Half of the Tribune’s dining staff is engaged in the al fresco project this week. Phil Vettel posts a master list of outdoor dining venues with themes like “Sandiest” (Oak Street Beachstro), “Best downtown view” (Pegasus), and “Best imitation of Paris (city, not convict)” (Kiki’s Bistro). [Of course, Paris the convict is already out of jail]. Trine Tsouderos, Kevin Pang and Monica Eng have a few recommendations of their own to add: Cru Wine Bar, Sheffield’s, and NoMI, among the notables.
As long as you’re outside, Monica says, you might as well eat some bugs. Monica’s divulged her love affair with the insect in the past, so this piece was really inevitable. Top spots to indulge? Tepatulco has a sauteed grasshopper appetizers, which you ought to eat with your eyes closed. And the venerable Sticky Rice offers both fried bamboo caterpillars and an omelet with ant eggs (the Sun-Times covered the same back in April).
Oh, but there’s more! The article is reprinted in The Stew, where the intrepid viewer can watch the even more intrepid Ms. Eng open up a can of Korean silkworm pupae on video, and eat one! Evidently they’re a standard Korean bar food, with a crunchy exterior and a creamy interior. She manages to masticate and swallow without vomiting, and notes that they have a “smoky, nutty, dirt-ish finish.” We think they look like little walnuts.
One more thing: you know all our ranting about “blue” this and “blu” in the previous post? Well, it just goes to show…today’s Cheap Eats is about a Mexican restaurant called Blue Oasis Cafe, and it’s located in Blue Island, IL. Almost spooky!
[Photo: screencap from the Eng-pupa showdown]