Monday, May 30, 2011

Cheap Eats Review: Xoco (Chicago, USA)

 Xoco ***

There are not many places I see myself returning for a bite on a daily basis.....Xoco is one of them. "The little sister" (in Aztec) to Rick Bayless' Mexican restaurant empire in Chicago, Xoco offers a modern take on Mexican street food. It sits just next to the mid-range Frontera Grill (review coming) and  fancy Topolobampo (1 Michelin starred).

Yes, Rick Bayless was the winner of Season 1 of Top Chef mean feat when chefs like Wylie Dufresne of NYC's wd~50 and Hubert Keller were some of the many world class chefs competing.

Beware of the long lunch queue...but worth the wait!
Xoco is open from breakfast to dinner but lunch is probably the busiest service period. The menu is large and varied. 

The warm tortas (sandwiches) are amazingly crusty and crispy....straight from the wood fired oven. 
With so many delicious options, I went for the Top Chef torta - a dish Rick Bayless created in the show's challenge.....braised beef tongue and chorizo....2 of my favourite things (among many, of course)!

Salsa verde
The torta was amazing - the braised tongue tender and chorizo adding plenty of flavours. Bits of avocado balances the torta filling in textures and adds natural "creaminess". The torta reminded me of Barcelona's Cafe Viena in La Rambla - perfectly crusty and toasted.

 Just as amazing was the short rib red chile soup (caldos). Braised Tallgrass shortribs in a red chile broth with roasted vegetables - truly unbelievable! Toppings of wild arugula added natural pepperiness and further texture.

Not a single drop wasted!
We were so impressed we returned for breakfast.....The churros was perfectly cooked - crisp on the outside and a touch fluffy on the inside. Care was taken with each churros - all coated with light dusting of sugar and cinammon - not too much and not too little. OK - let's make this clear - this was way better than churros found in the small alley of Barcelona, Spain.

The huevos rancheros - eggs with roasted tomato-serrano sauce, black beans on a bed of tortilla was hearty...but nothing outstanding.

Hats off! Frontera Grill, here I come!
Cheap Eats Rating (Xoco): 19.5/20

By Gastronomic G.

Rating explained:

Scores 18 to 20 = *** (3 stars) = World class and close to perfection
Scores 16 to <18 = ** (2 stars) = An exceptional and special dining experience
Scores 15 to <16 = * (1 star) = Very good to great dining experience
Scores 13 to <15 = Good but not memorable
Scores 10 to <13 = Acceptable
Scores <10 = Are you sure you want to eat here?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Warehouse conversion opportunity: slipping away..

Firstly, I have to apologize for neglecting this little blog of mine. I was under the impression that no one was reading. But I have been told otherwise recently... so this is my second attempt to keep it going! Booyah! LOL

Anyways, a LOT has happened in my absence of blogging. Took up a job that requires quite a bit of travelling, hence my sporadic blogging. Maybe I should learn how to post from my Iphone! Anyways, did some exciting design store oogling on my recent trip to Chicago - I LOVE EVERYTHING in the Jonathan Adler store.. well almost everything.. Anyways, more on that in my future post. Keith did his usual food exploration as well in Chicago.. so he was quite pleased with that.

Anyways, Keith & I are on the hunt for our new abode & I came across this wonderful warehouse.. Now.. I really really wanted this place but.... this place does not have certificate of occupation, the bank doesn't like it & my solicitor is advising against it... unless it's a cash purchase &/or if it's going for a song.

This place used to be a nut factory and is sooo.. exciting that I have already drawn up a floor plan & envisioned the space with the alterations and finishes that I wanted to put in it.. I even had a builder to look at it to estimate cost of renovation.

This is going on auction tomorrow. Unfortunately I have to give that up at the eleventh hour.. was stressed up thinking about it for the past 2 days..

Link of this property here while lasts. Here's what I'll be missing:

Arghh... Heartbreak...

By the Quirky One