Ditkas – food chicago

If you watch football you know of Mike Ditka, the Hall of Fame player and coach. He has a namesake restaurant in Chicago and after losing a bet on my beloved Browns against the Bears we settled with lunch at the restaurant of “Da Coach.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the milieu was upscale with some memorabilia but it was tastefully presented, this place was about the food, comfort food with large portions.

We started with a glass of cab, the “Hall of Fame” red and it was quite good. The house brand is made out near Napa by Terlato wines.

A Ditka/Terlato cab drinks very nicely

A Ditka/Terlato cab drinks very nicely

We had our eye on the filet mignon sliders, but chose the pot roast nachos. They were great, the kind of snack that you just can’t leave unfinished. The delicate meat combined with the salty chips and a zesty but not too hot halipeno slices was just right.

The pot roast nachos were outstanding - but almost a full meal

The pot roast nachos were outstanding – but almost a full meal

The bread rolls were excellent, but not photogenic. For my entree I had a pork chop ( well done by request ) served with mashed sweet potatoes and apple chutney and cherry jus with a side of creamed corn. The chop was cooked perfectly, and I admit I gnawed a bit on the bone after the meat had been dispatched. The sauce was very good.

charred perfectly, with apple chutney

charred perfectly, with apple chutney

The creamed corn was not your traditional canned green-giant corn of my youth. This wasn’t sweet and had a hint of garlic but was smooth and rich to the taste. It was outstanding. My friend took the remaining corn home and they fed it to his very aged mother in law who had been off her feed. She finished every bite. I suppose that solidifies the cream corn as comfort food!

putting the c in comfort food

putting the c in comfort food

For dessert, just a little vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sauce. The perfect ending to an excellent meal.

the perfect finish

the perfect finish


Kappy’s in Skokie – food root beer

In the middle of the cold snap I dropped my wife and daughter off at the airport for a trip to Costa Rica. That left me frozen and forlorn by Skokie Illinois. I stopped at a friendly looking place place called Kappys. A family owned and run place for thirty years, the owner came out and greeted every customer, many by name.

Imagine my surprise when I saw they had a premium root beer on tap, Sprecher’s from Wisconsin.

I'm drowning my sorrows

I’m drowning my sorrows

Since it was early, I went the breakfast comfort route…. Biscuits and gravy, eggs over easy and sausage…. Chicago is a great place to eat, there’s great places at almost every corner.

premium root beer, Kappys a great place to dine in Skokie

premium root beer, Kappys a great place to dine in Skokie


cooper’s hawk – food

My dad enjoyed his cups. But every year for one month he would abstain from drink. Of course he always chose February, the shortest month. I suppose leap years were an extra trial. Therefore I will return in March to the blogging world. Hope to see you in a bit.

It’s funny how pecking order works at a business lunch. The waitress approaches the end of the table and asks the junior member what he prefers for a beverage. He hesitates, then blurts out iced tea. Around the seats she goes, and lemonade, Arnold Palmer ( a Chicago drink of 1/2 lemonade 1/2 iced tea ) , water, coke join the list until she comes to the leader. He looks around, says “I’ll have a glass of wine,” and immediately seven other orders get changed.

Restaurants grow and change, and this one continues to grow and gets better and better.

Cooper’s Hawk has a big wine list as they are a vintner, I took a taste of a Meritage ( a blend which should drink like a Bordeaux ), but it was a bit lite so I settled on a nice oakey chardonnay.

nice oak, clear, no aftertaste - a good wine

nice oak, clear, no aftertaste – a good wine

Of course a larger group means more appetizers — the Mexican egg rolls and calamari were fun, the potstickers outstanding. I even tried the crab-cake, and found it full of crab meat which retained the feel and light flavor crab is so famous for. This was a great warm up.

all good, but the goyza ( potstickers ) and crab cakes were out of this world

all good, but the goyza ( potstickers ) and crab cakes were out of this world

Then the cheese plate and pretzel bread. I suspect that if I were Super-man, pretzel bread might have qualities of kryptonite.

a fun mix - a cheese plate helps conversation

a fun mix – a cheese plate helps conversation

kryptonite to weight watchers.... sigh I'll have one more piece

kryptonite to weight watchers…. sigh I’ll have one more piece

One thing I admire at Cooper’s Hawk is that they really offer good lunch selections with smaller portion size. I chose the pork medallions, mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was Estafee ( a reference to H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy Papers for Sci-fi fans, which translates to essential and great )

Not to much, but each bit bursting with flavor

Not to much, but each bit bursting with flavor

Then it was time for dessert. I was up for something different, and tried their home-made ice-cream sandwich. Thin slices of banana, a wafer with a crisp toasted texture delicious ice-cream and a very light subtly sweep syrup. Each bite was a delight of texture, balanced flavor, subtly sweet wrapped around the richness of ice cream. This is one of the best desserts I have chanced across.

exceeding every expectation...

exceeding every expectation…

Of course then it’s the expresso ( the smallest amount of coffee possible ) to get through the afternoon.

Great meals are always enhanced by conversation and company. The people and sharing are what makes dining fine.


foie gras – food Chef Amaury at 33 West

How to celebrate ? Call ahead to your favorite chef and ask them to do a foie gras. It’s not on the menu, but if you’re lucky….

Martinelli Jackass Hill Muscat Alexandria,

Martinelli Jackass Hill Muscat Alexandria,

Start with a sweet white, it adds perfectly to the rich taste of the foie gras.

why not have the main course first ?

why not have the main course first ?

Foie gras, on a roasted lady apple with mushrooms and a heavenly sauce.

Next the big red which opened up wonderfully as we dined.

abadia-retuerta which really rose to the occassion

abadia-retuerta which really rose to the occassion

The salad…

baby greens, dried cranberries, goat cheese, candied nuts and a champagne vinaigrette

baby greens, dried cranberries, goat cheese, candied nuts and a champagne vinaigrette

The soup…

cannellini bean, smoked bacon, onion mascarpone

cannellini bean, smoked bacon, onion mascarpone

For dessert, a cheese plate…

artisanal cheese plate

artisanal cheese plate

A wine infused fig, Amish blue cheese, Bellavitano with a wine rind, pistachios, local cheeses and a drizzle of caramel, organic honey, cranberry jam

Another great meal from Chef Amaury.


cheap and good – food

One more day with my daughter, then she’s off to work and it’s just me, veggies and the juicer… Read the rest of this entry »


zapatista mexican restaurant – food

So Monster ( his cycling club nickname ) and I decided to try Mexican for lunch. Read the rest of this entry »


caravan of dreams

We hit the big apple for a day for ( country mouse, me ) to visit my sister ( city mouse ). Read the rest of this entry »


if elvis likes it….

Among other things like truth and beauty, Read the rest of this entry »


one enchanted evening…

A leisurely meal at Chef Amaury’s 33 West in downtown Aurora Illinois. A meal shared with the one you love always tastes better. Pictures complements of my wife’s iPad Read the rest of this entry »


delightful tapas

I discovered tapas ( those delightful Spanish appetizers ) by accident. I happened to park in front a restaurant in Naperville, IL that served them, and strolled in to try one. I have been a fan ever since. Designed as finger food, tapas are best shared with friends, where you can each savor the variety of different tastes where each bite is accented with cheese or a sauce to help bring out the maximum flavor.
Read the rest of this entry »