Chicagoans are no strangers to a juicy piece of meat. But with so many steak joints lining the city streets, it can be hard to choose which meaty morsel to chomp down on. Lucky for you, Chat Chow TV has zeroed in on your top contender, Chicago Cut Steakhouse in River North.
Chicago Cut Managing Partner David Flom sat down with Chat Chow TV to explain how his labor of love came about.
“I have always wanted to be in the restaurant business since I was about ten years old,” he told Chat Chow TV. “I would cook for my parent’s friends when they would come over to the house through my younger years.”
Flom’s food career has since landed him gigs at some of Chicago’s great venues, like Gabriel’s and Rosebud, as well as stints at critically acclaimed Michael Mina in Las Vegas and San Francisco. But the Windy City called him back and shortly thereafter, Chicago Cut was born (thank goodness).
Here, it’s all about perfect execution, down to the signature sides. “Creamed spinach [is] something that is very simplistic in nature,” explains Flom. “But if done right with fresh organic spinach, mixed with the parmesan cheese and the cream, and the whole thing, it’ll be a heavenly complement to the steak.”
Check out the video above to see why Chicago Cut chooses caramelizing over charring, how their dry ageing process makes your steak taste better, and why the restaurant is such a celebrity hotspot. Mayor Daley even had a hand in naming the resto (so you know it has chops).
Looking to satisfy a sweet tooth? Warm up at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, the Wicker Park winner named not just for its selection of the comforting drink, but also for the experience of enjoying it.
Although Hot Chocolate’s well-rounded menu also features non-dessert items like juicy burgers, we’re unabashedly drawn to the saccharine side. Like, say, the variations of marshmallow-y hot chocolate goodness, and the baker’s-dozen cookie platter (there’s a chocolate chip and bacon one, you guys. Chocolate chip and bacon.).
You have James Beard award-winning pastry chef and Hot Chocolate owner Mindy Segal to thank. Chat Chow TV sat down with the sweet Chef Segal in her newly remodeled, cozy restaurant and chatted about her impressive career over hot chocolate cocktails.
Hot Chocolate’s cool concept stems from Segal’s uniquely sweet pastry perspective. “The whole idea of opening Hot Chocolate was to sort of have a restaurant that was through the eyes of the pastry chef,” she explains. “So the food’s very, sort of classic American fare. But we use a lot of local producers and absolutely, you feel the season.”
Besides hot chocolate cocktails (try the Syrup, a rich mix of cognac and eggnog hot chocolate), guests can order from a well-edited selection of wines and traditional spirits (because burgers go better with beer).
Just be sure to leave room for dessert.
“I’m always working on new cookies,” Segal warns with a smile. “I’m always having a new passion about cookies. Definitely, we always have cookies on the menu.” Watch the video above to see what other deliciously delectable flavors you could be sinking your teeth into right now.
Carlos Larcada of Pao Town, an increasingly popular Asian fusion joint in Coral Gables, has some solid suggestions about how to scrumptiously wok-toss Brussels sprouts and why dry chicken wings are just better. And who doesn’t take the advice of a gentleman in a bowtie? Chat Chow TV pulled up a seat next to Larcada to discuss.
“Pao Town really came out of food that everyone loves to eat,” Larcada explains. “We like to joke here that it’s the kind of food that you need to take into a corner, take your shirt off and eat every privately.”
And yet, there’s nothing exclusive about Pao Town’s exotically familiar feel. Pao Town takes a cheeky tone, from its kitschy name to Korean video girls looping on flat-screens throughout. Couple that with communal tables, lived-in reclaimed décor, and dishes that Larcada refers to as “’Noms” (because you just wanna munch ‘em all up), and you have an experience that’s anything but taboo.
Larcada explains what he was going for: “It goes back to that kind of food you love to eat. We really wanted items that you can come [eat] for lunch with coworkers, but you can also bring your lady on a Saturday night and not make her feel like you’re taking her to grab-n-go chicken.”
Complementing the food menu is Pao Town’s well-edited list of libations, from curated craft beers to complex cocktails, like the Sake Sangria (junmai sake, pomegranate and lychee juice, and green and oolong teas blended with fig, lychees, mango, and pineapple).
Watch the video above to get a sense of Pao Town’s laid-back vibe, Larcada’s favorite menu item (there’s wasabi ranch involved), and when you can show up for $1 drafts.
Chef Richie Farina knows a thing or two about carving out a name for himself. The Top Chef contestant (and three-time collegiate ice-carving title-holder) is leading Chicago in the art of molecular gastronomy at Moto Restaurant.
Putting his own spin on the Moto menu, Farina reconstructs palates with innovative plates like his “Study of Venison,” a seasonal platter of venison inventions (watch the video above to see just how many ways there are to eat deer.)
Lending Moto even more street cred is its vertical garden in the downstairs kitchen.
“It’s kind of cool to be able to go kind of farm to table in about 5 minutes,” boasts Farina. “When things are fired, we go in there, pick the few micros we need, set it on the plate and send it upstairs. The flavor profile is incredible. I thought that a micro greens was a micro green, but I didn’t know until we grew our own how good they could actually taste.”
Moto’s mission of culinary curiosity extends to the sweet tooth. Chat Chow TV sat down with Farina and got schooled in Baking 101—the do-it-yourself dessert dish of cookie dough that you eat right out of the bowl.
“It adds to the whole idea behind it,” says Farina of the at-table baking-and-eating experience. “We’re really trying to go towards a way of making every course, everything with the course, have a reason.”
Jose Gonzalez is bringing Old World Cuba to Chicago. He’s just made a few modern, rum-infused tweaks.
Located in Logan Square, the unassuming façade of Gonzalez’s Paladar Restaurant & Rum Bar blends in with the up-and-coming neighborhood’s hip personality. But venture inside, and it’s easy to see that the eatery is steeped in a rich heritage.
“‘Paladar’ is a noun, it means ‘palate’,” explains Gonzalez, the next generation of restaurateurs in his family’s long lineage. “What I was going for is what’s happening in Cuba right now. People are taking their homes and converting it into restaurants. They’re making their dining rooms into restaurants and they’re called ‘paladares.’ That’s what I was trying to do here. I brought that warmth, feeling, that passion that I saw growing up with my parents cooking.”
Split into a cozy dining room and a contemporary rum bar (featuring 45 types of rum), Paladar is outfitted in family pictures and vintage chandeliers. Expect hearty Havana-inspired dishes like whole red snapper flanked by full-plate portions of traditional Cuban sides: white rice, sweet plantains and black beans.
Chat Chow TV spoke to Gonzalez (over fresh-fruit mojitos, of course) about his 46-year-old, fall-off-the-bone oxtail recipe, what makes Paladar’s black beans deliciously different from the rest and how rum should really be enjoyed (watch the video above for his expert tasting techniques).
Gonzalez hopes his vision has created a comfortable experience. “I want people to feel like they’re walking into my house and they’re sitting in my dining room.”