German and Greek Food with Family
Win's parents came for a visit over the Labor Day weekend. We did some cooking at home (dinner their first night here was grilled herbed pork chops, corn on the cob, fresh spinach with lemon and olive oil, salad and then homemade cake for dessert) and lots of eating out. Since we live in the heart of the city, there are too many good restaurants to share with guests and we usually do more dining out than cooking when they come. I always tell myself that that will change if we ever move out of the city and have fewer exciting dining options nearby...but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, it's so much fun to experience different cuisines in various parts of the city.
Win's parents went to Germany this Spring and loved it. Given their enjoyable German travel experience, we thought they might enjoy a German restaurant. So we took them to the Chicago Brauhaus in Lincoln Square. The Brauhaus has been open for over 35 years and it definitely feels like an old neighborhood place. The servers are mostly older German women who are competent and friendly but no-nonsense. At night, a live band plays German music and guests are invited to dance on the little dance floor in front of the bandstand. They have a nice selection of beers served in large steins and we liked each one we tried. The food is very good and although it's not exactly as they had in Germany, according to my in-laws it's pleasantly close. Among the dishes sampled at our table were cabbage soup, chicken schnitzel, rindsroulade (beef rouladen rolled with mustard, bacon, onions and pickle), braised pork shank served with sauerkraut and dumplings, goulash, red cabbage and German potatoes.
As is typical with German food, these dishes were filling. We all enjoyed what we ordered and Lima even liked almost everything she sampled. Oddly enough, she was a big fan of the cabbage soup. She would have stolen the whole cup of cabbage soup right out from under her grandpa if we'd let her little toddler hands do it. The one food she didn't like was the red cabbage. She was excited to try it when I put some on a fork for her, but after about one second in her mouth, it reappeared and was promptly spit out into my hand. So thumbs down from Lima on the red cabbage, but her vote is counterbalanced by the two big thumbs up given to it by Lima's grandma and grandpa.
Fall and Winter seem like a perfect time to visit the Chicago Brauhaus. It's kind of dark and old fashioned feeling and the hearty food is perfect for the colder months. My in-laws loved their meal and we'd definitely go back again. Sorry I don't have any photos from the Brauhaus here; I didn't have my camera with me for that meal. You can get a sense for the look and feel of the place from their web site though.
Later in our weekend, we decided to hit Greektown for lunch. My in-laws like Greek food so we decided to pay a visit to Greek Islands (pictured above). We'd been to Greek Islands before and loved their delicious food, gregarious staff, free valet parking, and bright, sunny decor. This visit was no different. We loved their Greek salad generously dotted with feta cheese and Greek olives. Win and his parents all ordered different lamb dishes, prepared in a variety of ways. I ordered baby mediterranean octopus. It quickly became clear which three in this bunch were genetically linked and which crazy octopus eater married into the group.
Win and his family raved about the lamb. Tender and flavorful. I loved my octopus. It was served grilled with an olive oil and herb marinade. The herb and charcoal grill flavors popped without covering up the natural taste of the octopus. Unlike what you might expect, it wasn't too rubbery or chewy either. The photo above just shows a few little pieces from the octopus dish, not the whole entree, but it provides a glimpse into what it was like.
Due to the Lima Bean's impending need for a nap, we had to leave before indulging in dessert. We have had the pleasure of trying Greek Islands' desserts on a previous visit though and they were excellent.
My in-laws left today, hopefully having enjoyed their trip. Two things are certain: They left well-fed and happy to have seen their granddaughter (and son and daughter-in-law...but we're no dopes, we know Lima's the main attraction).