Chicago as often as possible, but no matter how often I do go there I always seem to find new things. In this case, it wasn’t only the restaurants that were new to me. I was meeting with my publisher, Dale Winespeare, at Cocktails and Joints for the first time.
We checked into our rooms at The James Chicago, a hotel I always loved for its modern comfort. This time they gave me a two bedroom suite, which I settled quickly in before meeting Dale to go to Tavernita, a new restaurant with an exciting new cocktail program.
I liked the Booty Collins, consisting of green tea-infused Absolut Vodka, passion fruit, lemon and cayenne. I also loved the nutty flavor of the Comandante Big Nose with hibiscus-infused Cruzan Rum, macadamia liqueur, falernum, lime and nutmeg. The Jay & Tay is gin and tonic, in this case Plymouth Gin blended perfectly with a homemade tonic – that contains agave syrup and allspice.
We tried a sampling of food, including the Croquettes, little sandwiches filled with ham and cheese, and Greg’s Meatballs, which are made from beef and pork and have a hazelnut romesco sauce which is quite spicy. My favorite food item was the Grilled Queso, with aged cheddar, tomato marmalade and brioche toast. Dale enjoyed the snapper, with artichokes, basil and pine nuts.
We headed back to The James where I met with Jamie to learn more about some of the exciting programs the hotel has going. She told me about the seasonal menu changes at David Burke’s Primehouse, as well as the Tails in the City program for pets, and the Paul Frank PJ program for kids. There is also now something at The James I find particularly fascinating, the In-Room Cocktail Experience.
III Forks, restaurant in the new Lakeshore East neighborhood. This large, modern place was very busy (even during the week), and it’s no wonder with a huge wine list, interesting cocktails and a varied menu that is also filled with great steak options. They also have a rooftop where you can get drinks and snacks, with a breathtaking view of the Chicago Skyline.