On Saturday afternoon we attended a complimentary Amici Club lunch event at a Carrabba's Italian Grill out in the 'burbs. While we normally tend to avoid chains, we had another positive experience with Carrabba's. The meal consisted of an antipasta (a tasty lightly battered and fried zucchini with a spicy dipping sauce), a Mediterranean salad, samplings of three pasta entrees, and a mini-dessert. The only mediocre item was the salad; it was lacking in any bold flavors that grabbed me. The pastas were definitely the strength of the meal. Our favorite pasta was the tag pic pac topped with grilled chicken. The servers were friendly and attentive through the meal. The Amici Club seems like a good way to preview new dishes and menu changes to top customers (and area bloggers in my case). My one suggestion would be to get more feedback at the end of the meal.
While Chicago and New Orleans (where I grew up) are clearly distinct and different in many ways, one thing that both cities share in common is that the locals support their own when it comes to food brands (and I don't just mean restaurants; I am specifically thinking of the brands that you'll find in the grocery store aisles).
What other local Chicago brands should we check out?
p.s. Mrs. FoodHound and I get a kick out of a section of the local grocery store called "Southern Foods" which is on the same aisle as the ethnic foods. We suddenly sound so exotic.
p.p.s. I did try my first Italian beef sandwich (from Al's Beef in Little Italy) a few weeks ago. It was a messy and delicious treat, but I couldn't get fully into the soggy bread. The nice thing about a good po-boy is that the french bread holds up to the juices and remains flaky on the outside.
As you can see, I've changed up the design a bit for FloridaFoodHound, including integrating the blog with Facebook. I thought it was a good a time as any with making the move here to Chicago from Gainesville, Fla.
I'm also thinking about changing the format of the restaurant reviews I do here. My new goal is to keep all of my reviews short and sweet - a picture and two paragraphs or less. This should make the reviews much tighter and easier to digest, which I think will be good for readers and encourage more updates on my end.
I plan to get up my initial Chicago restaurant review soon. In the meantime, checkout RagasReport where we've been posting some pics and quick bits on restaurants, festivals, and other touristy things that we've done so far.
While I'm in a new city with a zillion times more food options than I had before, what I like hasn't changed - local independent mom-and-pop, generally non-chain, restaurants with great, unique food, reasonable prices, a bit of history, and a dash or two of local color. Always a winning combo. Drop me a line with your favorites.