Shout Out: Irazu

Since moving from Seattle, Miss Fats has seriously missed her “joints:” or those delicious, cheap and shady go-to eating spots that never disappoint.  In Chicago, she has hardly frequented enough seedy eats to stake her claim, but she’s seriously thinking Irazu will be the first of many.

IMG_2188This, essentially “hut,” just north of the heart of Wicker Park, delivers a wide array of tasty Costa Rican dishes for small change.  Right now, the place boasts a plastic outdoor canopy and heat lamps, but Miss Fats is sure it will be a delightful outdoor patio come spring and summer.  Not to mention it’s BYOB.  For her meal, Miss Fats ordered the Pepito sandwich: grilled chicken, onions, spicy peppers, black beans, cheese and a delicious tomatillo salsa.  Yeah and it was only $5.  Next to that giant ‘wich is the tastiest pile of rice and beans you’ll find.  DON’T BE DECEIVED.  You may THINK that black beans are a throw away side dish, but you haven’t tried these.  Holy shit so much flavor in a harmless little legume. Seriously, people: those beans literally had more flavor than the chicken and cheese combined.This rice and bean combo you can see above is the Costa Rican staple gallo pinto: eat it immediately.

IMG_2185Hah, you thought Miss Fats could stop herself there. Ok, so look: Miss Fats is well aware that Irazu’s Wicker location and presence of a website hardly qualifies it as a real “joint.” And unfortunately this insane dish above only reinforces this: fresh mahi mahi ceviche.  But she doesn’t care because this SHIT WAS CRAZY CHEAP.  For a giant bowl of fresh tasty, tangy fish, she and her dining partners shelled out a meer $12.  Between the three of them, they were unable to get through the whole bowl.  Miss Fats cannot wait for some serious summer time at Irazu, chowing down on some cold, citrusy ceviche with side of black beans.  She will be back, Irazu.

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Blah Blah Blabla, Cafe Spiaggia

Miss Fats apologizes for the delay on this restaurant week review.  They have been BUSY eating (clearly).  The second spot Miss Fats hit last week was the famous Cafe Spiaggia.  There were obviously a lot of warning signs to prepare Miss Fats for disappointment with this one: Gold Coast location, famous reputation, tourist spot, and fancy Italian (this shit should be rustic, cheap and delicious always.)  However, looking at the menu and lunch price, Miss Fats decided to give it a go.  BIG MISTAKE.

Here’s what they were promised:
Three-Course Lunch Menu

Olive -Nocellare, Gaeta, Alfonso, Torremaggiore,orange zest, pickled fennel

FIRST COURSE
Gran Farro – cannellini beans, farro, pancetta
Fegato – chicken liver mousse, cranberry, arugula, crostini
Bocconcini – mozzarella di bufala, apple mostarda
Rucola – arugula, Capriole Farm goat cheese,balsamico

SECOND COURSE
Salmone – Faroe Island salmon, Tuscan beans, shallots, fingerling potatoes,
fennel, Brussels sprouts
Gnocchi – wild boar ragu,Parmigiano Reggiano
Polpette – meatballs, tomato sauce,polenta,Pecorino Romano
Cappellacci- butternut squash, sage,Parmigiano Reggiano,brown butter

DESSERT
Zeppole – Italian style fritters, vanilla sugar, rasberry compote
Sorbetti – passion fruit, lemon-lime, pear
We were offered a menu with SEVEN differences from the original. When your menu only has 11 items on it… nice work, jerks.

Yeah. Looks pretty damn good huh?

Well here’s what they got:
1. NO OLIVES. WHERE WHERE THE OLIVES? We wanted the olives. They were not there.
2. NO CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE. Miss Fats wanted the chicken liver mousse. It was not there. NO GRAN FARRO. NO MEAT BALLS AND POLENTA.

RESULT: The most apathetic restaurant review ever.

IMG_1825Bread – parmesan crisps & foccacia

M: Fine. Fluffy bread. Crispy cracker.  Eh.
J: Miss Fats put this in her mouth. It was food. The top of the foccacia was super super salty.

IMG_1845Bocconcini – mozzarella di bufala, apple mostarda, thyme

M: Ok. The moz was pretty damn good. But who should really get credit for that?? Miss Fats thinks the buffalo. Not the chef.  Eff that apple thing; too sweet. Give me more cheese.
J: The cheese stands alone. The cheese stands alone. Hi ho the buffalo, the cheese stands alone. The cheese SHOULD have stood alone. It was hanging out with a bad crowd, Miss Fats swears it was some sort of carmelized syrup pear slice sitting on top. Not her cup of tea. Also, ARUGULA NEEDS TO GET THE EFF OUT OF HER LIFE. In general.

IMG_1846Ribollita – purgatory beans, Tuscan kale, Savoy cabbage, San Marzano tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano

J: This wasn’t actually listed as a soup on the menu, so Miss Fats thought they were getting some kind of interesting vegetable concoction. They received what amounted to a bowl of canned soup. Like, the good kind, though, the chunky ones that cost $2.50. You know.

IMG_1847Cappellacci – Chioggia squash, brown butter, chestnut honey, Parmigiano Reggiano, sage

M: Standard vegetarian pasta.  Vegetarians seriously get shafted.  There was also a problem with the filling to pasta ratio.  By the end of the meal, the edges of the cappellacci became hard and gross.  No good.
J: Miss Fats doesn’t even really remember eating this. ? Vague memory of it being too sweet and tasting exactly like every time she’s ever had butternut ravioli, ever.

IMG_1848Gnocchi – wild boar ragu, Parmigiano Reggiano

M: Pretty good. At least these were REAL gnocchi.
J: This was the second time Miss Fats had wild boar ragu, the first being at Erbaluce in Boston. They did it better.

IMG_1849Trota – ruby trout, Tuscan beans, fingerling potatoes, fennel, padron peppers, shallots

M: Trout deserves a shout out.  This shit was GOOD.  After their poor fish luck, Miss Fats was worried about their sea friends.  However this fish was incredible. Perfectly cooked and covered in a lemony sauce that made the dish.  If this had been it, the review would have been outstanding.  Miss Fats apologizes to you, trout, because it’s not your fault you got overshadowed by lameness.  You deserve a serious award.
J: Fish luck fish luck! Miss Fats falls asleep dreaming of fennel fields. All the accessories that came with this fish were superb. Actually, now that she’s looking at the description, this dish didn’t have any peppers. It did BYOB… Bring Your Own Brusselssprouts… Miss Fats was sharing this and they each got a whole QUARTER OF A SPROUT. Oh you menu lies. This fish was delish.

IMG_1850Bomboloni – Italian doughnuts, poppy seed sugar, apple cinnamon compote

M: Miss Fats rarely disses on fried dough.  But a doughnut should NOT collapse when you bite into it.  This was completely devoid of the chewy, yeasty bready goodness that makes a doughnut.  Fail.
J: And then there were some fried ball sugar thingies sitting in applesauce, which Miss Fats would have been really happy to see… had they been served some crispy latkes. Uhhh. Uh. Uhm. Whatever.

IMG_1851Sorbetti + Gelati – passion fruit sorbet, chocolate gelato, cinnamon rice milk sorbet

J: The chocolate gelato tasted like chocolate gelato. The passion fruit was bright and sour and wonderful and Miss Fats ate every last drop! The cinnamon rice milk sorbet was also awesome, or maybe it just seemed that way after this super mediocre meal. Suck a floppy cappellaci, Cafe Spiaggia.
M:
Shout out to the passion fruit and cinnamon rice milk.  Miss Fats is out.