Enolo – Chicago’s Newest Wine Bar

IMG_0715I’m never going to be one to pass up checking out the latest wine bar, so when a friend suggested we try Enolo, I was happy to agree.  Other than a quick review of their website,  I had heard nothing, so had no expectations.  From the minute you walk in it is warm and inviting;  a cozy atmosphere with unique decor.

The 25 bottle wine list, made up of mostly small vineyards, provides for some excellent wine flights.  You can choose glasses, bottles or flights of wine.  If you are a beer drinker, they also have a nice selection of craft beers. We each started with a wine flight, sampling both red and white options,  and then picked our favorite for a glass.  The flights were nicely balanced;  while I had a clear favorite, I would have ordered a glass of any of the three.

The menu is fairly simple, made up of small bites, salads, bruschetta and panini selections.  There are a few entree choices as well.  We started with the Artichoke and Leek Dip from the small bites portion of the menu;  it was fantastic.  We then moved on to bruschetta and salads.  The bruschetta selection is amazing  – each option includes four generous pieces and you can easily make a light meal of this with one of their salad selections.  I’d recommend ordering a few different ones to share.  I think my favorite was the salmon, though they were all so good it would be hard to pick just one.  My friend ordered the beet salad, while she said it was good, apparently the beets were a little under-cooked.IMG_0718

Like any new place, there are a few kinks to be worked out, however I will definitely go back, probably many times!

 

http://www.enolowinebar.com

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The Berkshire Room – A Craft Cocktail Lounge

This is a relatively new addition to the Chicago bar scene, opening earlier this year in the Acme Hotel on Ohio.  This is a very intimate and classy cocktail lounge, serving unique hand-crafted cocktails. The menu includes a variety of house cocktails or you can create your own, which is the option I’d definitely recommend.  You choose your spirit, your flavor profile (fruity, spicy, sweet & sour, smokey) and the type of glass; from there the bartenders work their magic.

There is a also a good selection of craft beers and a well-rounded wine list.

They have a nice menu of small bites and desserts;  the Dealer’s Choice bar snacks are a fun way to start and go well with a variety of cocktails.  I’d recommend the Pulled Pork sliders if you want something more substantial.  They were so good we ended up getting a second order.

Unless you are going early,  you’ll probably want to make a reservation, as it gets crowded later in the evening.  This is a fun place for girls night out or a great option for a before or after dinner drink on a date.

http://www.theberkshireroom.com

Chicago’s Table – A Foodie Charity Event

This annual event is the perfect charity event for any foodie who wants to check out some interesting dished and support a good cause while doing it;  and it is just a fun event in general.  With limited tickets sales there are no long waits for food or drinks and the crowd includes a diverse age range.  This year’s event showcased 20 restaurants – each created a food and wine pairing.  The event is hosted by Chicago Magazine and benefits the Auxiliary Board of Northwestern Hospital.

All of the restaurants got very creative with their selections.  Some of my favorites included Savory plum and foie gras macaroons paired with 90+ Cellars Lot 65 French Fusion White from Chez Moi, the goat chili paired with a Malbec from 90+ cellars from Little Goat Diner, the pasta in a jar from Sienna Tavern,  and the shrimp & scallop ceviche paired with a Strawberry rhubarb Paloma from Nacional 27.  They definitely got my vote for the best drink of the night.

The best dish of the night night was the sliced filet with mini crab cakes and cajun lobster sauce, paired with a Cranberry Collins from Del Frisco’s.  It was enough to make me want to make a reservation with them!

The annual event is held in October.

Wine & Cheese Pairings from Pastoral

I recently stopped by Pastoral on Lake Street to pick up some wine for a BBQ I was attending later in the evening.  As I always do when I go into Pastoral, I ask recommendations.  The staff is excellent at listening to what you really want and recommending something that truly fits that description.  They have a very unique wine selection, so typically unless I’m going back to get something I had before, I’m trying something new.

