I recently had a slew of disappointing dining experiences. You know that sunken feeling in your stomach after everyone on Instagram hyped up the restaurant and you found yourself scratching your head wondering what the big deal was? Then realizing you were deceived because of sponsorships and superficial realities like that. I cautiously entered Etta wondering if it was actually going to be a delicious dining experience or whether it was going to be yet another hyped up disappointment fueled by Instagram. Etta (the E is lower case) was nowhere near a disappointment.
Bellemore is the less traditional, let your hair out sibling of Boca. While Boca is fine-dining and more traditional, Bellemore is a little more experimental and hip with similar price-points and a similar level of refinement and deliciousness. The layout and aesthetic reminded me of Proxi, another favorite restaurant of mine that is across the street from Bellemore. I wonder if Proxi’s aesthetic influenced Bellemore’s style or if it’s a mere coincidence. The lighting was just right without it being too dimly lit but not too overly bright where you feel like you’re in a mall.
Well, there you have it – the conclusion of my Pacific Northwest ramblings series. I left the Pacific Northwest extremely satiated in multiple ways. I was refreshed from the serene nature and fulfilled by the vast array of delicious international, vegan, and pescatarian cuisine.
Have you ever been to a vegan prix-fixe dinner? I hadn’t been or even heard of this amazing concept until I went to Seattle. Most prix-fixe restaurants in Chicago tend to be pretty meat-centric with a sprinkling of seafood and it’s kind of a pain to switch because you want to get your money’s worth. But we didn’t have to worry about this in Seattle. We could eat everything on the prix-fixe menu, as is, and not pay an arm and a leg at $65 per person. It is definitely a special occasion, but it is much more affordable than other prix-fixe experiences.
Mountains, evergreen trees, the Pacific Ocean, a haven for vegans – is the Pacific Northwest all its cracked out to be? Yes, it is, in every possible way. Is it the most racially diverse and cutting edge place? No. Is it celebrating sustainability and environmentalism? Yes…and they have a statue of Lenin. I didn’t know what to expect from Seattle and had grand expectations for Portland as a fan of Portlandia. I ended up falling in love with Seattle and as someone who isn’t an “outdoorsy” person, I fell in love with its gorgeous nature.
So what can I say, New Orleans is a weird city. I couldn’t live here, but I could live with the weather and all of its delicious food and cocktails. I appreciated the more relaxed vibe and how walkable of a city it is. It is easy to find what you’re looking for in NOLA, whether it’s a higher-end small plates restaurant or a binge when you’re hungover brunch spot. There are so many bars to choose from and with a selection of bars open till 5am or even 24 hours! If you’re looking for opulence or a chill night away from the tourists, you will be able to find your spot. Gritty and decadent, New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and flavors that will keep you coming for more.
Elske is New American restaurant tucked away in the West Loop offering beautiful Danish inspired cuisine. I was very excited to try Elske having been to Copenhagen this past year. The decor definitely brought me back to Copenhagen as it’s minimal and all about the mid-century modern vibe. They also have a lovely outdoor area with a fireplace for when it will eventually be warmer outside. We were here for a celebration and had been wanting to try Elske for awhile.
S.K.Y is a newer, creative restaurant with a sleek, minimal decor serving New American fare with an “Asian” influence. It is unpretentious as it is in Pilsen rather than the West Loop, which is quite refreshing. This is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in Chicago. Everything I ate here was absolutely mouthwateringly delicious between the fun textures and well-seasoned/spiced flavors. Everything about this restaurant screams minimal decor but their flavors are everything but minimal.
The Loyalist seems to be the more introverted sibling of Smyth. It has a darker, moody, contemporary aesthetic with a cozy vibe.
Proxi represents the best of fine, creative, and adventurous cuisine in Chicago. Their concept is eclectic twists on global street food served tapas style in an open, beautiful, and modern dining environment. I love how open this restaurant is without it feeling overwhelming and chain-like. High-ceilings, chic lighting, and a rustic decor create a refined, but not stuffy ambience. Over-sized leather booths and brass mirrors give it a funky, yet sophisticated feel. It was a special occasion so we were seated at the Chef’s Table with a lovely view of the chefs and all of the live action in the kitchen.