Wednesday, February 11, 2015

9 Days of Valentine's: Restaurant Edition...

No Chicago is not snow-free this winter
I forgot to take a picture of the front yesterday so this is
a picture I took during the summer

Are you wondering what the surprise I talked about yesterday is? Well, it’s that my husband and I found out that for this entire week one of our favorite restaurants The Chicago Diner is having a special Valentine’s Day Menu. Now, despite having already picked out 9 Romantic dishes to cook for our little celebration, once we caught sight of the menu we really couldn’t pass it up.

In our relationships I’m the one that does the cooking, I cook everyday regardless of how busy I am, how tired I am or how sick I am. - I typically need to be either very sick or very tired, not to cook. Each evening I cook dinner, many other days of the week - though not necessarily every day - I also make a breakfast or lunch depending on what our schedules are, and how hungry we are. So on average I make two meals per day. My husband doesn’t cook at all, and that’s alright with me. He can make a killer pot of pasta, and an amazing jambalaya and occasionally he surprises me with these, but usually when he wants to ‘give me the gift of food’ it involves taking me out for dinner. Which is just as good in my opinion since we don’t often go out to eat.

Of course going out on actual Valentine’s Day would be a nightmare. We usually avoid going out on actual holidays, opting instead to celebrate early to avoid crowds, so we decided to hit up The Chicago Diner yesterday, in the late afternoon when we figured the ‘holiday’ crowd would be at it’s thinnest. We were right. We had The Diner virtually to ourselves and we enjoyed a nice leisurely meal, of laughs and love and damn good food. The Valentine’s Menu was limited to 1 appetizer, 1 entree, and 3 dessert options. Which was nice. Don’t get me wrong, I love having options, but there is such a thing as having too many options you know?

For drinks we ordered milkshakes, because hello, it’s THE CHICAGO DINER! Milkshakes are a must! My opinion was that we could have wine anytime, but you can only have milkshakes every now and then. I got my usual Peanut Butter Cookie Dough shake which is out of this world, my husband got his usual mocha which is also very good.

We got the appetizer which was Dates stuffed with Jalapeno’s wrapped in Vegan bacon. Oh my god were these delicious! Seriously, one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had. These were sweet, salty, savory, with just a touch of spice and they were served with a sweet tart sauce that tasted like Tamarind. So amazing, I wish we’d had more.

Since the Diner’s appetizers are so good, and my husband is a hungry man we decided to order a second appetizer off of their regular menu. The Thai Chili Wings. These are incredible, I think I’ve mentioned them before but I’ll do it again. They’re seitan wings, drenched in a sweet spicy Thai chili sauce, served with a squeeze of lime and Sriracha Ranch for dipping. Fan-freaking-tastic. Though we had a hard time decided between this and the Poutine, such a difficult choice always.

Our entree was a braised Portobello Mushroom cap served on a bed of creamed leeks, with a Potato-Daikon Cake, and asparagus. Man, this was good too! That mushroom was so chewy and delicious, the asparagus was cooked to perfection! The leeks were perfect, sweet and savory and buttery, and the potato cake, oh boy, well that was my favorite part. Like eating a German Potato Pancake - almost.

For dessert I went with the Strawberry Rose tart, which was a chocolate crust, a strawberry coulis in the middle, with rose essence and rose petals, topped with some whip cream. This was amazing! It wasn’t too sweet, and the contrast between chocolate, strawberry and rose were all wonderful. I loved that the rose flavor was very prominent but not overwhelming.

My husband chose the Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Lavender filling. He gave me a bite and this was just as good! Subtle lavender cream in the middle of two big, soft, moist chocolate cakes in the shape of hearts. Also served with a delicate whipped cream. Amazing!

Interestingly despite all that food we left The Diner feeling pretty good. Honestly most of the time we leave the diner my husband and I either feel like we’re going to throw up or die. And I have to say that isn’t any fault of the Diner, it’s all on us. We always order WAY too much food, and we always eat it all! This time around I don’t think we necessarily ordered less food, but it was the kind of food we ordered. It was mostly vegetable based, when normally at the Diner we stuff ourselves with seitan, tempeh, poutine, bread, burgers and all the bad, decadent stuff. Yesterday we ate relatively ‘light’ by comparison and left feeling perfectly satisfied and happy. The Diner always makes us happy, and this was a lovely way to celebrate an Early Valentine’s Day.

So if this all sounds good to you, and you live in the Chicagoland area be sure to drop by The Chicago Diner sometime this week. I think Saturday is your last chance for the Valentine’s Day menu so get there fast! And check back tomorrow for Part 4 of our celebration.

The Chicago Diner - 

Halsted Location 
3411 N Halsted St
Phone: 773-935-6696
Logan Square Location 
2333 N. Milwaukee Ave
Phone: 773-252-3211

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