On Sunday, Sean, Sarah and I headed to the charming and scenic neighborhood near DePaul University where two of the places on my list were located conveniently next to one another. Our first stop was Floriole, a two-story cafe and bakery that ended up far exceeding my expectations. Walking in the door, I immediately fell in love with the decor and open layout. Natural light floods the space and dozens of food items filled the counter, making for a colorful and lively display.
I spent several minutes ogling the pastries, but was able to divert my attention from them long enough to consider my savory options to start. There was an array of delicious-looking pizzettes and sandwiches and creative salads. But wanting to fully indulge in the sweets both at Floriole and our next stop, I kept my lunch dish small with the kohlrabi, lentil and apple salad, along with a kouign-amann, a pastry that masqueraded as a side dish.
I never would have thought to marry these ingredients, but it more than worked. The juicy sweetness of the apples was pleasant against the crunchy kohlrabi and starchy lentils. Kouign-amanns are one of my newest pastry favorites. It’s a thick round of buttery, flakey pastry, sprinkled with coarse grains of sugar. The edges are dark, caramelized and crispy. Beneath the crispy exterior are soft, chewy layers of pastry.
Before we left I got a vanilla macaron that was just okay. We were back in the area later that day and I was fortunate enough to snag a few more pastries just before they closed, including a rhubarb tart and an absolutely delightful blueberry scone.
1220 W. Webster Ave
Conveniently located next to Floriole was Sweet Mandy B’s, a bright, pastel-colored bakery filled with cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more. The selection was a little overwhelming but one particular cupcake looked excellent.
The banana cupcake with chocolate frosting was perfection. Banana cupcakes often end up being banana bread in cupcake form, denser and chewier than cake should be. This cake was light as air and moist with a generous layer of rich frosting.
I was also intrigued by the chocolate toffee cabinet pudding. I had never heard of cabinet pudding, which is the same as bread pudding but made with cake instead of bread. Chocolate with toffee sauce is a luxurious combination if ever there was one and I picked up one of these when we returned later in the day. The top part that was drenched in toffee sauce was lovely. Underneath that, it was underwhelming – just plain, slightly mushy chocolate cake. It would have benefitted greatly from some additional toffee sauce and maybe some melted chocolate mixed in with the cake.
Sweet Mandy B’s
1208 W. Webster Ave
We spent the afternoon checking out some of Chicago’s most popular attractions: Millenium Park, the bean (of course), Navy Pier, the Ferris wheel, and more. All were excellent and definitely recommended for first-time visitors to the city.
Dinner took us to Farmhouse, a restaurant less than six months old that focuses on Midwestern grown ingredients and takes its beer very seriously. The service was warm and the setting charming with metal beams and intimate booths. Based on our food, there were a few kinks still to be worked out, which is to be expected considering how new it is. In addition to the several Midwestern craft beers, Farmhouse also offers a housemade root beer, above left.
Chicken Pot Pie Pastie with Nueske’s smoked ham, root vegatables, wilted chard, and white country gravy
My Farmhouse Chop Salad, with grilled chestnuts, carrots, radish, Wisconsin dried cranberries, candied almonds and creamy herb cider dressing was enjoyable but not stellar. If it’s called a chopped salad I expect the components to be chopped a little more finely. The dressing was wonderful though, with a hint of sweetness from the cider.
Sarah’s tomato and leek soup and wagon wheel mac and cheese. I loved the pasta shape, one I don’t often see in restaurants, but the dish was under-salted.
At the end of the meal the check comes tucked inside an antique almanac, which, our server informed us, the restaurant’s owner purchases regularly off of Ebay.
Farmhouse was very relaxed and homey, the perfect setting for an evening spent enjoying the company of two of my favorite people who I don’t see nearly enough. And if you are a beer aficionado who happens to be in Chicago, Farmhouse should definitely be on your list.
228 W. Chicago Ave
Still to come, The Publican and my final day in Chicago…