Gilt Bar, Chicago (Part Deux)

I shared my experience at Gilt Bar a few weeks ago (in a word: amazing!) but if you just couldn’t get enough, you should head over to my friend Alex’s blog, Sassy Confetti, and read her review.

And if you happen to be a Chicagoan who loves restaurants, I suggest you check her out on the regular. This girl LOVES to go out to eat!



Gilt Bar, Chicago

Are you sick of hearing about my trip to Chicago yet? This is the last post, I’m promise!

For Alex‘s birthday dinner (a day early, we had some serious day drinking to do on her actual birthday), I treated her to a fantastic meal at Gilt Bar. I can’t take any credit for picking the restaurant, that was all Alex. Girlfriend knows her Chi-Town hot-spots.

Gilt Bar has a very dark and sexy ambiance. At first it felt almost too dark and sexy but I was pleasantly surprised to find each table had a soft spotlight shining down from the ceiling. A very clever way to keep the venue dark but allow diners to see one another while really showcasing the food.

The best thing about dining with my dear friend Alex is that we have very similar palates. Because of that, we can always order items to share.

After settling on a bottle of Pinot Noir, we dove into the menu. We decided to order a starter, two entrees, and two sides, all to share.

To start we ordered from the “On Toast” section of the menu. There were a lot of delicious sounding options but we decided to go with the most basic, sweet balsamic, roasted garlic and olive oil.

sweet balsamic roasted garlic & olive oil

This dish was just beyond. I wanted to bathe in the sauce, sweet but not too tarte and just enough roasted garlic. Simple and amazing. I may have to make an attempt this dish at home.

Since we are both serious meat and potatoes kind of gals, we ordered the beef pot roast and a side of smashed potatoes. We are also suckers for anything with truffles so the truffle pasta was a no-brainer. To round out the meal with some veggies, we ordered the brussels sprouts as a side.

spoon tender beef pot roast with red wine & glazed root vegetables

smashed potatoes with roasted garlic & chicken jus

caramelized brussels sprouts, pork belly, maple & parmesan

(truffle pasta not pictured, sorry!)

Each dish was so rich and decadent, between the two of us we were only able to eat about half of each dish. Perhaps we over-indulged a bit on the bread. This wasn’t a bad thing though. It meant we had the perfect amount of leftovers to munch on after Alex’s birthday festivities the next day. Everything was just as delicious the second time around.

Ann Sather, Chicago

When I’m spending the day gallivanting around Chicago with Alex, a big, hearty breakfast is very necessary. Before tackling our to-do and to-see lists last Friday, we stopped by Belmont location of Ann Sather for brunch.

At this charming, Swedish cafe slash diner, you can get a generous breakfast with amazing sides and a coffee, for less than $10. It could be that I’m jaded by prices on the East Coast, but this is a steal.

I ordered bacon & eggs, while Alex ordered a breakfast wrap. Between the two of us we spilt a total of four (yes, four!) sides; we each received two with our order. Ann Sather is known for their cinnamon rolls, we couldn’t not order them! We also also ordered toast, hash browns and fruit.

Service was fast and friendly. Definitely a delicious stop to make on a trip to Chicago. Be sure to order the cinnamon rolls, just look at how delectable they are!

Centro To Go

One of my favorite restaurants in my college town (Fairfield, CT) is Centro on Post Rd. The bread is always served warm with olive oil, tables of all ages are given crayons to color the white paper over the table cloths and everything I’ve ever ordered has been delicious.

In college, it was one of the places your parents would take you to when they came to visit or where you’d go with your girlfriends for a birthday dinner.

During senior year, we discovered Centro To Go. For less than $16 for two or $27 for four, you got fresh homemade pasta, fresh homemade sauce, bread, olives and caeser salad to put together in the comfort of your own home. Simple and amazing.

Now that Ben and I are living back in the FC (Fairfield County) Centro To Go is one of my favorite meals to pick-up when we are passing through Fairfield.

For Valentine’s Day, instead of an expensive meal out, we planning to get Centro To Go and Ben surprised me by taking care of it all. He set the table, picked up some wine and chocolate, and we ate some delicious linguine with vodka sauce. Ben picked up the package for two and we had enough for us each to bring left overs to work the next day.

Book Club Spread

I already told you my thoughts on The Marriage Plot, but it wasn’t until Sunday that my book club met to discuss. I made the trip into Manhattan and headed to my friend Landrie’s adorable apartment below Houston.

This is the beautiful spread she put together, complete with fresh flowers.

See those biscuits? Made by yours truly. My first venture into the world of biscuits. It’s a world that I very much enjoy. Those aren’t just plain old biscuits, they are brown sugar bacon biscuits.

A few of the other girls contributed and we had quite the brunch so I thought I’d put together a Book Club Brunch Menu based on the spread we enjoyed.

Book Club Brunch Menu

Jalapeño and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits

Very Berry Fruit Salad


Monkey Bread

Darien Social

On Saturday, Ben and I ventured away from our normal Saturday routine of lounging at home to grab lunch at Darien’s newest spot, Darien Social. The gastro pub features craft brews and menu items for every mood; including pizza, burgers, and local cheeses.

