues

For living in a city that has large amounts of tourism, I don’t find myself dismissing anything as being “for tourists” very often.

Case in point: I love the architecture tour; it is chock full of information every Chicagoan should know and when don’t you want to be on a boat on the river? The Bean: I will be the first taking selfies in this gem of reflection plunked in the middle of our fair city. Also in this category? The House of Blues.

Originally started in Boston by James Belushi, Aerosmith and Dan Akroyd (among others), this concert venue downtown has become a staple for music in Chicago. It was the first place I saw a concert with my now-husband (a Journey cover band, obviously) and I went back last night with girlfriends to see Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond cover band (despite my experiences, House of Blues hosts non-cover band bands too…allegedly). After some sushi and cocktails at Sunda, we headed to the HOB, got wrist-banded up and danced along to songs we knew and songs we didn’t. Tucked in Marina City, the venue is small enough to be personal but big enough to make you feel like you’re really at a legit concert. Super Diamond was great; the lead singer summed it up when he said “We love Neil Diamond and we want YOU to love Neil Diamond”. While I am not a Neil connoisseur by any means, live music and a dance party surround by people who know every word, well, that is a recipe for a good night.

They also serve alcohol. Helpful.

All of those things combined means that the House of Blues delivered last night and I would have been remiss to have overlooked it in lieu of an underground, out of the way music venue the cool kids are going to these days. Because real talk, “Sweet Caroline” always feels so, so good when you belt it out at the top of your lungs and that likely removes me from the cool kids music club anyways.


Super Diamond


Alliance Patisserie: A Public Dessert Announcement

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One of the best birthday cakes I have ever tasted was from Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park. So much better than a cake should even be, this thing had to be made out of unicorn tears and sunbeams…it was that good.

Fast forward to everyone on the corner of State Street and Ontario looking at me as I shrieked “ohmigod!” a few weeks ago upon seeing an Alliance Patisserie in the old Grahamwich spot. I sprinted across the street and threw open the door to find rows and rows of gorgeous, brightly colored macarons. I was so excited to fill up a box with my selections that I completely missed that they, apparently, have cronuts. And Bowtruss coffee. Yes!

If I hadn’t been heading to Michigan that very moment, I would have ordered a cappuccino to dip my cronut in and sat down in the delightful patisserie for the rest of the morning. Instead, I took my macarons on the road and I am happy to report a few of them made it to my mom.

{I highly recommend the balsamic fig and pistachio}

This has been a public dessert announcement.

In Review: Cocello

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The Negroni became our cocktail of choice on our honeymoon. One part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari and garnished with an orange, this bitter cocktail has been a favorite of mine since I studied abroad in college. After having one for the first time in Rome, my husband declared that he would try one every night until he determined the best Negroni in Italy (verdict: a tie between The St Regis Rome & La Sireneuse in Positano).

Upon our return to home sweet home Chicago, the quest for the best Negroni continued. When our buddy JD told us that Cocello in River North had FOUR different kinds of Negroni, well, it’s all Ryan has been able to talk about when discussing restaurant resos. And since it’s owned by the group who also does Bavette’s, one of our absolute favorites, he didn’t have to twist my arm so on Saturday, we made it to Cocello.

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The cocktails were fantastic and with every dish we ordered was just better than it should have been. This regular ol’ meatball? Exploding with flavor! The marinara sauce? Perfection. The cacio e pepe and orecchiette with sausage were perfectly prepared with the pasta being perfectly al dente and, again…exceeded our expectations. Everything was just so, so good.

The restaurant itself was beautiful, cozy and classic with a relaxed, comfortable vibe. We tucked in to our table by the fireplace and had the loveliest little date. We were too stuffed to dig into dessert or their list of delicious looking after-dinner drinks but there’s always next time. And we had such a lovely meal and evening that there will definitely be a next time.

Verdict: high fives and clinking glasses all around!


White Christmas at The Music Box Theater

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You guys.

I included it in my Chicago Christmas guide but nothing could have prepared me for the spectacle that was actually attending a showing of White Christmas at The Music Box Theater.

