Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Short Detour In The City…

I took a detour off West Belmont to go to a little Vietnamese restaurant that had some good reviews.

Nha Trang at 3711 West Belmont has the potential be a great little place but it fell short. The Bun Thit nuong Cha Gio (translated: roasted BBQ pork and fried Vietnamese egg rolls with rice noodle and salad) was good but it lacked a lot of the flavor that I have enjoyed with traditional Bun at other restaurants. I did add a fair amount of hot sauce and it helped. The owners need to work on their customer service skills and also add a bit more meat to their food. I had a disproportionate amount of rice and noodles to pork.

From there, my biggest treat of the day was the Sanabel Bakery at 4213 N Kendzie. Amira Mounsef was so charming and insisted that I try a incredible little pocket of fresh bread stuffed full of onions, spices and spinach.

I could not get over the variety of fresh breads that they bake fresh every day. They also carry a wide variety of domestic and foreign groceries. The Al Khayyam Bakery at 4738 N Kenzie was a huge disappointment to me. The difference in service alone would compel me to buy all of my groceries at Sanabel.

I also stopped at a White Castle at 3212 West Addison because I have never been inside one before. I’ve had sliders at the Gold Sardine Bar back in the early 90’s while watching Patricia Barber. The Gold Star Sardine Bar was one of the last cabarets in Chicago until it closed in 1997. I loved the place.

Two more spots that I fell into were:

Los Potrillos at 3624 West Belmont. This grocery store had a little Taqueria with about 15 seats and 14 of them were full.I didn’t actually plan on trying the food but when I saw all the people lined up at the counter and at the high stools, I was in. The steak taco – for under $2.00 was incredible and so was the bowl of beef soup. I’ll be back as this litle cheap eat was so much better than good.

I also stopped in to the Alternative Garden Supply at 3625 N. Kenzie which has 6 Brew and Grown stores in the area. Not only do they offer everything you need to brew your own beer – my ex-husband use to make a really strong Amber beer so I knew something about the process – but they also grow a lot of fresh vegetables which they give to their customers. I walked out with some beautiful varities of lettuce and a whole new appreciation for hops. The staff is all young and fun, If you have an ambition to start making your own brew, this is the place to come.

We’ll discover some more unusual places in the city in the weeks to come. Just have to decide where I am going to take the detour.

Bon Appetit!