When we arrived shortly after 1pm, a woman on her way out told us, “it’s worth the wait!” Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait at all.

Bread and butter served in a planter.

We contemplated the menu for some time. Everything sounded so good and looked so good, I can’t help but peak at other tables. we decided a good gastro pub is only as good as it’s burgers, so that’s what we ordered.

But first, we decided to start with the Kettle Chips, bbq potato chips with crumbled blue cheese. They were a little too spicy for my taste, lots of pepper on those guys. The blue cheese helped to cut the spiciness. Almost immediately after our appetizer arrived, our burgers were ready. I would have liked just a little more time enjoying the chips.

Ben, per usual, ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger. He was a very happy camper.

I went for the Shroom Burger, with foraged mushrooms, beltane goat cheese, and truffle. Anything with goat cheee and truffle, I order. Done and done. The goat cheese was tucked away under the burger and it was just perfect.

We were stuffed by the end of our meal but we were already planning our next visit. Ben wants to try a pizza and I have my eye on the short ribs…and the mac and cheese…and the swedish meatballs.

As if we weren’t sold on the place, our check (which arrived in a mason jar) came with two mini peach italian ices. Ben isn’t one for sweets, but I devoured these guys.

If you are looking for a good, and not to mention local (when possible), meal Darien Social is a great local spot. And according to our server, it’s pretty happening on weeknights. I bet the location, right across for the Darien train station, helps that quiet a bit.


Sweet Treat: Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

I spotted these cookies on Pinterest using a Betty Crocker cookie mix. But using a baking mix is not how I like to roll.

(Unless it’s Funfetti, I’m always down for Funfetti.)

Taking a peanut butter cookie recipe from The Kitchn and replacing the espresso truffle blossoms with heart-shaped chocolates, I made these delicious treats…

Find the recipe here. It resulted in a about a dozen and a half cookies for me. I made them a little bigger because of the size of the chocolate hearts. I also used regular sugar to coat the cookies, not the sugars suggested in the recipe.

Easy Dinner: Thrown Together Pasta

At the end of the week, I usually have a few random ingredients leftover that need to be used as soon as possible. I’m also usually pretty tired of spend a lot of time cooking. Insert a thrown together pasta and I can use up some veggies before they go bad and put together a quick meal. I had some penne, broccoli, pancetta and marinara sauce at home, so this is what was thrown together.

Meg’s Thrown Together Pasta (servings – 2 entree portions, time – approx. 25 min)


  • 2 cups of your favorite pasta (or whatever you have leftover)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets (no stem)
  • 1/2 cup pancetta
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large sauce pan, cook pancetta until lightly crisp and remove from pan.
  3. Once pancetta is removed from pan, cook onion for approx. 5 mins. Add garlic and cook for another 2 mins.
  4. Add pasta sauce and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add broccoli and cook covered for a few minutes until broccoli is cooked through.
  6. Combine sauce mixture and pasta, mix well.
  7. Divide into two bowls, top with pancetta and parmesan cheese.

For more servings, add a cup of pasta of each serving, add more veggies and increase pasta sauce.

Easy Dinner: Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches

As much as I love to cook, sometimes it’s just too much to whip up a whole meal after a long day at work. Last night, I was planning on making an enchilada casserole but I just wasn’t up for it. Instead, I made these:

Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches

You only need three ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 Mini burger buns
  • Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced into small squares
  • Trader Joe’s BBQ pulled pork
And it only takes five steps:
  1. Slice the buns and broil them on low until they are lightly golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, microwave Trader Joe’s BBQ pulled pork following instructions on box.
  3. Remove buns from oven. On the bottom half of the bun pile on as much pulled pork as you’d like, on the top place 2 or 3 mini slices of cheese.
  4. Broil on high for 2 minutes
  5. Put sandwiches together and eat! Enjoy!

Dumps From a Truck

Working in Times Square doesn’t give one many enjoyable lunch options. It has your usual suspects: Hale & Hearty, Chop’t, Pax, and Pret a Manger. And, of course, your office cafeteria if you are so lucky.

I bring my own lunch (and breakfast and snacks) almost everyday. With the except of most Fridays. Friday were for trekking a few blocks uptown to the Rickshaw Dumpling truck. Until the NYPD continued to kick the truck out of it’s parking spot. Just another day in the Great New York Food Truck War.

After weeks without  yummy steamed dumplings you can imagine my surprise when I spotted the Rickshaw Kiosk in the middle of Times Square. Literally in the middle of Broadway between 42nd and 43rd streets. Seconds from my office.

True story: I was their first customer at the kiosk. At least that’s what they told me.

Keeping with tradition, every Friday I treat myself to dumplings and a salad from Rickshaw. The vegetarian edamame dumplings are my go-to but the chicken & thai basil are a close second choice.

Rickshaw is great stop if you find yourself in hungry in Times Square. Rickshaw Dumpling Bar also has locations on Lexington (at 45th Street) and in Flatiron. You can also follow them on twitter to find out where the dumpling truck is stationed every day.