Valentines Dinner, Part 1

Hello from the air!  (I’m flying & probably taking a midterm right now while this post is being released to the internets.  Ahh the glorious things technology can do, for me & for you.)

And to clarify, yes, there are two parts – two dinners – to our Valentine’s weekend.  I know, its kind of ridiculous, but when you pair that together with the fact that Mr. K and I live 2000 miles away and we get to see each other about every six weeks (sometimes longer), it makes a bit more sense Smile

For our first dinner Friday night, after spending the day lazing around, we got all dressed up and headed to The Drawing Room for a gourmet meal on the town.

Since we misread our reservations and arrived at 7:30 instead of 7:00pm, when the reservation actually was, we headed to the bar for a cocktail – from the Best Bartender in America (from the show On the Rocks on LXTV).  I had a Burlesque L’Amour & Mr. K had a classic Manhattan.  The Manhattan is fabulous, as a Manhattan always is, and I was pleasantly surprised by the Burlesque L’Amour.  It was a champagne cocktail, and while the flavors weren’t what I expected (there was anise in it – and I’m not an anise fan), but they mixed together just right to create a delicious palate.  If I could describe it, I would, but I’m not a mixologist, so I can just say this: hit the spot Smile


Once they found us a table, we then moved onto dinner.  Mr. K did the “Valentines Day Menu” and (because it couldn’t be altered to be dairy free) I did a three course meal off the regular menu.

First up for me?  Steak Frites with Beef Tartare.


(Okay, so if you blow up the picture the beef tartare doesn’t look that good, but never judge a book by its cover).

The steak frites were awesome, and the truffle mayo dip they had paired?  INCREDIBLE!  The beef tartar?  While I’m not normally a fan of raw meat, I do like trying new things.  And this?  This was delicious.  It paired really well with the steak frites & mayo dip.  Like really well.  Props to the chef. 

My second course was Crab Graintee.


It was a nice change from the steak frites.  It was fresh, well seasoned and had lots of delicious veggies – garlic roasted broccoli, pickled carrots, watercress.  And besides the lump crab (and I definitely loved it – this was one of the first times I’ve had it not in sushi), the other star (for me) was potato gnocchi.  I love gnocchi.  If you haven’t tried it – you should.  Fab-u-lous.

My final dish, and main entrée, was the Mahi Mahi.

P1110209        P1110210

The Mahi Mahi was cooked to perfection.  The fish meat just flaked apart, and kind of melted in my mouth.  And the parsnips, leeks, kohlrabi & swiss chard added some nice texture flavoring to the mix.  The kicker though?  What made the meal come together?  The kumquat-pomegranate vinaigrette.  It was seriously deadly.  I love kumquat flavor & smell (though I have yet actually eat a real one) and pomegranate is, well pomegranate Smile  Delicious.

While I was noshing on my mix, Mr. K opted for the Valentine’s Day menu – a four course meal with cocktail pairings.  (He shared his cocktails with me).

First up for Mr. K: Hamachi Crudo paired with “First Base” made with Hendrick’s.


The first course was very good (straight from Mr. K) and the liquor pairing (it almost tasted like a lemon) went really well with the dish.  I snagged a piece of the hamachi crudo, and by golly: it was delicious.

Second on the menu was Edamame Bisque paired with “A Trois.”


Although I wanted to snag a bite of this delicious looking (and smelling) course, the spearmint crème fraiche prevented me from doing so.  Mr. K, however, noted that the creamy soup with the buffed barley and oyster mushrooms paired with his drink was the best pairing of the evening.  The A Trois was a champagne cocktail and was definitely tres chic.

Mr. K’s main course was the Duck Breast paired with “St. Valentine’s Day Molassacre.”P1110211

Let me just say this: this smelled incredible.  And if hadn’t been for the probably layer of butter that was slathered on the duck breast I would’ve taken this dish right out from under Mr. K’s nose.  He said the duck breast was cooked & seasoned exquisitely, but that (although the drink was delicious), it wasn’t as great of a pairing.

His final course was the Flourless Chocolate Torte paired with “Faunus.”

I will admit that I forgot to take a photo of his last course…but I was too enthralled by his drink pairing (of which I happily admit I drank most of).  It contained one of my favorite liquors, which I discovered while living in Argentina: Fernet Branca.  If you haven’t had it, it’s a very herby-medicinal flavor (do NOT think cherry cough syrup because that is NOT  at all what this is like) that mixes well with Coke, and in this case a few other liquors.

But our experience at The Drawing Room was phenomenal once again (we went once last year), and its definitely on my ‘recommendation’ list for a cool, loungy restaurant with incredible food at a not too outlandish price.  We don’t eat out like this a lot (and in fact since we’re so far a part we don’t eat out a lot), so for a special occasion or once in a blue moon, it’s a great treat to have such a fantastic meal.

Afterward, we headed to Jazz Showcase (one of the oldest Jazz clubs in Chicago) to take in some fantastic jazz music as a night cap to the night.  It was the perfect way to spend my first night back in Chicago with Mr. K since New Years, and it was a fabulous break from my school work (which is, however, currently looming over my head: 65 essay midterms to grad for the course I am a TA for, a 4 page midterm and a long econometrics assignment).

Remember that Dairy Free Cinnamon Ricotta & Pancetta Breakfast Casserole I teased you with earlier?  Its coming, I promise.  I’ll have the recipe & recap first thing tomorrow morning (I need to do some midterm grading and taking).  Until then, a taste of what within the casserole goodness:


Do you have Valentine’s Day plans (with significant other/friends/family)?  How do you (or do you not) celebrate?  I’m not a big V-day celebrator.  I guess it probably stems from the fact I never celebrated it until three years ago when I met Mr. K.  But even since then, I’ve always kind of been awkward about it.  Truth be told, it was just by chance that this weekend was V-Day weekend for Mr. K & I.  He had tickets to the Lyric Opera on Saturday & Friday off, so I figured it would be the perfect time to come to Chicago – and as a bonus it was the weekend of lurve Winking smile


2 thoughts on “Valentines Dinner, Part 1

  1. Sounds like a great Valentine’s Day weekend, even if unintended as a V-Day celebration!

    No big Valentine’s Day plans in these parts. I’m teaching tonight, though I did decide to drive home instead of crashing in a cheap North Jersey motel like I usually do on Monday nights. I’m envisioning a glass of wine and a game of scrabble in my future.

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