When I said I was looking for something for a classic BBQ, meaning hamburgers and hot dogs, a Riesling was immediately recommended.  I’m sure I must have made a face, but he followed by saying he guaranteed I’d like it.  I am not a big fan of sweet wines, and am especially not a fan of Riesling in general, so I was very skeptical.

He gave me a couple of options and did an excellent job of explaining the differences between them; he also gave me a great history of Riesling while we were talking.  I ended up selecting the Keller Riesling.  I took it to the party and my friend made the same type of  face I’d made in Pastoral!  We both tasted the wine together and agreed it was a very good recommendation.  It was still slightly sweet, but more mineral tasting than I would typically associate with a Riesling.  Overall, a good summer wine.

I also asked if he had any cheese recommendations to go with the Riesling, and he suggested Prairie Breeze Cheddar from Milton Creamery in Iowa.  He explained that the cheese curds were less packed than a typical cheddar, which gave it a nice creamy consistency.  It was good on its own, however did go very well with the Riesling.

If you want some unique wine, a great cheese selection and fantastic service, I’d highly recommend stopping by Pastoral.  And they make great sandwiches too!

http://www.pastoralartisan.com

Fun Summer Wines

I’m always in search of great summer wines,  something that you can sip while sitting on the patio on a warm summer afternoon or evening.  I like them to be light enough to stand on their own, however have enough taste and body go with a nice grilled dinner.  I’ve already found two great options this summer!!

Sterling Vineyards Malvasia Bianca (2012) – A friend brought this bottle over on a nice sunny afternoon, and all I can say is I wish we’d had two bottles!  I think this is probably my all time favorite summertime wine! This is a pretty sweet wine, with a lot of fruit.  I’m not a fan of sweet wine, or overly fruity wine for that matter but this one is a definite exception.  It has just the right amount of sweet and fruit with a little bit of fizz!

Fizz 56 Sparkling Red Wine – I came across this bottle while grocery shopping at Mariano’s recently.  They were offering a tasting and I have to say, sparkling red wine is one of those things that I’m never sure I’m going to like.  I’ve had a few good ones, but those seem to be outweighed by the bad ones.   I took one taste of this and knew I’d be coming back for more bottles!  It’s an Italian wine from the Piedmont region; a little sweet but not over the top.  It is great for sipping on its own on a warm day, however also goes really nicely with a meal.  We had it with the pork tacos I recently posted about and I have to say it made the perfect companion.

Twomey Pinot Noir…..I’m a little bit obsessed with this one!

After a visit to Twomey’s tasting room last year, I must admit I’m a little bit addicted to the Andersen Valley Pinot Noir.   This is a great lighter red wine with beautiful color.  It is fruity but not overpowering with the taste of berries, very velvety and smooth!  I’ve been collecting bottles of this with my wine club shipments from Twomey; you can order directly from them, and it is also available from wine.com.

This is a great early summer wine!
http://www.twomey.com

A South American Find….Decero Malbec

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I received this bottle as a gift and have to say it was a great gift!  Malbec is not always my most favorite wine varietal, but this is a great one!  The wine is a beautiful red-ish, violet color and has  a nice, smooth fruity taste that is not overpowering.  It is light enough to drink on its own however would also be good with a variety of different foods.  I had it with pork & avocado tacos (I’ll publish that recipe in future post), which was an excellent combination.

I have not found a place locally to purchase it, though wine.com seems to carry the 2010 vintage for $17.99 a bottle.

According to Decero’s website 2009 was considered the “vintage of the decade” and I have to say I’d definitely agree with them!

Tickled Pink….Eno @ the Intercontinental

The pink champagne flight was perfect for a cool, Spring Sunday afternoon.  As always the wine selection is fantastic at Eno.  The wine list is still fantastic, with a great selection from many different regions of the world.  The cheese flights are also excellent; with something to compliment any wine selection.  We had the Triple Bypass with our champagne; the rich creamy cheeses went very nicely with the bubbles!

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This used to be a regular go-to spot for us but it is not quite the same as it used to be; unfortunately since they remodeled last year the service and general quality of the wait staff has deteriorated a bit.  That said, I’d still recommend it for those who really love wine, and cheese and chocolate!