Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Date Night: The Bavarian Lodge November 19, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:53 pm
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Remember that passport I made Matt for our first anniversary? We finally started putting it to use this past weekend! After doing lots of inside and outside work with our house we decided to try a new place for the both of us. Turning to the restaurant portion of the passport, we chose the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

We arrived at 6 p.m., prime dinner time. And we learned our lesson, that will not happen again. There was an hour wait. We both really wanted German food so we got a number and headed towards the bar. Our friends had mentioned before that the beer list is quite impressive, and after seeing the draft and bottle list, boy were they right. The Bavarian Lodge definitely gives Palmer’s Place in LaGrange a good run for a spectacular beer selection.

Beers in hand, the time passed by and 45 minutes later a table opened up for us. Our waitress was simply delightful. She walked us through the specials, her favorites and recommended we get our orders in quickly since the kitchen was a little behind. Following her suggestion we ordered an appetizer of potato pancakes, liver dumpling soup and then our entrees. Even though the place was packed, our meal was perfectly timed and we didn’t feel rushed.

For dinner, Matt went with the German sausage platter, featuring three different types of sausage and a slice of meatloaf. For my choice, I decided on the pick two option with a schnitzel and thuringer sausage. The portions were very hardy. I saved my whole sausage and even Matt had leftovers. But I wasn’t too full for dessert. We split an almond poppyseed strudel that was outstanding! The dessert arrived nice and warm and was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Matt and I both decided we want to go back. Good thing my parents wedding anniversary is coming up next month. Now, we know just the spot we’ll take them to celebrate!


Food Passport May 13, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:42 pm
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After I moved in September, Dave and I started checking out all the restaurants we’ve never been to before in my new town.  He mentioned it might be cool to keep a list of where we’ve gone so we could make sure to hit all the possibilities.  Not too long ago I was perusing Pinterest and found a Pin for a ‘Food Passport.’  The site it came from (thespottedfox.com) apparently doesn’t work anymore, otherwise I would link it for you.  It was exactly what Dave had been talking about but in a little book format!  I went to Michaels and found a little pocket notebook that was in their dollar bin.  {By the way if you didn’t realize that Michael’s has a dollar bin, you really should check it out sometime.  Some of stuff is cheesy, but I usually find something useful in there and it’s of course only a dollar!} passport Moving along with my story…I got the notebook and then proceeded to look on my town’s website.  Luckily they have an alphabetized list of restaurants which made my job even easier!  I drew a horizontal line right across the middle of each page and proceeded to put the name and address of each restaurant, along with a box to check off where we have been.  I also wanted a rating system, so I am going to use star stickers to mark between 1 and 5 stars.  This should be fun because we have visited quite a few of these already so we will get to do a few ratings right away!  It will also encourage us not to go to the same places over and over and try new things.

4 pages


Chew-Chew and Choo-Choo February 26, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:27 am
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Lately it seems are dining options are included with some type of transportation theme. This weekend was no different. My friend Tom asked if Matt and I were free to grab dinner with his family on Saturday. All Tom had to say was burgers and “train restaurant” to get Matt to say yes.

We carpooled over to 2 Toots Grill at 6 p.m. Our timing was impeccable. We only waited about ten minutes before the line literally was out the door. The place was jammed packed with families. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom’s, dad’s you name the family member, they were there. Plus a cousin or two.

The set up of the restaurant was like an old-time dinner. Except for one very cool exception. Winding around the tables were to miniature trains that delivered your food right to your table. All the kids were mesmerized by the trains moving around the track. Even some adults, my husband included.

Food Train

Food Train

The menu was straightforward featuring burgers, hot dogs and egg salad sandwiches as their specialities for adults. Kids could enjoy much of the same in smaller portions all at reasonable prices. One item that caught my eye was hand-spun shakes. It’s pretty rare when I pass up an opportunity to enjoy a creamy vanilla milkshake, even if it’s only 20 degrees out. Of course I got the shake and paired it with a grass fed bacon cheese burger. And I ate it all because it was good.

