Wow, what an amazing weekend! I can’t believe it’s already the eve of the middle of the week and I’m just now getting a chance to share. I’ve been having a sort of love affair with the West Loop for a few years now… along with pretty much every other lover of food and wine in Chicago and across the country. There’s good reason, too. This area is just booming and everything that’s good to eat seems to be housed here.
Saturday, Greg and I started with a java hit at La Colombe. Put simply: it was amazing. Greg is still raving about it today. The coffee was great, the latte was phenomenal. There were hints of caramel that just rocked our world. Pastries are sourced from Hannah’s Bretzel and Alliance Bakery. If you haven’t been yet, please do yourself a favor and go. (And make sure you check out the pure black coffee while you’re there!)
Next we took a walk over to Publican Quality Meats to grab some goods for lunch. This is the place to be although I’m sure most of you reading this already know that because I’m guessing you’ve already been Walking through the door, we were greeted with a nice porky aroma and what appeared to be slight chaos. Is there a line? Do you get a number? How do I order? What in the world is a pork pie? Luckily, there were a few people who worked there helping everyone understand the procedure: wiggle your way up to the counter, get a number from the staff behind the counter, give them your name and place your order. Ready, go! We had the privilege of working with Earling who was super knowledgeable (so smart and helpful, I asked him his name just so I could tell you all about him). We left with some Benton ham, a slice of porchetta, some hard salami, and a bit of terrine. Their sandwiches look amazing (next time I go, which will hopefully be soon, I’m chowing down on their mortadella, that’s for d*mn sure!). There’s ample space to sit which was surprising and the selection of prepared goods is outstanding. I expect nothing less from you, Paul Kahan, but thank you for exceeding my expectations.
Finally, we made our way to D’Amato’s Bakery for some bread. I should note that Publican Quality has really amazing bread too, but I had already set my heart on D’Amato’s. (And for those who want to challenge my geography – yes, I think D’Amato’s is technically West Town but I’m lumping this into the West Loop because, really, it’s thisclose anyway!) This place is the epitome of old school Italian: tiny shop, vintage cash register, frozen Italian foods in the freezer made by the chef downstairs in the basement… We went in for a small loaf of bread but I couldn’t leave without a bag of cookies as well. The loaf was perfect – chewy on the inside, nice crunch on the outside, and sesame seeds that just pop in your mouth. The cookies are the best Italian ones I’ve had thus far in Chicago. The closest to my hometown’s La Guli Bakery cookies yet. Mmmmm!!
Overall, we had quite a feast – cured meats, yummy breads, a nice bottle of wine (Ruta 22 Malbec, 2010, from Patagonia), and some Italian cookies for dessert. That’s my kind of meal!
And my love affair with the West Loop continues.