You have to go. Seriously. A Christmas 2015 PRIORITY.

We went at noon on Christmas Eve with my mother, excited to see a favorite movie on a special day and there were carolers as we stepped inside the door. Totally unexpected. As was the enthusiasm of everyone working there. Same with the quotes from other Christmas movies on the bar menu wall. The man taking our tickets proclaimed we were in a great section (okay?) and said he believed in me. My husband said it meant he believed in me to find our seats but I will take it as he believes in me in general.

The carolers were actually part of the Chicago Chamber Choir and took to the stage for a full performance. At the end of a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (you guessed it), SANTA CLAUS CAME TO TOWN.


Santa then led a singalong of every Christmas carol you have ever heard of.

All of this with an audience that was either wearing matching shirts, antlers, velvet capes (seriously) and carrying jingle bells. Which they rang every time someone in the movie said the word “Christmas”.  I look over and Ryan is engaged in a conversation with the lady wearing a light up necklace sitting next to him and it was her family’s 13th year doing this and her sister just showed up married on Thursday and couldn’t believe we didn’t bring our own bells (note to self: BYOBells next year).


It was such an ordeal, Christmas spirit on steroids. (Not) surprisingly, I cried so hard at the end of the movie. I have seen White Christmas a thousand times but it was to the point where we had to sit a few minutes for me to compose myself after the curtain had closed. I was just so happy. And it finally snowed in Pine Tree, Vermont.

In conclusion: when these tickets go on sale next year, buy them and go. Bring your own bells. And maybe decide on a matching group outfit.

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The Christmukkah Spirit

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Last week was a rough one, to be perfectly honest. Minor and major issues alike seemed to come to a head at once and by the time Friday rolled around, I was pretty emotionally and physically spent. The holiday lover in me was like “It’s Christmas! Nothing can be wrong at Christmas!” but life, you know? It happens regardless of if you would rather be watching The Santa Clause (which I would. All of the time.).

But on Saturday, we had a Christmukkah party to attend. In it’s 10th year, we were Christmukkah rookies and the event was everything I heard it would be and more. Great views of the skyline, really nice and interesting people, fantastic champagne punch…

and a box of White Castle burgers.

I grew up eating White Castle as very special treats at home when my Dad would buy them from the grocery store. He would tell me about how when he was a boy, his Dad would take him to White Castle when they would visit family in Chicago. To have an entire box of them at my fingertips at Christmukkah, well, it might as well have been a tray of caviar and gold plated lobster. “Ryan,” I whispered, “It’s White Castle” as we inched near the glorious table they were perched on. While hovering over the teeny paper thin burgers, we met a woman named Nicki who shared our incredulity. She is this wildly talented playwright, actress, dancer, musical theater goddess and was truly lovely but I will always know her as the sweet lady who ate White Castle burgers with us and shared her own White Castle burger stories.

After a few glasses of champagne punch and 2 little White Castles, the Christmukkah spirit was upon us and every gross thing that happened in the previous week was shaken off. A quick cab ride and some shopping later, I cemented my festive mood with eggnog at Nico Osteria.


Because that is what is good about Christmukkah and Chicago- you’re only a quick attitude change away from White Castle and a holiday cocktail.

Let’s be merry this week, shall we?

Holiday Bucket Listing

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Caroling at Cloudgate, Zoo Lights, impromptu cocktails, shopping…this weekend really took a bite out of my holiday bucket list. My family was in town to celebrate Christmas and it was such a fun mix of old traditions and new. The unseasonably warm temperatures was certainly something new; I am so used to doing our family festiveness while the biting cold hits my face! While I do love how beautiful Michigan Avenue looks covered in snow, being able to get away with wearing a blazer while running out to get one last gift for our celebration was quite a treat. And this city is just begging to be photographed in all of it’s holiday glory which was nice to be do without removing gloves every two seconds.

Still on the holiday deck: “White Christmas” viewing at The Music Box Theatre and somehow find that Santa Train. And maybe bake some cookies. If anyone has a recipe they love, please share!