Service all around was great. The staff was very friendly and accomodating. Many stopped to say hi to the adorable almost two-year old with us. Even despite the growing line of customers waiting for a table, we were able to enjoy our meal and not feel rushed.

All in all, I’d recommend 2 Toots Grill especially if you have kids. It’s a magical place for kids and to be part of that over a meal is pretty special.


Weekend in the Burbs July 24, 2013

Last weekend was an out and about in the Chicago burbs. Saturday afternoon we headed north to Evanston. We met up with my old college friend, her husband and adorable baby girl at Bat 17. Holy cow, you need to go to Bat 17. Amazing food, ambiance and beer selection coupled with massive food portions. We ordered the bruschetta which could have easily feed six (each piece was massive) and topped with delicious tomatoes and cheese. For our main meals, I ordered the turkey burger (delicious) and Matt got the guacamole burger (also delicious). Still needing something sweet, I ordered a chocolate chip cookie to go that was about four times the size of a normal cookie. I was in cookie heaven. We had so much food left over we didn’t stop at Whole Foods before heading to our next spot, Ravinia.

We enjoyed the scenic drive from Evanston to Highland Park. We oo’ed and ah’ed as we followed Ridge Avenue Northbound. Every so often we caught glimpses of the lake and a few parks. Matt and I both decided we’re coming back to check out the parks and swim.

In order to get a good lawn spot for the sold out, “Under the Sun” Ravinia show, we got there right at 4:15PM. The line-up included Fastball, Vertical Horizon, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth. We headed towards the back of the park and found an excellent space to break camp.

Our Ravinia Set-Up

Our Ravinia Set-Up

All of our wedding shower gifts came in massively handy! We broke in our Uno game, used our table, chairs, wine glasses and picnic basket. All of the bands did a great job playing their greatest hits. We had a blast singing along…until the rain hit. Right before Smash Mouth went on, it started to thunderstorm. Matt and I did bring our rain jackets but naturally left them in the car. We sure did learn our lesson! So, unfortunately we left before Smash Mouth took the stage to head home.

Sunday we hit up the Germanfest in Lombard held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with our friends the Ludwigs. Our first stop was the air conditioned gym for a few games of bingo. Unfortunately no one won in our group, though we did try! Once we felt sufficiently cool we headed out to the food tent to enjoy the sounds of “HiFi Superstar” an alternative rock band. We grabbed our German beers as well as very reasonably priced bratwurst plates to enjoy the music and people watching. Two beers later and after the band’s set we decided head back.

Lombard’s Germanfest

All in all one great weekend hanging out in the suburbs. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next weekend!


Tapas and Cupcakes August 22, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:43 pm
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Last Friday a few of Matt’s friends visited for a birthday/engagement dual celebration. Major props to the guys because they mostly planned it minus one twist for dessert (I couldn’t help myself). The festivities began at the Beacon, a local bar in Forest Park. Unfortunately I missed out on the first round due to basketball practice – yep that started again too!

After a quick shower and a change, I met up with the group to head downtown. The weather was perfect for a night out on the town. Next stop was Cafe Iberico, a Spanish tapas restaurant. We ordered a tasty pitcher of red sangria and a few small hot and cold plates. My favorites were the cold red potato with garlic mayonnaise, the spicy potatoes in a tomato sauce and the steamed mussels with marinara sauce. But we didn’t stop there. We also ordered a paella. A paella is a classic dish served in Spain. The contents may vary but typically it’s a baked dish with saffron rice, seafood, peas and other meats like chicken or pork. Our paella was delicious, so delicious that dish was practically licked clean. We did exercise civility though since we were out in a very public location.

Filled with an excellent dinner, we took a walk to “earn” our dessert. Insert my opportunity to steer us to one of my favorite places for sweets downtown – More. Just a half mile walk from Cafe Iberico is More, a fabulous place for cupcakes. Upon walking in Matt and I both zeroed in on the “white Russian”. Our friends picked up the classic red velvet and a cookies and cream. I think this was the first time where I had to make sure Matt equally shared a dessert. And Matt still might be talking about the white Russian…at least that means I might have a return trip to More in the near future!

