Remember That One Time At Little Goat

IMG_6023 IMG_6022

Remember that one time when we planned a post-work rendezvous at Little Goat in the West Loop?

We walked into a beautiful space that seemed nothing like a diner. We sat down, quickly scanned the menu….

IMG_6024

And immediately decided to eat ALL OF THE BAD THINGS. Exhibit A:

IMG_6026

Fried pickles and onion rings with curry mayo and ranch.

IMG_6029 IMG_6028

Oh. My. God.

Then veggie quesadillas for me, a patty melt with tempura mashed potatoes for you.

IMG_6032 IMG_6031 IMG_6034

Right when we hit our lowest point during dinner (see: full binge mode, stomach at max capacity) your Nike FuelBand decided to tell us, but mostly you, actually only you, that your lazy ass needed to do something. ANYTHING.

After 5 straight minutes of weepy laughter, we interpreted the Nike FuelBand “quick win” message as us needing to speedily place a dessert order, which promptly resulted in this…

IMG_6039 IMG_6040 2 Choco Taco heaven. With chocolate covered tortilla chips.

Thanks Sara for being my dinner date, and for also having a similarly massive appetite that could only be sufficed by a Goat feast.

Little Goat, I owe you another visit to really get the full lowdown. Until next time…

 

One of the Best Meals I’ve Eaten in Chicago: Boka in Lincoln Park

Boka Chicago

Died. Went to heaven. Boka in Lincoln Park, I surrender. You can have my heart forever.

On a hot summer night, Brian and I sat inside his place waiting for our reservation as I slurped down a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee. Originally we had opted to stay inside and have a lazy, relaxing night, but I had an itch to get out and try something new. It was late Friday, and I had just come home after a long week of work in the wild world of advertising. This coffee was needed sustenance that would carry me through the night.

Brian had heard rave reviews from his colleagues about Boka; I on the other hand, had heard nothing. Nothing at all. Zip. Zilch.

I was intrigued.

We impatiently left earlier than we needed to and waltzed on over to Boka hand-in-hand, giddy to explore this unchartered, new-to-us territory.

May I set the scene of Boka? As you walk inside, you can feel the restaurant absolutely dripping with romance. Tribal-tiled floors, elegant light fixtures, quotes painted in cursive on the walls, and bustling laughter from the bar make Boka feel like an eccentric, yet welcoming sanctuary. Brian and I sat in this room, right in front of the preserved moss. It was weird, but at the same time it was perfect. I couldn’t get enough, and it feels strange to depict.

Even the music brought a funky and irresistibly cool element.

As Brian and I nestled in, our server came over to take our drink orders. Boka is apparently known for their extensive wine list, so I decided on a glass of Riesling, which sounded so crisp and refreshing on this particularly humid night. After deeply studying the menu (as we always do), we eagerly placed our first order, and this is what arrived…

marinated hawaiian striped marlin at Boka Chicago

The marinated Hawaiian striped marlin with ginger, grapefruit, and Vietnamese coriander.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when we were headed to Boka, yet I was more than pleasantly surprised with this first dish. Simply put, it was a work of art. The texture of the fresh fish, married with the sweet grapefruit came together in perfect harmony, with an unexpected yet balanced zing of flavor thanks to the ginger and coriander. Brian and I both looked at each other in utter disbelief that our first dish could be THAT good. Our expectations were set.

I should note here that Brian and I did receive these next two dishes on the house. A front-of-the-house employee recognized Brian from college, and must have tipped the kitchen off as to where he currently works, given our surprise and delight by a couple of plates that showed up next. Regardless, my opinions are still 100% my own, and neither of us were invited to review or try this restaurant beforehand. Moving on…

IMG_6451

Above is the heirloom carrot salad with pistachios and smoked goat cheese. $10 is a steal for this dish, given you’ll receive a beautiful plate of food, as well as a delectable medley of different textures that all somehow complement each other. I would’ve never ordered this on my own, but it stood out as one of my favorites for the night. I love how this salad features flecks of green throughout, with a bright orange ribbon of carrot to top the dish off.

IMG_6462

Believe me when I say that I swooned over the creativity and passion that emanated from each plate that made its way over to our little corner. I can attest that you do, in fact, eat with your eyes.

Next up was the best octopus I’ve ever had. Maybe I said that about Cocello’s octopus – actually, I’m pretty sure I did. While prepared differently than what I’m used to eating, this was piping hot and tender all the way through. While I typically prefer my octopus to be a little crispy, I got none of that here, and loved this octopus more than any I’ve ever had before. We did not order this dish, so I’m so grateful it was brought out to us. Incredible. Highly recommended.

IMG_6454

Let me take this moment to talk about the bread for a second. Boka’s homemade butter and toasty, warm bread (sourdough, if I remember correctly, as well as miniature pretzel rolls) made this meal companion impossible not to devour. I felt like we ate a whole plate of bread. Ok, we did. Owning it. The homemade butter was a deep, rich yellow in color and tasted like a cloud. Is that accurate? My mind and taste buds reminisce and say yes.

I may not be the most technically savvy when it comes to describing my food, but if you want to go to Boka after reading this post, then I’ve done my job.

Next up, Brian and I ordered the salt cod ravioli.

 

IMG_6458

Another uncontrollably gorgeous plate of food. While on the smaller side, neither of us noticed. We were so in awe by each dish’s ability to deliver such complexity in flavor that every taste was worth whatever portion size. Simply seasoned yet delicately prepared, these ingredients created the perfect bite.

At this point, we were in a state of bliss and probably could’ve passed on entrees, even though we had already placed our orders. However, I know that I speak for both of us when I say that we were driven by curiosity and a desire to experience and taste more, even if our stomachs were telling us otherwise. We were smitten and dizzy with Boka love at this point.

IMG_6471 IMG_6472

Grilled beef short rib for my guy, halibut for me.

Hot tip: I recommend trying Boka just for the starters, over a starter and entrees. While these entrees were wonderfully done, Brian and I were so mystified and enamored by our starters that the entrees almost felt like an interruption to a perfect sequence of plates. Stick with the starters. Order them all. Or order a single entree and split with the table (along with starters). Boka, we learned, was all about embracing each bite and fully appreciating the level of detail and care that goes into each dish.

IMG_6475

Last, but certainly not least, we were treated to dessert. Spoiled, really. The creme fraiche cheesecake ended our night on a pathetically happy high note. I impatiently waited to post my photo to Instagram so that I could tell all of my friends about my night. Brian was eager to meet the genius behind it all, Lee Wolen. And as luck would have it, we had the great opportunity to briefly chat with Lee before heading home in sheer delight.

Thank you, Boka, for an unforgettable night. I will sing your praises until I am lucky enough to stop in again.

If  you plan on visiting, ask for Mumo. She was our server, and I have not received such memorable service before. Mumo is knowledgeable, friendly, polite and kind, and will make your experience worthwhile.

Boka: 10/10

To Go or No: Go. Yesterday.