Blackfinn Ameripub – It Really is an Upscale Sports Bar!

This might be the world’s longest overdue post however, since football season has officially begun,  I thought now would be a good time to finish it!

I don’t typically write about chain-type restaurants, however I decided to make an exception in the case of Blackfinn.  Sunday NFL football comes right behind food and wine as one of my favorite things.  I’m a California native and a die-hard 49ers fan, so finding a place to watch the game can be a challenge, even more challenging is finding a place to watch football where I can actually drink decent wine.  Then, along came Blackfinn.

While it is still bar food, it is definitely upscale and really quite good with some unusual twists such as the Southern Nachos with BBQ pulled pork or the Blackened Brie.  I also really like the flatbreads, with the BBQ Chicken being my favorite.  They have a broad selection of entrees and salads as well.

The wine list is very good, with several options of each varietal by the glass and even more by the bottle.  On Wednesday nights they have half price wine; both bottles and glasses are included.

If there is a Bears game on, I’d definitely suggest reservations, which they take in both the bar and the dining room.  They show multiple games at the same time,  which makes me a very happy person!

 

http://blackfinnameripub.com/chicago/

 

Bottlefork – Possibly My Favorite Chicago Restaurant

Bottlefork is a new endeavor by Kevin Hickey, former Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Chicago, and Rockit Ranch Productions.  The focus is on locally sourced ingredients and unique cocktails.  To really be part of the action,  sit at the bar and watch cocktails being made by the highly skilled bartenders, or ask for a seat a bit further down where you can see the kitchen team at work.  The space is really narrow, and can get very crowded, however I think that just adds to the atmosphere.

IMG_0654The menu includes a variety of small and large plates, with some interesting options.  I think the most unusual item might be the homemade spam!  I’m not sure about this one, but would love to hear from someone who has tried it!

We sampled several different dishes – my favorite of the evening was the potato gnocchi with mushrooms and fresh goat cheese.  The flavors were very balanced and the sauce was a nice complement to the dish.

It is hard to go wrong with a lobster po’boy especially when it is topped with crispy oysters!  The seafood was very fresh and perfectly cooked.  We also had the lamb ribs;  lamb is not always one of my favorites however these were very nicely done with a tangy sauce.

And what meal is not complete without tater tots; this high-end version is well worth the calories!

The wine menu has limited selections by the glass, however the options they do have are very good.  There were four choices for white, and of those three were something I would drink.

I went for a second visit and just had cocktails, which definitely did not disappoint!  We had fun watching the bartender make drinks and chatting with him about the different cocktails and what is most popular.  The focus of the bar menu is really their craft cocktails so stop in one night for a drink and try one, or a few.  My favorite so far is the Little Miss Dynamite!

 

http://www.bottlefork.com

 

 

Siena Tavern – A Hot Spot with Good Food!

This is definitely a hot spot in town right now, and actually has been for some time!  During happy hour the bar is packed and most nights you’ll likely need a reservation to get a table.  I’ve been several times and while I’ve read some less than stellar reviews, I have not been disappointed by anything I’ve tried, though some things are certainly better than others.

The service is very good; during my second visit one of our dishes was delayed due to a kitchen issue and the manager came over to apologize; we were having a “girls” night out so had not even really noticed.  Without even being asked,  they took the charge for that dish off the bill.  I consider that to be over and above service.  In general, both the wait and bar staff is very attentive, and knows the menu, including the wine list, well.

For an unusual salad I’d recommend the Farro Salad.  The mixture of Farro, marinated calamari, shrimp and vegetables is topped with a  mustard vinaigrette.

IMG_0430They have a good selection of pasta, most with a unique twist.  If you are a mushroom lover, I’d recommend the Pasta in a Jar.  The pizzas are also good and are a nice size for sharing; my favorite so far is the Prosciutto Pear.

I think the most unusual thing on the menu is the Coccoli, which is a combination of crispy dough, Stracchino cheese, prosciutto and truffle honey.  It is absolutely delicious and melts in your mouth.  Just be forewarned, it is very rich!

A tasty side dish is the Sticky Parmesan Potatoes; they taste much more interesting than the menu makes them sound.

While the 6 plus inches of snow and ground definitely mean that patio season has quite obviously ended, they do have a decent patio, which I’ll look forward to visiting again next summer!

http://www.sienatavern.com