With our bellies officially now full, it was a good thing we had to walk back to the Green line. I’ve decided tapas and cupcakes definitely make a good mix especially when you have great company! Next time you are in the city and looking for a reasonably priced tapas restaurant check out Cafe Iberico. Plus, I can never give too many plugs to More cupcakes on the off chance that one day they’ll read my blog and decide to give me a cupcake a week for the rest of my life. Here’s to dreaming!


Night Out in Evanston October 26, 2011

What do you know about Evanston? Besides …

  • That the purple line goes there
  • A little university called Northwestern
  • Tasty neighborhood restaurants
  • Cozy live theatre venues
  • Headquarters of Rotary International
  • Quite a few museums
  • Umteen galleries
  • And a whole bunch of cultural organizations.

Honestly, I only knew about the first two. Thanks to my dude and Google, I learned about the rest. My northern boundary for the most part is Irving Park Road. After a fun evening in Evanston this weekend I found out I need to do more exploring.

The night began at Campagnola Restaurant. The restaurant received many points throughout the night.

  1. They proudly use locally grown and organic products
  2. Nice variety of wines
  3. Delightful desserts – I had the vanilla bean bread pudding…and warned my date that I might have to lick the plate
  4. The atmosphere is intimate, relaxed and chic
  5. Succulent entrees – I had the special – halibut in a cream corn sauce with sweet onions

So, yes I would go back to Campagnola. After dinner the next stop was the Piccolo Theatre. And a literal stop it was, on the Metra. Housed in the unexpected location of Evanston’s working train depot, it provides one unique location.

Spectators were treated to a theatre-in–the-round style of closing night of “Comedy of Errors”.  It was an intimate performance with only around 30 seats.  Focused on engagement, the actors easily interacted with the audience during the show. In such a small space, the use of key props as doorways made the stage seemed larger and acted as great transitional cues.

The show was highly entertaining. The live band played a perfect background tune setting up each scene, whether adding drama or complimenting Dromio’s lament. If you’re looking for a neighborhood theatre with quality actors, go no further than the Piccolo.


Mondays as Fun Days? August 3, 2011

A few weeks ago, I took a day off. It is very rare for me to take just one random day; I am more of a week+ sort of person, especially when travelling internationally. But I have to say, for my first solo day off it went really well, and spending it in downtown Chicago and Naperville didn’t hurt.

It started off by hitting up a favorite for breakfast, Bakin’ & Eggs, since they have “flights” of bacon. Yes, you can get a sampling plate of 4-5 different types of bacon. Getting hungry? Their breakfast sandwiches and scrabbles are also quite tasty. I had a fabulous scramble with caramelized onion and blue cheese and a few links of turkey sausage. I was a proud member of the clean plate club.

After a delicious start to the day, it was time to work off breakfast by walking around the Lincoln Park Zoo. LPZ has several positive points, number one – it’s free. Two, it’s compact. Three – just check out their annual summer concert play list for a unique concert experience. Four – the people watching is almost as entertaining as animal watching. (My personal favorites regarding animals are the seals and polar bears. The penguins come in a closer third.) Five – if you get there early or get lucky, there’s free parking on Stockton.

After the Zoo we started to hanker for tapas…and naturally the only place to go was Meson Sabika in Naperville. Situated a little past downtown in a beautiful historic home, the ambiance radiated awesomeness.  Taking a seat outside on the patio, our group ordered peach sangria that cooled the palette and left you refreshed and maybe on the floor if we had ordered another pitcher. Small plates were shared of garlic potato salad (don’t plan on kissing anyone later because you’ll want to lick the entire plate), bacon wrapped dates, blue cheese stuffed beef tenderloin, and many other dishes. Oh, and of course we each got a dessert. Flan, chocolate cake, cheesecake, dulce de leche, and ice cream were passed around for tastes.

All in all, I’d say it was one solid day off. I might have to do that more often.


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