Spring has sprung, dear readers! Well, that is what the calendar says. I’m sure that Mother Nature has her own plans for us. In any event, Spring is a time for new beginnings. So, I spent the passed few days checking out some of the newer restaurants to grace Chicago in the last year. Below is my weekend roundup just for you.
Immm Rice & Beyond:
To kick off my weekend, I met Margaret, a fellow foodie friend, for a taste of Thailand at Immm Rice & Beyond. This spot is located in
Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood around the corner from the Argyle ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red line.
Immm (which means” I’m full” or “I’m stuffed”) is a bright and colorful storefront which opened for business in December 2015. They specialize in the kind of Thai food typically found at the street stalls in Thailand. There is a huge steam table at the front featuring a rotating menu of sweet, sour and other pungent dishes. There are also more typical rice and noodle dishes including curries on the menu. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can sample some “fish guts” (Ha! Maybe next time.) The staff is very happy to let you taste everything before you commit to anything. That really made me feel very welcome. Nice touch!
Margaret and I took in the huge chalkboard of food choices that fills the front wall of this tiny restaurant, Then we let our eyeballs do the picking in front of the daily offerings in Immm’s steam table. Here’s how our lunch went down:
First up, we split this sweet and spicy, green papaya salad. It was super crunchy and fresh. I thought Immm nailed the balance of sweet to spicy in this dish. Honestly, we should have ordered another one. I will remember this for my next visit.
Next, we chose a spicy beef noodle dish which we had no problem devouring. Lately, I have been avoiding meat altogether but I find it difficult to visit a Thai restaurant and avoid a good beef dish. So happy I indulged! A really light and lovely tilapia in a banana leaf was part of the mix as well.
Last but not least, we ordered this mango sticky rice pudding for dessert. I usually skip dessert but I really needed to try this dish to see if it was on point. I believe it was! The mango was fresh and the sticky rice had a very nice consistency. It was refreshing without being too sweet. Nicely done!
Bonus! Immm is a BYOB so don’t forget to grab your favorite brews or other libations before you head over there for lunch or dinner.
Immm Rice & Beyond in located at 4949 N. Broadway. They are open Wednesday – Monday from 11am – 9pm.
Prime & Provisions:
Chicago is one meat-loving town. It is home to some of this country’s most iconic steakhouses. In the past few years, more have graced this city. Prime & Provisions is perhaps the loveliest and best of the bunch.
Can you say “swanky?” I just know you can! If you are looking for some fabulous fare in a gorgeous setting, Prime & Provisions must be on your list of places to dine. It is located on the border of The Loop and the River North neighborhood, just 1 l block north of the Clark/Lake ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Blue, Green and Orange Lines.
This sprawling steakhouse is the latest restaurant from the DineAmic Group (Siena Tavern, Bar Siena, Bull & Bear and Public House). Simply put, it’s another winner! The menu is filled with creative appetizers, first courses, main entrees, sides and desserts. All of them are very tempting. I dropped by on Saturday night for a solo dinner. Since it was my first time dining at Prime & Provision, I took a seat at the beautifully moody bar. The bar area also has a few cozy circular booths with pretty chandeliers which only add to the romantic feel of the space.
I started off with a fun cocktail. A Venetian Spritz (vodka, prosecco, campari, grapefruit juice, wedge of orange). It’s one of my favorites. My delightful and friendly bartender, Ryan (“Murph”), nailed this drink! It was extremely well-balanced and refreshing. Looking for something in the brown liquor arena? Well, I am happy to share that Prime & Provisions has a large selection of the brown stuff. It has also been winning huge recognition for it’s old-fashioned cocktail. I will be back for that. I love a good old-fashioned. How about you?
I am a fan of red meat, especially a great rib-eye. However, on this particular visit, I was craving some seafood. Luckily, Prime & Provisions has a great selection. I went with this lump crab and lobster cake which is listed under the first course section of the menu. Murph assured me it would be just filling enough to suit my appetite that evening. He was correct.
This combination seafood cake was such a welcome change from the usual crab cakes served in many restaurants. It had a very small amount of bread crumbs as filler. This is one ample cake, people! There were huge pieces of lump crab and lobster in the mix. The cake was served along side a nice amount of peppery arugula with a lemony dipping sauce on the side. As good as the accompanying sauce was, I really did not need it. The perfectly roasted and juicy lemon half which came with this dish was all that was necessary to bump up the already fresh seafood on my plate.
I was not up for dessert but I found a wonderful compromise in this outrageously decadent bruléed sweet potato. It was a riff on a crème brûlée. It was topped with a sprinkle of spicy Vietnamese cinnamon. Sweet cajeta butter rode shotgun. Holy cow! They say side dish. I say dessert 🙂 I have not stopped thinking about it.
I will be back to Prime & Provisions very soon to check out more of their menu. This place rocks! They are located at 222 N. LaSalle St.
Corridor Brewery & Provisions:
Rounding out my weekend was a stop at this great local brew pub in the Southport Corridor section of Lakeview. It’s located just one block north of the Southport ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Brown Line.
Corridor Brewery & Provisions is a sister restaurant to my much-adored Dryhop Brewers which is also in Lakeview on Broadway. The menu here is small, as it is primarily a brew pub. That said, they have a few interesting preparations of mussels, shared plates, entrees and sandwiches on offer. I went with this fantastic pan-seared wasabi tuna sandwich. It was served on a sesame seed bun with crisp slices of daikon radish and marinated seaweed salad. This sandwich was rivaled only by the expertly thick-cut, battered fries. They were super light and accompanied by a mustard herb mayo and ketchup The best fries I’ve had in Chicago to date. Truly addictive.
I washed it all down with this “Seasons of Darkness” porter which I joked was my “third cup of coffee of the day” 😉 Don’t judge!
One last note. The very cool staff at Corridor Brewery is spinning some old-school vinyl records for you. Awesome. I kicked back to some E.L.O. (Electric Light Orchestra) during my lunch here. Cool sounds!
Corridor Brewery & Provisions is located at 3446 N. Southport Ave.
There you have them, folks! My weekend roundup is yours for the keeping. Grab your Ventra card and hop the rails to Immm Rice & Beyond, Prime & Provisions and Corridor Brewery & Provisions. Do you have a weekend roundup you’d like to share with me? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains to these fabulous food finds. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!